ZANU PF primary elections ended farcically yesterday amid reports of massive vote-rigging, bloody clashes and the defeat of party bigwigs, while some losing candidates seized and burnt the ballot papers, as they threatened to rally their supporters to back opposition party candidates in protest over the way the internal polls were held.
In Centenary, Mashonaland Central, the process was aborted midway after disgruntled candidates and their supporters stormed the polling station at Mukwengure Primary School, citing various irregularities, among them stuffing of ballot boxes and being blocked from voting.
In Gutu North, two Zanu PF bigwigs Amon Murwira (Higher Education minister) and legislator Tichafa Madondo were pummelled by a political lightweight, Yeukai Simbanegavi, in an election marred by allegations of stuffing of ballot boxes.
Murwira and Madondo rejected the election results and immediately drove to Masvingo to seek nullification of the election process.
Chaotic scenes were also reported in Sanyati constituency, Mashonaland West province, where one of the parliamentary candidates, Lovemore Chimombe and his supporters, had to be dragged out of the polling station by police officers, as they protested alleged manipulation of the voting process.
Results in other parts of the province such as Chinhoyi, Zvimba North and Makonde constituencies were nullified due to alleged irregularities.
Provincial elections officer, Sydney Nyanungo said they would soon order a re-run following a stalemate.
“I don’t want to call it a re-run, but there is a stalemate because of the method that was used to distribute the ballot papers … the ballot papers were exposed, which means somebody could have duplicated (sic) because they ended up with excess ballot papers and that is the problem we are rectifying.”
Members allege that some candidates bussed people from other areas, some used their own voters’ roll and other candidates’ names were not on the ballot papers.
Nyanungo said dates of the re-run will be announced this week.
In Murewa South, voters reportedly forced the primary election to be suspended demanding that former Provincial Affairs minister Biggie Matiza’s adversaries appear on the ballot first.
Violent skirmishes were also reported at Craiglea Primary School in Zawe District, Murewa South, where riot police had to intervene after party members allegedly seized ballot papers and burnt them at the school’s football pitch. Some of the ballot papers were torn and strewn all over the school yard.
In Jekwa ward 17, Macheke, ballot papers were also reportedly burnt as party members protested against alleged irregularities.
In Seke constituency, where Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s mother-in-law, Helga Mubaiwa was contesting against businessman Munyaradzi Kashambe, voting was also marred by protests over missing names on the voters’ register.
In Manicaland, Zanu PF chairperson, Oppah Muchinguri and elections directorate commissioner, Zenzo Nsimbi had a torrid time trying to pacify angry candidates, who besieged the party’s provincial headquarters in Mutare protesting against voting irregularities.
“I can admit the verification exercise was not done correctly,” Nsimbi said. “I am here as a commissioner to find out what is happening in these elections and we are going to write a report. We addressed all the anomalies, please go to your wards and vote.”
Aspiring council candidate, Clever Muparutsa claimed they had received ballots meant for Gokwe while Mutasa South MP, Irene Zindi alleged vote-rigging in her constituency.
“These primary elections are full of chaos, people here started to vote around 6pm and the voting ended around 1am.
“They could have waited to vote so that all issues were addressed, some people were not on the voters’ roll and this can be vote rigging at play, we need to elect the best candidate,” she said.
In Mutare North, members refused to vote after some ballot papers went missing. The constituency’s legislator, Batsirai Pemhenayi claimed that they left 21 000 ballot papers the previous day at Odzi Police Station and only found 11 000 when they returned yesterday.
Pemhenayi said he suspected vote-rigging.
In Mutasa North, war veterans’ secretary for education, Wilbert Sadomba left the constituency in a huff, but claimed he was still in the running.
“Voting started this morning, but I have already left.
“I know there are powers who would not want me to contest let alone win because they are angry at the stance I took regarding the (former First Lady) Grace Mugabe’s doctorate,” Sadomba, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said.
“I also fear I could lose my job.”
In Kwekwe Central constituency, John Mapurazi officially wrote to the party announcing he was pulling out of the race.
“My car and gate were destroyed, my agent was beaten up at BD Muonde polling station [and] a polling station was put at a candidate’s premise. So I am afraid for my security,” the letter read.
However, in other parts of the country, particularly Harare and Chitungwiza, the process was relatively smooth with Chitungwiza Hospital chief executive officer, Obadiah Moyo triumphing in Zengeza West constituency.
Highly-placed sources claimed in Highfield East Mike Mashonganyika won the right to represent Zanu PF in the opposition bastion, while Finance deputy minister Terence Mukupe reportedly took Harare East amid reports of violent clashes as well as kidnapping.
In Budiriro constituency, provincial youth league leader, Godfrey Gomwe will stand for Zanu PF, while Zimbabwe Tourism Authority boss, Karikoga Kaseke’s, wife Betty Nhambu-Kaseke won the Kuwadzana slot.
Zanu PF will field Philip Guyo in St Mary’s, Enerst Chagadama in Kuwadzana East, former ENG Capital boss, Gilbert Muponda in Warren Park, Tendai Chikasha in Chitungwiza North, Dunny Derera in Mufakose, George Chimhini in Dzivarasekwa, provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa in Mabvuku-Tafara and George Mashavave in Harare West according to provisional results obtained unofficially by NewsDay.
Gomwe confirmed he was Zanu PF’s candidate for the general election set for later this year.
“It’s true I won. We finished last night (Sunday night) around 11pm. I got 893 votes, Chiweshe 364 and the other two are around 100 or below,” he said.
Nhambu-Kaseke also confirmed she had been elected as Zanu PF candidate for Kuwadzana constituency.
“There was a typing error and I was listed as a candidate for Kumbuzuma. I am standing in my current constituency and won resoundingly,” she said, without providing figures.
“However, there were no ballots for the women’s senatorial seat. Our results were announced last night.”
Masimirembwa confirmed counting in Harare was complete, but said the results would be announced by the commissariat.
“We [have] finished counting in most parts of Harare. It’s not my position to give the results, but the commissariat will make the necessary announcement,” he said.
In Bulawayo, Peter Baka Nyoni, the husband of Women’s Affairs minister Sithembiso Nyoni was chased out of the party’s Daves Hall provincial headquarters, his crime being that he dared contest against former War Veterans’ minister Tshinga Dube.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s adviser, Christopher Mutsvangwa rubbished social media speculation he had lost the primary election in Norton.
“How does one lose before people even vote? It’s not possible, our supporters are going to vote today (yesterday), there is a narrative being pushed against me by certain people, but the national commissariat is aware and dealing with the situation.
“Our national commissar Engelbert Rugeje is on top of the situation.”
Results from Norton were not available at the time of going to print.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda said voting only started early yesterday in Gokwe Central, as the party had not distributed voting material in time.
“We started this morning (yesterday) and all is going on well. We expect provisional results later today (yesterday) or the final results tomorrow (today),” he said.
Voting went on smoothly in Mashonaland East.
Our correspondent, Jairos Saunyama reports that in most constituencies around Goromonzi and Murewa there were long queues that snaked around voting centres.
In Victoria Falls in Chinotimba’s wards 7 and 8, violence broke out after names of two candidates were inexplicably missing from ballot papers, prompting some party members to say they will throw in their lot behind opposition parties in the upcoming general elections.
Our correspondent in Matabeleland South reports that Albert Ngulube, who served as head of security under former President Robert Mugabe and was bashed by the military during the coup last November, is the top contender in Beitbridge East constituency along with businessman Steven Stubbs.