PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special adviser and Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa’s opponent in Zanu PF Norton primary elections Langton Mutendereki has dug in his heels promising a bloody nose for the former Cabinet minister.
Mutendereki won the first round in the contentious Zanu PF internal selection process for the right to represent the ruling party in the general elections expected later this year, but the result was nullified after Mutsvangwa loudly protested claiming “rigging”.
While sources close to Mutsvangwa claimed there were “negotiations” for Mutendereki to “step aside” the little-known politician poured cold water on the suggestions.
“There are moves to try and persuade Mutendereki to step aside. Talks are in progress,” said a source close to the issue, adding this might allow Mutsvangwa a free passage to stand as a Zanu PF candidate.
But Mutendereki yesterday said he would not be distracted by “heresay”.
“There is nothing like that. I am preparing for the primary election re-run and ready for it. It is not correct. In fact, nobody has approached me either cordially or in a threatening fashion. I am still very much in the race,” he said.
Mutendereki said he was more emboldened and convinced than ever now that he will be Zanu PF candidate come the general election.
“It’s not true that I’m being threatened to quit the rerun. Those are lies, in fact, I’m raring to go and will win this time with a wider margin . . . my friend even if the elections are held 100 times I will still beat Mutsvangwa,” Mutendereki said.
“During the first round, I was 75% sure that I would win, but now I am 100% certain. I won without anyone’s help and ready for it,” he said.
Mutsvangwa refused to comment on the issue or his chances in the re-run.
“No comment,” came the curt response. The war veterans’ leader claimed Mutendereki had received help from Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Webster Shamu and his wife Constance during the primary election.
Mutsvangwa also lashed out at Zanu PF political commissar Engelbert Rugeje, whom he accused of conspiring to remove his name from the ballot paper. The former Cabinet minister also raised the red flag on Rugeje’s “abuse” of police as returning officers during the snap internal poll.
Norton is one of the eight constituencies in Mashonaland West ordered to conduct fresh elections after the initial phase was marred by irregularities.
Mutsvangwa became unpopular in Norton after stopping projects he had started after he was expelled from Zanu PF.
He was said to have removed a borehole he had installed and televisions in public places.
Independent Norton MP Temba Mliswa said Mutsvangwa was a “cry baby” and was likely to get another drubbing because he is being imposed.
Mliswa said if Mutsvangwa did the unthinkable by pulling a surprise win that will be the end of Zanu PF in trying to wrest the seat from him, saying Mutsvangwa was unpopular among Zanu PF supporters because of what he did after his expulsion.
“Mutsvangwa is a cry baby he is not man enough to accept defeat and he is likely to get another hiding because he is very unpopular with the people of Norton . . . if he happens to win in the second round my passage back to Parliament will be a stroll in the park. Zanu PF never learns they did it in the by-election and now they want to repeat the same mistake of imposing candidates,”he said.
In Chegutu West, the winner of the first round MP Dexter Nduna, who was facing disqualification has been thrown back into the ring.
The politburo stated that all people facing criminal charges in courts will not be allowed to represent Zanu PF in any election.
Nduna is facing two counts of discharging a firearm in a public place and public violence.
Contacted for comment on the issue Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said he was in a meeting, but Nduna confirmed his participation.
“I have been allowed to participate in the rerun after it was seen that there are some people who didn’t want me to participate,” Nduna said.