UGLY scenes were the order of the day at Zanu PF’s headquarters in Harare yesterday, as riot police officers crushed demonstrations by hordes of ruling party supporters, over the alleged imposition of candidates in various constituencies across the country.
First to arrive at the party headquarters were placard-waving Goromonzi South Zanu PF members, demonstrating against the alleged imposition of Labour minister Petronella Kagonye, as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
All hell broke loose after baton-wielding police officers swiftly moved in and indiscriminately bashed them, forcing the demonstrators to scatter in different directions.
Soon after dispersing the first group, two more teams of disgruntled Zanu PF activists from Hurungwe East and Mazowe West constituencies stormed the party offices, giving police a torrid time, as they battled to drive out the protestors.
As tempers flared, with the activists turning violent, top party officials then intervened and allowed them to air out their grievances.
Zanu PF national political commissar, Engelbert Rugeje said he was out of office, while the party spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo said he was unaware of the demonstrations.
In separate interviews, the angry protesters vowed to continue piling pressure until their grievances are addressed.
The protesters threatened to ditch the party’s presidential candidate, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and vote for opposition candidates if the alleged imposed Zanu PF candidates were allowed to stand in this year’s general elections.
“I came from Goromonzi South and in as far as I am concerned I don’t have an MP,” one supporter, Shepherd Mangeiwaya, said.
“Zimbabwe is a free country and Zanu PF is a democratic party that will allow the will
of the people to prevail.
“What happened in the primaries is short of what we expected and we took several steps to have the matter addressed, but nothing happened.
“This is why we are here. No form of violence will silence us.
“The only way forward is to call for a rerun, which will be conducted in a free and fair way, otherwise its game on.”
Others deplored the use of violence to disperse them, claiming a similar tact was used on war veterans, but the actions later came back to haunt those who had instructed the move.
In 2016, a group of disgruntled war veterans were teargassed after they attempted to gather close to the party headquarters to have their grievances addressed.
“What we are seeing here is that our grievances are not being taken seriously.
“Most of the people that you see here are poor ordinary party members, who just want things to be done right.
“The majority have sold chickens and goats back home to come and voice their concerns,” Tarisai Mujaka, from Hurungwe East, said.
“If they don’t take our concerns seriously, there is a way to punish them. We will go to NPF (National Patriotic Front) or vote (MDC-T leader, Nelson) Chamisa. We will go and mobilise other people not to vote for those imposed people.
“Zanu PF is better than this and we are giving our leaders a chance to correct things.”
A group from Mazowe West, that gathered a distance away from the Zanu PF headquarters, told NewsDay that the “imposed” candidate is not the people’s favourite.
In Mazowe West, sitting MP and provincial chairman, Kazembe Kazembe was declared the winner, yet in the same voting process, the party ordered a rerun for the women’s quota slot.
Kazembe was challenged by several candidates, including Tafadzwa Musarara.
“It’s clear that if the matter is not solved, we will not vote for the particular MP, never, that is not going to happen.
“The leadership acknowledged that there were some problems, but ignored where it is most important.
“No one is going to vote for imposition.
“We want a rerun and we must be allowed to vote.
“Elections were rigged and we are not happy,” Jairos Simbi lamented.
Others said they did not fear the police’s heavy-handedness.
In 2008, Zanu PF suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of MDC-T in the first round of voting after angry party supporters embarked on what is known as bhora musango, where the ruling party’s supporters voted for the opposition.