Demonstrations, petitions and threats of ‘bhora musango’ have engulfed Chirumanzu – Zivagwe Constituency after First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa allegedly imposed a candidate who came fourth in the just-ended Zanu PF primaries to take over the seat she left when she stepped down early this year.
Chirumanzu – Zibagwe is one of the most famous constituencies in the country after it changed hands between members of the First Family; President Mnangagwa and his wife Auxillia.
Angry demonstrators accused Mnangagwa of imposing Prosper Machando, her close ally as the candidate ahead of successful business Crispen Thomu who is said to have won the primaries with an overwhelming majority.
This came after the party declared Machando as the Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe candidate at a PCC meeting held at the Zanu PF Winery offices in Gweru on Saturday.
Party supporters said they knew it was Mnangagwa who imposed Machando because the two were close and Machando allegedly used the First Lady’s truck during his campaign for the primary.
Machando also opely bragged that he was the First Lady’s choice for party candidature, said the protesters.
The protesters likened Mnangagwa to disgraced former First Lady Grace Mugabe. Efforts to get a comment from the First Lady were fruitless.
The demonstrators vowed to derail Zanu PF victory in the constituency held by President Emmerson Mnangagwa from 2008 to 2014 and his wife from 2014 to 2018 when she stepped down after becoming First Lady. President Mnanngagwa handed over the constituency to his wife when he was appointed Vice President by former President Mugabe.
Party members including war veterans expressed fear that MDC T was going to win the seat after Zanu PF dumped Thomu, a very popular candidate.
Zanu PF Midlands provincial spokesperson Cornelius Mupereri confirmed the debacle and public anger but said the situation was caused by confusion in the voting process that initially saw Thomu being declared the winner. He said Thomu was declared winner before voting was done in three wards that are close to the City of Kwekwe.
Tremendous Musara who is Thomu’s chief elections officer said the elections went on well and Thomu was the winner according to the results posted at all polling stations. He said party members were shocked when Machando was declared the winner.
A petition written by war vets to Zanu PF headquarters in Harare also likened the First Lady’s behaviour in the matter as to that of Grace Mugabe. The petition alleged that Machando was a violent man, who owned nothing and did not deserve to become an MP in Chirumanzu – Zibagwe.
The petition also said that Machando who allegedly drives around the First Lady’s truck has been using the First Family’s name to intimidate party supporters including candidates who stood against him.
“I am filling complaints with the party and if the decision is not changed, I will decide later to stand as an independent candidate or focus on my business,” said Thomu.
A war veteran who spoke on condition of anonymity alleged that there has never been democracy in Chirumanzu since the arrival of President Mnangagwa after his defeat by the MDC T in Kwekwe urban. He said the constituency had never held primary elections since Mnangagwa became MP in 2008.
The meeting at the party’s Winery offices in Gweru had to be stopped for 30 minutes after hordes of party supporters became rowdy on the announcement of Machando as the party candidate for Chirumanzu. It took senior party officials July Moyo and Joram Gumbo to calm down the angry crowd.