VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga yesterday rallied warring Zanu PF camps to bury their differences, stemming from the just-ended divisive party primary elections, to avoid a repeat of bhora musango protest votes in the upcoming general elections.
In his address at the official opening of the two-day Zanu PF reconciliation and healing workshop for the party’s winning and losing candidates in Harare, Chiwenga admitted the chaos that marred the party’s primaries, but cautioned against protest votes.
“On the purpose of this particular workshop, I want to emphasise that it is aimed at uniting our party in preparation for the forthcoming harmonised elections,” he said.
“Accordingly, I call upon all of you to put your differences aside as dedicated party cadres and focus on campaigning rigorously to ensure that we win the harmonised elections resoundingly.
“Following the last leg of re-runs, the commissariat department proposed a deliberate programme to ensure that the party emerged stronger and united ahead of the harmonised elections.
“The programme, whose thrust is to preach the gospel of unity and reconciliation to the winning and losing candidates, was spearheaded against the backdrop of the need to tackle the bhora musango mantra particularly from the losing candidates.”
The workshop was organised after several aggrieved aspiring party candidates and their supporters stormed the Zanu PF headquarters to protest against alleged rigging, imposition of candidates and the general chaos that characterised the primary elections held last month.
The angry party members were baying for Zanu PF political commissar, Engelbert Rugeje’s head, claiming he engineered the chaos in order to rig the polls in favour of his preferred candidates.
In some constituencies, the party had to organise re-runs, as members threatened to rally behind opposition candidates, including dumping Zanu PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Last week, police had to use force to quell a demonstration at the party headquarters in Harare where hundreds of supporters threatened to dump imposed candidates and vote for either the opposition or independent candidates.
Chiwenga yesterday conceded that there were problems with the manner in which primaries were held, but described these as a learning curve.
“To be honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that the entire process was a learning curve, hence, challenges were encountered in both the cell verification and the primary elections,” he said.
Delegates reiterated the need to avoid bhora musango campaign and save the party from an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the opposition, although many reiterated their displeasure at the party’s candidates.
Bhora musango rocked Zanu PF in the 2008 elections when party members dumped their presidential candidate, Robert Mugabe and voted for the opposition, resulting in an embarrassing loss for the ruling party.
However, the results of the elections were withheld for six long weeks by the stunned Zanu PF regime, amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud.
In the ensuing 2008 presidential run-off, Zanu PF militia went on an orgy of violence in which hundreds of MDC supporters were killed, forcing the late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from the race and Mugabe declared himself winner after a widely-condemned one-man race.
Mnangagwa will address the workshop today.