PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday threatened unspecified action against Zanu PF rebels who defied the party and will stand as independent candidates in next month’s polls in protest at the manner they were elbowed out in party primary elections.
Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters at a rally at Mucheke Stadium, Masvingo, Mnangagwa admitted rampant rigging in the Zanu PF primaries, but warned the rebels that they had gone too far.
“I hear there are two or so party members [in Masvingo] who stood as independents. I do not like those people,” he said.
“We had primaries where others won and lost, others rigged and others were rigged. Some won by rigging, some lost even after rigging, but I say down with rigging, leadership should come from the people, no imposition of candidates,” Mnangagwa said.
“But when we reach this stage, whether you won or lost, the party is the one which won. If you are a real Zanu PF member, you support the winner and try your luck next time after five years and you realise your mistakes so that next time you win.”
He criticised Zanu PF members who leave the party or stand as independents after losing primary elections.
“We are no longer friends; we do not want that spirit of legion. If you are defeated, the party is bigger than individuals, no one has a pocket that fits Zanu PF, but we all fit in Zanu PF. Zanu PF is a mass party with everyone,” Mnangagwa said amid cheers from the capacity crowd bussed from all corners of the province.
Several disgruntled Zanu PF members successfully filed their nomination papers as independent candidates on Thursday, while others switched to National Patriotic Front (NPF).
These include Darlington Chiwa, who will battle it out with the party’s official candidate for Chiredzi West constituency, Farai Musikavanhu.
Chiwa and Francis Moyo withdrew from the chaotic Zanu PF primaries alleging rigging after their names were erased from the party’s voters’ roll.
Pascal Mudzikisi, who was blocked in Masvingo North also filed to stand against Agriculture deputy minister Davis Marapira.
In Murewa East, former central committee member Noah Mangondo will contest against Mashonaland East provincial chairperson, Joel Biggie Matiza who won party primary elections under controversial circumstances.
In Masvingo Urban, little-known party member, Michael Taderera, who was banned from contesting, filed his nomination papers under NPF to stand against Bernard Mazarire.
It is understood that Chiwa was a favourite in Chiredzi West and may upset the Zanu PF candidate Musikavanhu.
Mudzikisi, the party fears, will also divide the votes for Zanu PF and the opposition may claim the seat.
Mnangagwa, who was caught in an elections gaffe after he had a slip of the tongue and twice stated the wrong election date before being corrected by party officials who realised his mistake, also directed sugar producer Tongaat Hulletts to surrender more plots to indigenous farmers.
Mnangagwa also promised to revive the defunct Masvingo Cold Storage Company branch on July 31, and said the government had also poured in $20 million out of the required $35 million towards the revival of the closed asbestos mine, Shabanie Mashaba Mines.
He also said the country will have a new government policy by August. Mnangagwa said the government had identified new investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, who will start mining lithium in partnership with the State.