PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa last week dispatched his politburo and central committee members to Kwekwe to hear first-hand reasons why the party lost the crucial Kwekwe Central and Mbizo parliamentary seats to the Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) in the 26 March by elections, as he seeks a viable strategy to win the seats in 2023.
Mnangagwa is unhappy with the loss in his own backyard and where he also addressed thousands of party supporters at Mbizo Stadium ahead of the crucial by-elections his party went on to lose.
The Zanu PF leader views the Midlands province as his stronghold. He is not taking the loss lightly, as he sees it as a slap in the face.
Mnangagwa also views the loss as problematic, as it leaves him with no power base, hence the push to figure out what could have transpired and work to address the shortcomings ahead of the party’s elective congress set for December and ultimately the 2023 general election if he succeeds in his bid to represent the ruling party.
Mnangagwa was memorably beaten to the Kwekwe parliamentary seat by Blessing Chebundo then of MDC in 2000 and 2005, prompting him to abandon the constituency. Since the by-election defeat, Zanu PF members have been blaming each other on factional grounds.
Multiple sources in the Midlands confirmed that politburo member Tsitsi Muzenda took the time to listen to Zanu PF supporters, who were open with her on what was destroying the party in the province.
Sources said Muzenda, daughter of the late former vice-president Simon Muzenda, was accompanied by Wellington Magura, a central committee member in the Midlands province. One of the reasons that Muzenda was told contributed to the loss, according to a central committee member in the province who attended the meeting, was the imposition of candidates.
The party official said disqualified candidates were angered by the imposition.
“She was told that the biggest problem in the two constituencies was imposition of candidates. Supporters of Kandros Mugabe and Energy Ncube felt their respective candidates should not have been disqualified and Zanu PF would have won had either one of them stood,” the senior party official said.
The official said supporters of Mugabe and Ncube could have deliberately stayed away from voting in protest after Mnangagwa ordered the two to step aside and pave way for John Mapurazi, who garnered 2 883 votes against the CCC’s Judith Tobaiwa who had 6 639 votes.
In Mbizo, the CCC’s Settlement Chikwinya garnered 7 146 while Vongaishe Mupereri had 3 232 votes.
“Mapurazi was decampaigned and that is why you saw that a Zanu PF councillor won where an aspiring MP lost. That was clearly bhora musango,” a party insider said. Zanu PF also lost in Mkoba constituency in Gweru, but said it remains determined to win big in the province long considered as Mnangagwa’s stronghold.
The NewsHawks last week reported that Zanu PF is deeply divided in the Midlands province amid accusations and counter accusations over how the party lost in the district.
Fissures are likely to worsen ahead of preparations for the 2023 elections with the party failing to heal from the divisive provincial elections that saw Mnangagwa imposing Larry Mavima for the post of chairperson. In the process, Mnangagwa fired State Security minister Owen Ncube from his powerful cabinet post after he reportedly defied his boss by insisting on standing and allegedly engaging in violent conduct.
The Ncube camp is said to have adopted a passive posture ahead of by-elections in protest while accusing those now in leadership of lacking strategy to win Mbizo and Kwekwe Central constituencies.
“In Kwekwe Central, the party would have fared better if they had allowed Mugabe or Ncube to stand. They had done their groundwork and all was set,” Zanu PF officials said.
“Mapurazi is very unpopular and it was going to be a miracle if he was to win. Things are not well, people are not happy. There are people who think they know everything and have a strategy to win lying to number one (Mnangagwa) of their potential. We ended up watching them do the things and we knew it would end in defeat,” a senior Zanu PF official told The NewsHawks this week.
“We were not united on the ground. People who were running the campaign did not have a strategy, they do not have people skills and we ended up on the losing side.”
Zanu PF relied on mobilising youths around mining claims and the strategy, sources said, was working well and, had Ncube or Mugabe been allowed to stand, given their support base, one of them could have won.
A rival group, however, blamed violence under Zanu PF’s militant Al-Shabaab thugs for alienating the party from communities.
The violent group is known for terrorising people in and around Kwekwe and said to be linked to Ncube, who is nicknamed “Mudha” in Zanu PF circles.