Anti-riot police kept close watch Tuesday at Davies Hall, the Zanu PF provincial headquarters in Bulawayo, to curtail violence as tensions between members of rival factions within the party simmered ahead of a party primary election for the Nkulumane constituency set to be held Wednesday.
This follows President Robert Mugabe’s proclamation of Saturday December 19 as the date for the constituency by-election after the death of MDC-T’s Thamsanqa Mahlangu last month.
Killion Sibanda, who is said to be aligned to the Generation 40 or G40 group of the party’s Young Turks is pushing to represent Zanu PF ahead of former mayor David Ndlovu, who was the Zanu PF candidate in the 2013 elections and is linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction.
When Studio 7 arrived at the party offices Tuesday afternoon, over a dozen anti-riot police officers were watching proceedings at the party offices closely while standing a few metres from the entrance of the party offices.
Some police in plainclothes also helped calm the situation and convinced some party members who were wielding placards not to take their protest outside the party premises.
The placards were denouncing Sibanda and Provincial Affairs Minister Eunice Sandi Moyo.
Some of the posters read: “Killion must go, we don’t need him,” “No primary elections tomorrow please,” “Phansi ngo Killian (Down with Killian)” “Sandi trouble causer,” “Sandi go to rest,” and “Sandi must go.”
Moyo is accused of using her office to coordinate G40 activities in Matabeleland region thereby fomenting chaos in the region and is also said to be backing Sibanda.
Studio 7 was not able to reach Moyo for comment.
Some party members who refused to speak on tape for fear of victimization accused the G40 of using money to buy votes.
But members from the opposing camp dismissed the allegations as baseless, charging that they were being made by people who have been outwitted in campaigning.
Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairperson, Dennis Ndlovu, confirmed that Sibanda and Ndlovu will contest the party’s primary elections but refused to give further details.
SIbanda told VOA Studio 7 that Ndlovu and his group were to blame for the 'disturbances'.