Hundreds of supporters of Zimbabwe’s two largest parties – Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday besieged their respective party headquarters complaining that their leadership is imposing candidates on party followers ahead of this year’s general elections.
Close to 400 placard-carrying Zanu-PF supporters from various constituencies countrywide stormed their party headquarters protesting against the imposition of candidates and the alleged recycling of the party’s old guard ahead of this year’s elections.
One of the placards read, “No to imposition of tired horses”.
The tense atmosphere at the Zanu-PF headquarters resulted in five journalists, including two from the state-controlled Herald newspaper, being detained by the party’s security details for more than an hour, only for the scribes to be rescued by Zanu-PF political commissar and Media and Information Minster Webster Shamu.
Zanu-PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo on Thursday released a full list of his party candidates that will face primaries and those who were unopposed to represent the former liberation party in parliamentary elections.
Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Didymas Mutasa, professed ignorance over Friday’s developments at his party’s headquarters.
“Who had you discussed that with? Why are you following it up this issue with me? You have never discussed it with me. The fact that you saw it does not mean that I also saw it. I was not there. So, please don’t follow it up with me. How can I confirm something that I don’t know? I am in Rusape right now and you want me to confirm something that has happened in Harare. What’s wrong with you,” said Mr. Mutasa.
Across town, about 100 MDC-T Epworth activists also stormed their party’s Harvest House headquarters demanding fresh primary elections in their constituency.
Rudha Phiri, the MDC-T’s chairperson of the Epworth district Women’s Assembly in Ward 1 told VOA that last week’s primary elections were not conclusive. Phiri said ballot papers were confiscated by unnamed activists before the counting of votes started.
She said fresh elections should be held as there was no outright winner.
MDC-T national organizing secretary, Nelson Chamisa, refused to speak to VOA upon exiting the party’s offices as the protesters were waiting for him at the entrance. Mr. Chamisa was whisked away into his vehicle by security details that blocked VOA from talking to any officials.
However, MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said a leadership meeting was held Thursday where Epworth sitting legislator Elias Jembere, who was being challenged by seven other party activists, was confirmed as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
Mr. Mwonzora accused those who lost in primaries of busing people to lodge unnecessary complaints at the MDC-T headquarters.
The MDC-T is expected to wrap up its parliamentary primary elections in some remaining constituencies this weekend. At the same, it will start conducting primary polls for local government seats.
We also reached Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, who said the party is not imposing any candidates on supporters. His party has since shifted its primary elections from Monday to Wednesday.
In Bulawayo, the MDC-T’s provincial organizing secretary, Albert Mhlanga, said if one of the losing candidates, Felix Magalela Mafa Sibanda, claims that he will contest the poll as an independent candidate, he has automatically expelled himself from the party.