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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Riven By Divisions, Distrust With Elections Looming

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party is experiencing serious internal divisions on its way to national elections at the end of March, obliging it to among other things to consider extending the period for primary elections to select its parliamentary candidates.

This week's announcement by former finance minister Simba Makoni that he will run for president against incumbent Robert Mugabe has exacerbated the turmoil.

ZANU-PF Political Commissar Elliot Manyika said the party is going to have to repeat primaries in some constituencies. Sources say that the party’s elections directorate has been inundated with complaints alleging irregularities, including announcements saying candidates were unopposed though primaries were still being organized.

A number of ZANU-PF ministers have lost in primaries to relative lightweights.

ZANU-PF supporters gathered at the party's headquarters in Harare and in Bindura, Mashonaland Central, Thursday to denounce the alleged imposition of candidates.

Party sources said tensions have been heightened by internal party efforts to isolate those suspected of supporting Makoni, who has been expelled from ZANU-PF.

Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a program manager for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the divisions in ZANU-PF show that President Mugabe's grip on power is weakening.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...