Two factions of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party have clashed just outside Harare in a primary election to fill a parliamentary seat left vacant following the expulsion of war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa from the former liberation movement for allegedly undermining the authority of the president and first lady, Grace Mugabe.
The two factions, said to be led by Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa and Mrs. Mugabe, nominated different candidates for the Norton by-election set for next month.
Favorite candidates Bybit Tsomondo and Joyce Mukazhu believed to be in the Generation 40 faction allegedly led by Mrs. Mugabe lost to Ronald Tinashe Chindedza, a member of Lacoste group said to be led by Mnangagwa.
Chindedza polled 847 votes, Mukazhu got 617 and Tsomondo came third with 612. Other candidates that participated in the primary election include Mary Zvinavashe and Langton Mutendereki who got 328 and 146 respectively.
But it is the manner in which Chindedza won that angered other candidates who allege that presiding officer Shadreck Mashayamombe had a hand in Chindedza’s victory.
Chindedza’s victory at three polling stations - Bryn Farm, Mutubva and Janktown - are being questioned by all candidates.
Results at Bryn Farm triggered the protest by losing candidates as seven votes cast at the polling station were allegedly inflated to 247. Voting sheets browsed by Studio 7 also indicate that the 59 votes at Janktown were inflated to 189. Four votes at Mutubva were also allegedly inflated to 154 in favour of Chindedza.
Tsomondo, who lost to former Norton Member of Parliament, Christopher Mutsvangwa, in Zanu PF primaries in 2013 spoke through her election agent, Rexon Zuze.
Zuze said the election results were simple daylight robbery, adding that this is an indication that there is no democracy in the ruling party.
Losing candidate Mutendereki said those who allegedly rigged the Norton primary election in Mashonaland West province should be disqualified and dealt with according to the Zanu PF constitution.
Zuze said it is unfortunate for residents that independent candidate Temba Mliswa and Zanu PF winning candidate Chindedza do not hail from Norton.
Chindedza will battle it out with Mliswa in the by-election. Mnangagwa and Mrs. Mugabe are said to be habouring presidential ambitions though they have in the past dismissed such allegations as unfounded.
Most opposition parties are boycotting the by-election.