Crucial elections in seven Zanu PF provinces held this weekend saw a number of former party chairmen retaining their positions with youthful Themba Mliswa winning the hotly-contested Mashonaland West polls beating, among others flamboyant businessman Phillip Chiyangwa.
Mliswa garnered over 19,000 votes in elections analysts say seem to have given deputy President Joice Mujuru a leg up in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe as most of her loyalists recorded wins in the majority of the country's 10 provinces.
The election results are crucial for next year's elective congress that may see power shifting from President Mugabe to his possible successor.
The Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo announced at the party’s headquarters maintaining all went well in the elections though some contestants complained the voters’ rolls used in the elections were in a shambolic state.
Shortages of voting materials were reported in a number of areas though officials put a brave face on the irregularities that mirrored the June 31 national elections.
“These are problems that can be faced by any party. We have done well as a party testing out a new system that worked us so well so we are happy. The irregularities were here and there but in a small measure and we were able to deal with those issues as a revolutionary party that we are,’ said Zanu PF parliamentary chief whip Joram Gumbo.
In Bulawayo Dr. Callistus Ndlovu retained the provincial chairmanship after beating Douglas Ndlovu, in Matebeleland South Sports Minister Andrew Langa also retained his position. In Mashonaland East Ray Kaukonde retained his post of chairmanship, in Harare Amos Midzi also retained his top post, in Matabeleland North Richard Moyo is the new chairman and in Masvingo the new provincial chairman is Callisto Gwanetsa.
Rival factions led by party deputy president Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa have been fighting for control of the party for years. The two leaders however deny any leadership ambitions.
The two, however, maintain that they do not lead any factions in the party, which has another third one supporting President Robert Mugabe to serve his full five year-term.
Many in the party were expecting Mr. Mugabe not to serve his full term, triggering the widening of divisions in the party as factions seek to position themselves ahead of Mugabe’s departure.