PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s backyard, the Midlands province, has been hard hit by fresh turmoil after losing three crucial seats in last week’s by-elections with rival factions blaming and threatening each other for contributing to the loss.
Zanu PF is deeply divided in the province, with the party failing to heal from the bloody and divisive provincial elections that saw Mnangagwa imposing his top ally, Larry Mavima, for the post of chairperson while firing State Security minister Owen “Mudha” Ncube who was accused of resorting to violence and alienating the party from voters.
But the Ncube camp, that is said to have assumed a passive approach during the by-election campaign while sulking, accuses Mavima of lacking the strategy to win Mbizo and Kwekwe Central constituencies.
Zanu PF also lost Mkoba constituency to CCC organising secretary Amos Chibaya.
Sources close to Ncube told The NewsHawks in separate interviews that the perennial campaigners for the party, particularly the violent Al-Shabaab youths linked to Ncube, took a back seat in the electoral process.
It also emerged that the imposition of John Mapurazi to represent Kwekwe Central largely contributed to the loss to CCC’s Judith Tobaiwa, with supporters linked to Energy Ncube and Kandros Mugabe vowing their candidates would have grabbed the seat given the groundwork they had done.
Ncube, nephew to former minister “Mudha” Ncube, and Mugabe were disqualified following a series of violent clashes ahead of the party primary elections.
“The supporters of the two candidates were not happy with the disqualification of their preferred candidates after so much work and most of them took a back seat in the campaign process,” an insider said.
Vongai Mupereri represented the party in the race for the Mbizo seat, with party insiders saying he was imposed ahead of favourite Moses Murada and this contributed to Bhora Musango.
“People within the party structures were not happy with the candidature of Mupereri and Mapurazi. In Mbizo, people wanted Murada but the leadership instead imposed Mupereri,” the source said.
“In Kwekwe Central, the party would have fared better if they had allowed Mugabe or Ncube to stand. They had done their groundwork and all was set.
“Mapurazi is very unpopular and it was going to be a miracle if he were to win,” a Zanu PF insider said.
“Things are not well, people are not happy. There are people who think they know everything and have a strategy to win lying to Number 1 (Mnangagwa) of their potential. We ended up watching them do the things and we knew it would end in defeat,” a senior Zanu PF official told The NewsHawks this week.
“We were not united on the ground. People who were running the campaign did not have a strategy, they do not have people skills and we ended up on the losing side.”
Zanu PF relied on mobilising youths around mining claims and the strategy, sources said, was working well and, had Ncube or Mugabe been allowed to stand, given their support base, one of them could have won.
“Remember Mugabe and Ncube’s strategy, a populist approach and mass mobilisation, was the same strategy that saw (the late former Kwekwe Central MP Masango) Matambanadzo winning. Matambanadzo was Zanu PF and later joined National Patriotic Front (NPF) but continued to win. We needed that,” the insider said.
However, a rival camp blamed the violence unleashed by Zanu PF’s Al-Shabaab thugs for alienating the party with supporters.
The terror group is known for terrorising people in and around Kwekwe and said to be linked to Ncube, better known as Mudha in Zanu PF circles.
Ncube was fired from his powerful government post after he led a violent campaign for the post of provincial chairperson against Mnangagwa’s advice.
At least 16 Zanu PF youths were last month arrested at Jessie Gardens, a lodge owned by Ncube, and charged with the murder of CCC activist Mboneni Ncube at a rally addressed by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in Mbizo.
His death came hardly a day after Vic-President Constantino Chiwenga threatened during a campaign rally in Mbizo that the opposition CCC would be crushed like lice.
“People in Kwekwe are fed up with the violent conduct of the Zanu PF militia, they need a new kind of politics which is what the new administration is for. We have a lot of work to do to convince the electorate of the new kind of politics divorced from use of force. Clearly, the bad image cost us dearly,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
“For a long time people in Kwekwe and Mbizo have been subjected to violence from Zanu PF. As long as President Mnangagwa is not reigning in his supporters and allowing vigilantism, terrorism and violence to continue, Zanu PF will never win in Kwekwe. People in Kwekwe will continually reject the governing party.”
Tobaiwa said she was also a victim of Zanu PF violence but soldiered on.
“My campaign car was defaced, my poll agents have been victimised and have violence meted on them. I would, however, want to thank my supporters for coming out in large numbers and vote for us despite the challenges,” she said.
Tobaiwa became the first female candidate to win a parliamentary seat in Kwekwe since Independence and has promised to push for the equitable distribution of mining resources.
Chikwinya, who retained his Mbizo seat, said: “This win is a tribute to Mboneni. We dedicate this win to him. He did not die in vain and we are going to continue with the values and ideals that he died for.
“We are going back to Parliament to reclaim our parliamentary space and giving alternative policies to government. We understand that government is in the hands of Zanu PF. we have Zanu PF and Zanu PF in Parliament, there is no Zanu PF and other opposition in Parliament. Zanu PF captured Mwonzora.
“Through our re-election under CCC, people are voting back their voices. Those of us who are going back to Parliament, we are going to dominate Parliament, with respect to providing alternative policies to government as a precursor to the 2023 general election,” he said.
Zanu PF Midlands provincial chairperson Mavima was not answering calls to his mobile phone this week but was recently quoted during a campaign rally warning members against protest votes.
“We will expel you from the party if we find out that you are going to vote for an opposition candidate. Hatidi bhora musango. Ukaita bhora musango tokudzinga (we do not want protest votes, if you do that we will fire you),” he said.