Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
ZANU-PF provincial leaders have been urged to respect and co-operate with election observers in the country and continue preaching the gospel of violence-free, fair and credible elections.
Addressing a commissariat workshop for the party’s Matabeleland regional leadership in Bulawayo yesterday, the Zanu-PF national political commissar, Lieutenant General Engelbert Rugeje (Retired), said it was important for them to show the world the meaning of the new dispensation.
Lt Gen Rugeje said observers from Sadc and the United Nations were in the country for pre-election assessments and would visit provinces.
“For those who have been following the media, observers are in the country. It’s mandatory and President Mnangagwa invited them. When he went to Davos, he advised that observers were welcome in the country.
“A Sadc team is in the country and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has also sent its observers. I’m actually rushing back to Harare to meet the UNDP representatives to discuss the country’s political environment,” said Lt Gen Rugeje.
He implored chairpersons and representatives of all provinces to co-operate with the observers and preach the gospel of free, fair, transparent and credible elections.
“This is a must. We’re in a new dispensation and let’s prove to the world that the situation has changed. If we want to develop as a country and bring development, everything hinges on conducting free and fair elections and that credibility can only be assured when we all refrain from violence against ourselves and other political parties.
“I want to categorically state that those who were fired from the party lost their positions through the resolutions made at our ordinary Central Committee meeting held on the 19th (of November 2017) and subsequently endorsed by Congress. Anybody else outside that can’t be expelled,” said Lt Gen Rugeje.
He expressed disappointment that some provinces were firing party members because they were aligned to the G40 cabal, adding that it’s only Congress that has the mandate to expel a party member.
“This must stop. The President emphasised that we should let bygones be bygones. We can’t go into an election when we’re fighting because we’ll scare off potential voters. We don’t want to be compared with the MDC.
“Let’s demonstrate maturity. Zanu-PF has been around since 1980. We’re a mature party and let’s demonstrate that maturity. I expect improvement from every province on the aspect of retribution on acts of firing party members. Let’s be one family,” said Lt Gen Rugeje.
The political commissar said dates for primary elections would be announced soon with every party member expected to participate.
“Party primaries are inevitable and we want to exercise internal democracy. Those who aspire to be Members of Parliament and Senators and those who aspire to be councillors should start gearing for the event.
“It’s an aspect we’re going to table for discussion in the Politburo on Wednesday. We have since deliberated on that and will soon make announcements. I want to emphasise that every member of the party is going to vote in the primary elections,” said Lt Gen Rugeje.
He added that there were some party members who had suggested that voting be confined to district structures.
“We want to exercise full democracy so every party member must participate. Besides satisfying the tenets of democracy it will also give us an opportunity to prepare for the elections because the process will be similar to the way the general elections will be conducted.
“During campaigns for the primary elections, aspiring candidates will move together and campaign together. We’ll not allow denigration of other candidates. Each candidate will present their projects and programmes for the constituency,” said Lt Gen Rugeje.
He said after the primaries, the winning candidates will receive financial support and resources from the commissariat to campaign for the general elections.
“Dates will be announced on time so that losing candidates have time to heal and support the winning candidates for the benefit of the party,” said Lt Gen Rugeje.