George Maponga, Masvingo Bureau
Zanu-PF will hold primary elections on May 5 to elect council and National Assembly candidates who will represent it in the forthcoming harmonised polls expected in July, and has called for prospective candidates to start submitting their cirruculum vitae.
The party’s National Political Commissar Lieutenant General Engelbert Rugeje (Retired) yesterday announced a set of new measures that will guide the selection of ruling party candidates for the coming poll.
The measures are expected to ensure the selection process is fair and transparent, as Zanu-PF pulls all the stops to secure victory.
Addressing the Zanu-PF Masvingo Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting at Victoria Junior Primary School, Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd) said the ruling party under the new dispensation wanted to entrench values of fairness and transparency in the candidate selection process.
He warned aspiring candidates against campaigning until the national party leadership has given the nod.
“We are going to hold our primary elections on May 5 and I have already written letters to the provinces to that effect,” said Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd). “Aspiring candidates should start submitting their CVs for vetting, but I want to make it clear that we have not yet said people should start campaigning.
“We will notify aspiring candidates on when they should start campaigning. The reason we are saying aspiring candidates should not start campaigning is because some may not make it during vetting after spending their resources on the ground.
“So, I am warning aspiring candidates against premature campaigning because some may waste their resources. Campaigning will only start after the vetting process.’’
Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd) said campaigning by aspiring candidates would be done differently.
“No one will be allowed to campaign publicly alone unless maybe if the candidate embarks on private door to door campaigning,” he said. “We want all our candidates to campaign together, they will be moving and campaigning together.’’
Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd) said in line with the party’s constitution, Zanu-PF set up an Elections Commission ahead of the party primaries.
The Elections Commission will be a nine-member body chaired by Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd), with President Mnangagwa expected to appoint the remaining members soon.
Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd) said members of the Elections Commission would not contest in the primary elections.
“The Commission will act as the Ombudsman that will deal with complaints from aspiring candidates before, during and after the primaries,” he said. “The members should be individuals who are not eyeing positions in the primary elections and the fact that I chair the Commission automatically means I am out of the race (for a House of Assembly seat).”
Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd) said the Zanu-PF National Elections Directorate would still continue with its job, working alongside the Elections Commission.
Appointment into the Elections Commission to fill the eight vacant positions would be done to make sure all the ruling party provinces were represented.
In a bid to avoid conflict of interest in the vetting of primary election candidates by the Provincial Elections Directorate, only provincial members not contesting primary elections would constitute the party’s provincial elections management body.
“We have also made some changes to the effect that only party provincial executive members who will not be contesting in the primary elections will be chosen into the PED (Provincial Elections Directorate),” said Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd).
“The most senior member of the provincial executive who will not be contesting the primary elections will chair the PED, this was done to promote fairness and avoid conflict of interest.”
Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd) warned ruling party members against continued victimisation of alleged G40 cabal members, saying it was illegal.
“The only people who were kicked out from Zanu-PF were those whose expulsion was endorsed during last year’s Extraordinary Congress and their names were publicly announced,” he said.
“We do not tolerate continued harassment of fellow members on flimsy grounds that they were members of the cabal (G40) or aligned to Gamatox, that must stop.’’
Lt Gen Rugeje (Rtd) said the ruling party was going to embark on a restructuring exercise soon after the elections to make sure its structures were functional.
He said as part of Operation Restore Legacy, the revolutionary party leadership wanted more war veterans to be considered during the restructuring exercise.
Addressing the same meeting, Zanu-PF Secretary for Legal Affairs, Cde Paul Mangwana, said only members who had been in the party’s district structures for five years and above would be eligible to contest for a House of Assembly seat.
He said for one to contest primaries for council seats, they should have been a member of any party structure from the cell going upwards.
Candidates eyeing the Senate should have been members of the Zanu-PF Central Committee and above, said Cde Mangwana.
He said those in the civil service, unformed forces and other security services should first resign for them to be allowed to contest in the forthcoming party primary elections.
“If you are a civil servant or in the army, we are guided by the national constitution which says such people should be apolitical, therefore, for such people to be allowed to contest in the Zanu-PF primaries they must first produce a letter of resignation to the employer and a letter from the employer accepting the resignation,” he said.
Zanu-PF is expected to overwhelmingly win the elections following its internal renewal that resulted in the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe late last year.