DOZENS of fresh faces are seeking nomination to represent Zanu-PF in the 31 July harmonised elections. As many sages in the revolutionary party graciously give younger cadres space to challenge them or having them to compete among themselves, youthful lawyers, economists, medical doctors, academics, engineers, journalists, scientists and businesspersons who flourished because of Zanu-PF’s indigenisation and empowerment programmes have put their names forward to participate in primaries on Monday.
Dr Gatsha Mazithulela, Dr Paul Chimedza, Dr Joseph Kurebwa, Dr Vengai Guni, and Cdes Supa Mandiwanzira, Mainos Mudukuti, Tafadzwa Musarara, Basil Nyabadza, Eddison Zvobgo (Jr), Jonathan Samukange, Jabulani Nkomo, Isaac Muzenda, Christopher Nharo Gwatidzo, Elias Musakwa, Coxwell Chigwanha, Gabriel Chaibva, Robson Mhandu, and Freddy Ndoro are among the several young and new faces who might grace the National Assembly after 31 July.
Cdes Mike Gava, Khumbulani Mlilo, Joshua Sacco, Kudzanai Chipanga, Obert Mutasa and Ratidzai Marumahoko are members of the Zanu-PF Youth League.
Others like real estate magnate Dr Phillip Chiyangwa, telecommunications guru, Cde Daniel Shumba, and Cdes David Butau, Chenhamho Chimutengwende and Christopher Kuruneri, are plotting a return. Dr Chiyangwa is a former party provincial chair for Mashonaland West and MP for Chinhoyi. Cde Shumba has served as the provincial chair for Masvingo before. Cde Butau is a former legislator for Guruve North, while Cde Kuruneri at one point represented Mazowe in the House of Assembly and was Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Cde Chimutengwende is a former Minister of Information and Zanu-PF provincial chairman for Mashonaland Central.
Cde Sacco is one of the two cadres who are challenging Dr Samuel Undenge for Chimanimani East, while Cde Chipanga is in the same race with the likes of Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made. Cde Mlilo, who is the Youth League National Secretary for Transport and Social Welfare and sits in the Central Committee, is seeking nomination for Nketa, in Bulawayo competing against senior party members including Cde Elifasi Mashaba.
“The party told us that there would be no quota for the Youth League, but gave us the go-ahead to participate wherever we could,” said Cde Mlilo.
“That is what a forward-looking party does for its young people. They said ‘nothing can stop you from seeking nomination’ as long as the people want you. I am one of the leaders in the Youth League who heeded that call. As for me I can say I grew up in the party from 1998 when I became a party member in Hlomani district. I rose through the ranks until I was elected into the provincial Youth League structure for Bulawayo and in September 2009, I was elected into the national executive as secretary for transport. In December of that year, the party said heads of department in the Youth League can sit in the Central Committee, so I am in the Central Committee like other HOD’s. The party has given us a chance to grow.
In the past we were just in the Youth League, but as I said, the party came up with a provision for us to be in the Central Committee, a key organ pf the party. So we are growing like that.”
Over the past few days, Zanu-PF has been accepting applications and CVs from prospective candidates who would fight it out in primary elections to be held across the country’s 210 constituencies countrywide on Monday. On Wednesday, the Politburo went through the names of members who would contest in the internal election and approved most of them. Prior to that, the party’s National Elections Directorate which is chaired by Cde Simon Khaya Moyo had gone through the huge list of aspirants. The full list of candidates was released on Thursday, showing many new faces, young cadres and returnees. For most of this week, the aspirants were on the ground, campaigning.
Cde Musarara made his name as a commercial miller and natural resource watchdog. Now, he has set sights on Mazowe West constituency in Mashonaland Central. Eight other members are seeking the same seat in one of Zanu-PF’s traditional strongholds.
“I am happy that the party has opened up to us, the youth, or the younger generation,” he said speaking from the constituency. I feel that the party is getting stronger and stronger, getting that winning formula. The 18 to 40 year age group is the majority of the national population and these people want to be represented by those of that generation. It is great that we are being given the chance to work under the tutelage of President Mugabe. It is important that new MPs and leaders come in to work with the experienced ones in the party. They will give us, the new ones the requisite guidance as we learn the ropes.”
He said the campaign for Mazowe West was tough with eight other cadres in the contest.
“My brother, it is tough in this area which is our traditional stronghold,” he said.
“I must say it is tougher at this stage (primary) because once you win the primary you are already in Parliament. But let’s hear what the people say on Monday.”
Cde Musarara said if more younger people are elected as MPs on the Zanu-PF ticket, the revolutionary party would be able to match the MDCs, on age and energy, but outmatch them on experience as the British-backed party is inherently inexperienced.
According to the rules and regulations released last week, aspiring candidates must have consistently and persistently served the party for at least five years, have participated in the liberation struggle, shown commitment to the ideals of the party and be knowledgeable about social, political and economic matters of the country. The guidelines however offer waivers for people who might not have had the chance to be paid up party members because of the nature of their jobs. If one is a civil servant, for example, he or she cannot hold a political post. The five-year service rule does not apply to these.
Dr Mazithulela, a scientist of note on the continent falls into the last category. The expert in biotechnology who until recently was primarily based abroad, was approved as one of the aspirants for Bulawayo Central constituency. His opponents are Cdes Charles Chiponda, Mlungisi Moyo, Simangaliso Masuku and Charles Moyo.
“The argument of the failure of the MDC to deliver in the last 14 years is well chronicled,” said Dr Mazithulela.
“I have taken a lot of my time to formulate ideas on how to turn the economy of Bulawayo around. I have the best chance of delivering on this at national level. I hope fellow comrades in the party will recognise this when they vote on Monday.”
Dr Mazithulela holds a PhD in Genetic Engineering and Molecular Virology from the John Innes Centre (UK). He has professional experience in research and development earned in the biotechnology sectors of government and large multinational businesses.
Cde Chaibva, a tough-talking political analyst who is also eyeing Sunningdale constituency in Harare, said Zanu-PF is the only party in the country which practices democracy as every member, from the Politburo down to the cell and branch is free to seek office. He gave examples of Politburo members Cdes Webster Shamu (National Secretary for the Commissariat), Ignatius Chombo (National Secretary for Lands), and Rugare Gumbo (National Secretary for Information and Publicity) who are being challenged in the primaries. This, said Cde Chaibva, is contrary to the practice in other parties which have so-called untouchables whose positions are guaranteed and possible adversaries are cowed into inaction.
“Zanu-PF is the only party that is systematically undergoing self-renewal,” said Cde Chaibva.
“It is the only party that is undergoing political transformation. The young cadres have to go through the mill; they must be grilled to understand the ideology of the party. That is the only way we can guarantee sustenance for the party. It is a party for the youth and everyone. The revolution was fought by the young and the party recognises that it can only go forward by having young ones in leadership positions. Just look at the manner in which the party has done its nomination process; peaceful and democratic. Zanu-PF, whether you like it or not, is the only democratic party in the country where everyone can be contested; where anyone can challenge anyone with no reprisals tomorrow. The fact that a few comrades are not contested is because other people felt they have no chance against them, not that someone was pushed aside.”