ZANU-PF polls to elect new provincial executives across all provinces were conducted smoothly and in a peaceful, free and fair manner yesterday.
Provincial chairpersons of the Main Wing, Women’s League and Youth League in the country’s 10 provinces will be elected.
The ruling party dissolved all provincial executive structures ahead of yesterday’s intra-party elections to choose new provincial leadership.
In Bulawayo, the process went on well with the voting exercise starting at 11am and ending at 6pm.
Politburo member Cde Kenneth Musanhi is overseeing the electoral process in Bulawayo. He is being assisted by Brigadier-General (Rtd) Walter Kanhanga, who is also a Politburo member, and four Central Committee members from Masvingo province.
Former Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda, former Mpopoma-Pelandaba MP Cde Joseph Tshuma, Bulawayo war veterans’ chairman Cde Cephas Ncube and Cde Obert Msindo are among those eyeing the top post in the province.
Others are Cdes Douglas Mpofu and Mlungisi Moyo. Cdes Rebecca Manjere, Zeria Ngozo and Cde Joyce Sibanda contested for the Women’s League top post.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Cde Raj Modi are also seeking to get into the provincial structure in Bulawayo province.
Those vying for the top post under the youth wing are Cde Freedom Murechu, Cde Bhekinkosi Dube and Cde Mayibongwe Zvigadza. A total of 70 candidates in Bulawayo are contesting in the polls.
Speaking during a tour of polling stations, Brig Gen (Rtd) Kanhanga said they were happy with the process.
“We are moving around polling stations and everything is going on well. We are looking forward to successful polls,” he said.
Addressing candidates at Davies Hall earlier before the elections, Cde Musanhi commended the Bulawayo leadership for mobilising supporters ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
“May I take this opportunity to applaud Bulawayo province for the tremendous progress in terms of mobilisation.
Two years ago, we had only 34 districts and today we have 61 and we applaud the leadership for doing well,” he said.
In Matabeleland North, most polling stations opened at 7AM as scheduled, although there were slight delays in
Binga due to logistical challenges caused by long distances.
Party members who spoke to the Chronicle news crew in Umguza District at Mahlothova Primary School expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the intra-party elections were being conducted.
One of the voters, Cde Rebecca Moyo, said: “We are voting to choose leaders who will be able to steer the party ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections. The leadership we are choosing today should drive the Zanu-PF agenda so that we can have a sweeping victory in the forthcoming elections.”
She said they were freely exercising their democratic rights.
“No one coerced us to vote for any candidate and candidates were able to campaign peacefully,” said Cde Moyo.
Another party member Cde Aaron Mutema, who was voting at the same polling station, said the atmosphere was conducive for free and fair elections.
Zanu-PF secretary for war veterans in the Politburo Cde Douglas Mahiya commended Matabeleland North province for conducting the elections in a peaceful manner.
He visited several polling stations in Lupane District and expressed satisfaction with the manner in which party members conducted themselves.
“I have to mention the peaceful atmosphere in Matabeleland North. I think it has aided us to conduct the election without incidences. The public needs to know that we have done it again and these elections have demonstrated who we are,” said Cde Mahiya.
“Of course, we had problems here and there and in Binga, we started late, but all the same they managed to cast their votes. The smoothness of the polls shows that we have come of age.”
He said counting of the votes was expected to start last night and winners will be declared today.
“We are not going to be announcing any results at provincial level. We are just collecting the results which are going to be announced by the National Command Centre in Harare, but a copy of the results will be left at the district centre so that people can appreciate the outcome of the election at that level,” he said.
Cde Mahiya called for unity among those who participated in the polls.
“It is natural in any election there is bound to be a loser and a winner. We are one party and it means that if one of us wins, we have won as a party,” he said.
Voting in Matabeleland South went smoothly with party members observing Covid-19 protocols and maintaining peace throughout the process.
In Gwanda, voting was at Gwanda High School and Jahunda Primary School, while voters from other districts voted at 166 polling stations across the province.
In an interview at the Zanu-PF Matabeleland South provincial offices, Politburo member and head of the elections’ directorate for Matabeleland South province, Dr David Parirenyatwa said the voting exercise throughout the province went well.
“We came as a strong team because people from the province do not facilitate their own voting processes. We came as Politburo members, myself, Cde Alice Dube and Cde Tendai Chirau. We took along Central Committee members from Mashonaland West and they are the presiding officers in the various districts in the province,” he said.
“The progress has been good and there has been no violence. It was generally peaceful and I think the party will be stronger going forward.”
Dr Parirenyatwa said when President Mnangagwa dissolved the provincial executive structures that were in place, the aim was to rejuvenate the party.
“So many applications for people wanting to be in the province came through. And as you know, we had four candidates who wanted to be chairperson of this province. Three women wanted to lead the women’s league and two youths wanted to lead the provincial youth league,” he said.
“To me, it reflects that the party is attracting people, including the youths, because that is really where we are going. As we go further, we would be interested to know how many of the youths are interested in joining and help us to build the party.”
Dr Parirenyatwa said if supporters reflect on the vision of Zanu-PF and what the party hopes to achieve by 2030, there would be so much potential in Matabeleland South province.
“Most of the seats here belong to Zanu-PF and there is potential that in 2023, it will even be stronger,” he said.
Candidates for the position of chairman for the main wing were Cdes Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, Mathias Siqhoza Ndlovu, Never Khanye and Jabulani Dube.
Cdes Rona Moyo, Gladys Claus and Sindisiwe Nleya were contesting for the position of Women’s League chairperson, while Cdes Langton Ndlovu and Moses Langa were vying for the Youth League chairperson’s position.
In Beitbridge, voting started late in most areas and the electoral process was generally peaceful, with scores of party members braving the scorching heat to cast their vote.
Beitbridge District elections team leader, Cde Jenifer Mhlanga said the election process had been very peaceful and that there was a good voter turnout at all polling stations.
“We had an incident-free election and we are happy with the voter turnout. In fact, the election environment was very peaceful,” said Cde Mhlanga.
In Masvingo, voting kicked off without any incidents of violence. The beginning of actual voting in some areas was delayed due to logistical hitches and vagaries of the weather.
The main contest in Masvingo is for the post of party provincial chairperson pitting Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Ezra Chadzamira, who is also the immediate past chair of the party, against his former deputy, Cde Robson Mavhenyengwa, the party’s Zaka North legislator.
Voting was delayed in parts of Mwenezi and Chiredzi due to collapsed bridges and flooded rivers. The team supervising elections in Masvingo, led by Politburo member Cde Fredrick Shava and comprising fellow Politburo member Cde Monica Mutsvangwa, expressed optimism that all the stops would be pulled to make sure voting was completed yesterday.
Addressing the media on progress in the polls, Cde Shava said polling had been peaceful with no incidents of violence.
“Except for a few logistical hitches and vagaries of the weather, the process has gone on well and by past noon we had managed to deploy teams supervising the voting process at all the polling stations,” said Cde Shava.
“We have had some problems in some parts of Mwenezi and Chiredzi where voting has been delayed because of damaged bridges, but we hope the problem of floods will be managed so that all the voting takes place today. We don’t see ourselves repeating what has been done today and if there are further delays, we will inform head office.”
Cde Shava dismissed as fake a letter that was circulating on social media purportedly written by Cde Mavhenyengwa in which he allegedly complained about the existence of phantom polling stations in Masvingo district.
He branded the letter “fake and not authentic” saying only one polling station on the list circulating on social media tallies with what was on the list of polling stations sent to head office.
Cde Shava was backed by Cde Mutsvangwa, who said information that comes from social media should always be taken with a pinch of salt.
A survey across some polling stations in Masvingo District showed that voting in some areas started in the afternoon with members having waited since morning for voting material and teams that conduct the polls.
At Chief’s Hall in Masvingo City, voting only started around 4pm with long queues of party members resplendent in party regalia waiting outside to cast their ballots.
The situation was the same at Rhodene Swimming Pool where voting began around 2pm with voters saying material poll teams had arrived late.
In Chiredzi South constituency, polling was taking place at only one polling station, with others being inaccessible due a collapsed bridge.
In an interview with our sister paper The Herald last night, Zanu-PF National Political Commissar, Cde Mike Bimha, said voting ended well.
“The provincial elections started in earnest this morning commencing at different times in the various areas depending on a variety of factors. They include distance from command centres, the terrain as well as weather,” he said.
“There has been, as expected, few hitches here and there with most of them being attended to timeously. The polls have now been closed with counting taking place. Once results have been confirmed at the centre, they will be signed off by the district chairperson as well as the presiding officers and then submitted to the District Co-ordinating Committee centres who will in turn collate the same and submit these to their provinces.”
Cde Bimha said the provinces will collate all the results in their jurisdiction and submit them to the National Command Centre at the party’s headquarters in Harare.
He said election results were expected to start trickling in by midnight.
Cde Bimha said there were areas in Masvingo and Midlands provinces that experienced incessant rains, making it impossible for people conducting elections to get there on time.
“We have decided to give them an opportunity to do so early morning. So those centres that have been affected by rains will be voting tomorrow so that we give people an opportunity for them to exercise their democratic right to choose their leaders,” he said.