ZANU-PF bigwig forced to flee mob after primary election rigging claims spark fury

Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF, has descended into chaos after claims of vote rigging in primary elections triggered an angry mob in Gokwe that forced a top party official to flee.

Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavhima, a ZANU-PF bigwig, had come to Chief Chireya’s homestead to preach unity after disputed primaries marred by accusations of rigging in favor of Torerai Moyo. But a furious crowd gathered instead, heckling Mavhima before he could even start speaking.

The mob accused Local Government Minister July Moyo and ex-minister Owen Ncube of manipulating the results using the notorious Forever Associates outfit to ensure Moyo’s victory, despite leaked command center figures supposedly showing Jeremiah Ndukulani winning by 54 votes.

When Chief Chireya tried to calm the crowd and urged them to listen to Mavhima – who the chief said had been “sent by the President” – the anger only intensified. Mavhima and his entourage hastily fled the chief’s homestead, abandoning his plea for reconciliation.

The chaos is indicative of wider turmoil in ZANU-PF after highly disputed primary polls. The ruling party is struggling to mobilize supporters in Midlands due to infighting. Meanwhile, a social media ban aimed at stemming divisions appears to have only inflamed tensions ahead of August elections.

ZANU-PF Youth League leader Tino Machakaire visited Mashonaland West to preach unity, acknowledging feuding party factions. But his pleas may fall on deaf ears as anger over alleged rigging threatens to tear the former liberation movement further apart.