ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission’s controversial preliminary delimitation report has created serious divisions in Zanu PF as one faction believes that there are manoeuvres to sideline its members, it has emerged.
The delimitation report tabled in Parliament on Friday has been criticised by some shadowy groupings linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa including the opposition and independent election watchdogs.
Those critical of the Zec report say it is flawed and are accusing the commission of gerrymandering by using the wrong formula to calculate the minimum and maximum threshold of voters to determine the redrawing of electoral boundaries ahead of the elections.
A Zanu PF activist Tonderai Chidawa and member of a faction linked to Mnangagwa claimed that state security agents were after him after he challenged the delimitation report.
According to his lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, Chidawa was subjected to torture after his capture by suspected state agents.
The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), a leading local think-tank, in a report released yesterday titled: ZEC Delimitation Report – Electoral Rigmarole and Elite Discohesion? said the delimitation exercise has exposed the alleged tussle for the control of the ruling party between Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.
ZDI said the fresh fights were a continuation of the battle for the control of Zanu PF that started soon after the coup that toppled long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017.
It said factional wars also played out in the run-up to Zanu PF’s congress last year when Mnangagwa retained his position as party leader unchallenged.
“Fundamentally, the botched delimitation speaks to infighting within the ruling party elites,” ZDI said.
“It is a continuation of the post-coup and post-2022 Zanu PF congress, our view is that the delimitation report generally and overall benefits Zanu PF as a political party, but disadvantages one faction in the power matrix and configuration of the securocratic state.”
ZDI said the report also exposed the unresolved Zanu PF leadership question post-Mugabe.
“The fact that seven out of nine commissioners most of whom are recent appointees of President Mnangagwa have written distancing themselves from the preliminary report leaves Zec divided between its chair (Priscila Chigumba) and deputy chair (Rodney Kiwa) vis- a-vis the rest,” the think-tank said.
The commissioners have reportedly written to Mnangagwa expressing their opposition to the delimitation report.
“The divisions within Zec when understood in the context of the court challenge by Tonderai Chidawa, a renowned ally of Mnangagwa during the Zanu PF factional fights that led to Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power and the fast rebuke by the Parliament ad-hoc committee headed by Pupurai Togarepi [exposed the infighting],” ZDI said
“Togarepi’s constituency of Gutu South in Masvingo was wiped out despite having more registered voters, 186 453 compared to Gutu East 16 822 and Gutu North 15 359.
“It is, therefore, not surprising that the committee that he heads has dismissed the report.
“One can argue that key Mnangagwa allies such as Togarepi were key victims of the delimitation report in the grand power struggles in Zanu PF.”
It added: “In conclusion, the Zec preliminary delimitation report confirms assertions that have been averred by the ZDI since 2012 that the independence of Zec is compromised by its strong links with the ruling party and the securocratic state complex and incompetency to handle democratic, free and fair election in Zimbabwe.”
According to ZDI, the noise surrounding the delimitation document would have been avoided if Zec had done transparent, widespread consultations.
“If Zec had widely consulted key stakeholders in Zimbabwe as stated in section 37(A) of the Electoral Act, this error could have been avoided,” ZDI said.
“The lack of quality consultation was deliberate in order to simultaneously push and advance a factional position in the Zanu PF elite power struggles and disadvantage the opposition.”
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiCZ) said the Zec report showed that Zimbabwe was not ready for elections.
CiCZ spokesperson Obert Masaraure said the state involvement in electoral processes was a threat to a free and fair election.
“Zimbabwe is not ready for elections because we cannot be discussing the delimitation report while Zec has totally made it difficult for the people of Zimbabwe to access the voters’ roll,” Masaraure said during a civil society and political parties discussion and reflections on the delimitation report hosted by the Election Resource Centre (ERC).
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the furore over the report may be a ploy by the ruling party to delay or postpone this year’s elections
“What is all happening is a question of an unaccountable independent election body which is the Zec and some political groups which are not hopeful to win an election,” Saungweme said.
“The end game for Zanu PF is to delay the election.”
Mnangagwa will be seeking a second full term in office in this year’s elections.
Soon after the 2018 elections the 80-year-old ruler revealed that there were some Zanu PF MPs plotting to impeach him before he could finish his term.
This was after Mnangagwa perfomed badly in some constitutencies that were won comfortably by Zanu PF candidates.