Factionalism, corruption cost Zanu-PF Norton seat
Zanu-PF lost the Norton parliamentary by-election to an independent candidate due to its failure to nip factionalism and corruption in the bud, coupled with the inability to sell progressive party programmes to the electorate on time, it has been learnt.
Observers also said the imposition of Cde Ronald Chindedza against the wishes of the people also played a pivotal role in his defeat to Mr Temba Mliswa.
Mr Mliswa garnered 8 927 votes against Cde Chindedza’s 6 192 in Saturday by-election.
Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Ignatius Chombo refused to dwell on the causes of the defeat, but admitted there was an urgent need for the party to “cleanse” rotten areas ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.
“After any election, the province and leadership should go back and make an honest assessment of the pros and cons, dwell on those issues that did not go well and clean those areas that need cleansing,” he said.
“The onus is now on the province, the leadership, all of us to give an honest assessment and ensure that what went wrong is rectified, so that we are ready for battle, come 2018. We, as always expected, have to come up with something that addresses issues which would have made people not come out and vote for the party. We are there to address people’s concerns, we are there to ensure service delivery and if people are not happy with anything we should move in and find a way to address those issues. We are a people-centred party.”
Asked if the by-election was not an indicator of the 2018 elections, Cde Chombo responded: “Not really, because we have won so many elections and this was just an odd one. One swallow does not make a summer.”
Zanu-PF national commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, said setbacks were normal and the revolutionary party would bounce back.
Cde Kasukuwere who did not respond to calls and messages sent to him yesterday, however, tweeted: “The message from the electorate is there for us to digest and we will return no doubt. Norton is home to great citizens and setbacks are normal. Norton ~ we will continue working together and fulfil our promises.”
Zanu-PF Youth Leader Cde Kudzai Chipanga, shifted the blame on the State media, without substantiating his claims. “Finally, the State media has won,” he curtly said.
However, University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki, said to win the 2018 harmonised polls resoundingly, Zanu-PF had to deal with vices that were destroying the party. “The first thing is they should not take voters for granted, because people watch what will be happening and make assessments,” he said.
“President Mugabe has always been preaching about unity in the party and certainly officials should do a lot to show the public that the party is speaking with one voice. If that is not the case, there will be a lot of ‘ bhora musango’ elements again. If you look at the circumstances and history surrounding this constituency, there were a lot of divisions. It is important to unite if the party is to make an impact in 2018.”
Prof Mupepereki went on: “Corruption is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and attempts to try to defend something that requires the law to take its course will take the party nowhere. If there are allegations, let the matter be aerated through the legal route, and if someone is not guilty it shall be proven. The public should not see as if there is a cover-up or someone is trying to stop an issue from going to court. This will play in the public psyche and we will have results like this one from Norton.”
Some Zanu-PF officials openly defended corruption during the campaign period and, “hungry” voters were not amused.
Prof Mupepereki said in Norton, Zanu-PF had a progressive programme of giving people residential stands, which reached the masses late: “Stands only came when elections were upon the people,” he said.
“They have to analyse issues dispassionately. It is not time for finger-pointing, but introspection.”
Another analyst Mr Tendai Toto, said while President Mugabe was always advocating for unity, some party members were pulling in the opposite direction.
“There is frictional and factional cancer in Zanu-PF,” he said. “There has been the unforgiven forced exit of able and useful party members as a result of the frictions and factions evident in the party. These cancers are planted by individuals who don’t believe that they can be led by leaders other than themselves. Of the membership and leadership surviving in Zanu-PF, many are guilty of leadership abuse and leap-frogging to control political power by virtue of belonging to this and that leader. 2018 elections are soon in the playground, and with these behaviours and conduct, the ‘bhora musango’ will plague Zanu-PF in a tremendous way.”
Some Zanu-PF supporters in Norton claimed that the commissariat department had imposed Cde Chindedza on them. Cde Chindedza yesterday said he was “too busy to comment” on the election result.
Said Mr Toto: “Preparing a candidate for an election is important. Selling him and the political party ideas on offer to hopeful citizens is also important. The last minute, quick fixing caused an embarrassing moment for the party. Zanu-PF must learn that overly relying on a few individuals for political counsel and advice can be disastrous, especially when the trusted talismen are uncaring masters of rhetoric and destructive political ideas.”
On corruption, Mr Toto said: “Government must put an effort to effectively address the calls by the nation to mitigate on institutionalised corruption and its destructive effects. The evident lack of will to deal with the bragging corruptionists who must stand the yardstick of lifestyle audit is worrisome to the nation.”
Another analyst Mr Maxwell Saungweme said Zanu-PF lost because of “multi-faceted” reasons.
“Corruption is one of them, where we have arrogance on the part of some Zanu-PF officials who publicly defend the vice,” he said. “Some of its officials are not serious about any of their pro-poor party programmes, but are interested in lining their pockets. If that trajectory plus factionalism continue, we will see change in 2018.”
Mr Mliswa said he easily won the by-election because of the in-fighting taking place in Zanu-PF.
“I felt l was unfairly expelled from Zanu-PF and eventually parliament. Remember me saying l will be back and now l am back!” he said.
“l simply maximised on the in-house fighting in Zanu-PF. How can l fail to win against a party whose whole political commissar is always firing people instead of recruiting? This is a message to Zanu-PF that if you don’t deal with your manifesto and concentrate on in-fighting, people will speak out like they did in Norton.”
The other candidate in Norton, Mr David Choga of National Consultative Assembly amassed 89 votes.
Vice President Mphoko’s wife Laurinda (right), presents chicks to one of the beneficiaries in Pumula, Bulawayo, yesterday