ZANU PF Congress sets tone for watershed elections

Chris Mahove, EDITOR

The ruling ZANU PF party concluded its 7th National People’s Congress at the weekend, setting the tone for the much anticipated 2023 harmonised elections in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be seeking a second term.

President Mnangagwa was unanimously endorsed as the party’s only presidential candidate, quashing speculation by some quarters that there was discord in the ruling party’s cockpit.

While several political parties and presidential candidates are set to contest for the elections, the real battle will be between ZANU-PF, with President Mnangagwa as its presidential candidate and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) whose presidential candidate will be Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa and his CCC party lost to President Mnangagwa in highly contested elections in 2018, with the former claiming victory following a Constitutional Court ruling that declared him a winner after Chamisa had challenged the presidential results.

The ruling party won a two thirds majority in both the House of Assembly and the Senate.

But as he officially closed the congress at the weekend, President Mnangagwa said its success was a great motivation for the party as it gunned for another five- year term in the hamornised elections, expected to be held between July and early August next year.

“The work to win these crucial elections has long begun,” he said.

And the party appears to be wasting no time, with President Mnangagwa handing over cars to provincial women’s league chairpersons and War veterans League Chairpersons for use during the campaign period.

The incorporation of the War Veterans as a wing of the party bolstered the party’s campaign mechanism as the liberation war veterans have always played a key role in ensuring the party’s victory in previous elections, and their inclusion in the party structures will bring more impetus.

“The bold decision to establish the war vets league completes the party agenda. This is the party of your sacrifices during the liberation struggle. Let us defend the party and our independence and freedom,” President Mnangagwa said as he officially opened the congress.

The party was also buoyed by the introduction of the ‘4ED’ affiliations as it has managed to win the support of several groupings such as the Pastors4ED, Teachers4ED, Nurses 4ED and Vapostori4ED among others, which it hopes will mobilise support in its favour for the elections.

“Tose tinokwana muhomwe ye zanu pf huyai. ZANU PF has an onerous covenant with the people of Zimbabwe, a generational mission to fulfil,” President Mnangagwa said, adding he was elated that some professional bodies were behind his candidature.

President Mnangagwa said the party’s moblisation strategies must evolve around the mantra ‘leaving no one and no place behind’, adding that the party stood solid, rejuvenated and unshakable.

“A firm foundation has been laid, upon which we now mount our campaign strategy for a thunderous victory. Our systems are well-oiled. ZANU PF is ready. Nothing will stand in our way,” he said.

He said emerging from the National People’s Congress, the party leadership, starting from the Central Committee right down to the Cell/Village, should not bury their heads in the sand.

“We have a duty and obligation to lead from the front, with greater tenacity, resolve and determination,” he said.

He emphasised the need for violent free elections.

Political analyst, Vivid Gwede, noted that by clarifying their presidential candidate, ZANU PF had indeed, set the course for its election preparations.

“But we have not heard much of its post-Mugabe governance agenda after five years of a lackluster performance,” he said.

He said while the CCC had also been on the ground given their performance in the by-elections held across the country, they faced a mammoth task in the harmonised elections.

“But the 2023 harmonised elections will be a bigger and more demanding process, and therefore, will need more robust preparations,” he said.

Another analyst, Zunidza, however, said while the congress was an attempt by Zanu PF to set the tone for 2023 elections, it had failed in that regard.

“The party delegates return to their homes with the same stuff they came with. There were no leadership changes to rejuvenate the party which as we all know is mired in crisis as seen in endless internal squabbles. No new economic resolutions were made and the same actors who have ruined the economy through greed, corruption and mismanagement retained their positions,” he said

He said President Mnangagwa reluctance to strengthen his capacity by appointing a second State vice-president would leave him in a weak position towards the elections.

“The retention of party VPs Chiwenga and Mohadi who is ineligible for State VP means that position will remain vacant contrary to the 2013 constitution which provides for that appointment,” he said.

Critics have not given the biggest opposition in the country a chance in the harmonised elections given that the party, a remnant of the MDC led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, is yet to establish proper structures since its formation early this year.

Exiled Former Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo has even suggested that the CCC should be barred from contesting elections because it has no structures and no constitution.

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