. . . forcibly stops election as preferred candidate Lunga is disqualified
. . . faction leaves venue with tails tucked between legs
MASVINGO – There was chaos and pandemonium over the weekend in Masvingo when a Zanu PF faction allegedly led by provincial chairperson Robson Mavhenyengwa and backed by the famous Gutu brigade forcibly stopped provincial youth chair elections last Saturday (July 30) after the faction’s preferred candidate Israel Lunga was disqualified for being over aged.
The election was meant to replace former youth chair John Paradza who was elevated to the national youth league to become the deputy secretary for youth affairs at the youth congress held in Harare few months ago.
Three candidates; Charles Munganasa, Delight Mandebvu and Israel Lunga were tussling to replace Paradza. However, the provincial leadership and ZANU PF bigwigs led by Gutu brigade comprising of ZANU PF’s security ‘supremo’ Cde Lovemore Matuke, deputy secretary for youth affairs Cde (Hon) John Paradza and Masvingo provincial political commisar Cde Brian Munyoro together with the newly elected national secretary for Gender and Culture and popular G40 member, Cde Naledi Maunganidze working in cahoots with Masvingo provincial chair Cde (Hon) Robson Mavhenyengwa allegedly influenced the national team that was supposed to help conduct the elections to stop forthwith soon after it emerged that Lunga was no longer eligible to contest for youth league positions according to the circular released by the Zanu PF party before the day of election.
Under normal democratic elections where the leadership or presiding officers have no clandestine agenda, if one candidate out of three is disqualified the remaining two would then contest, and if they are two and one is disqualified then the other one would be automatically declared the winner.
However, the leadership exposed itself and openly declared their unfettered interests in the disqualified candidate by influencing the stoppage of the elections despite having two other candidates having qualified. According to information obtained by this publication, the above mentioned crew led by Matuke had connived to impose the over aged Lunga with Maunganidze and Munyoro playing pivotal roles in making sure the mooted agenda came to fruition. Evidence brought forward to this publication clearly outlined the roles each played in this clandestine agenda of imposing the infamous Lunga who dismally lost the Chiredzi constituency basket provincial election to one Tendai Mahiya with Mavhenyengwa smuggling in Lunga ahead of the popular Mahiya.
WhatsApp chats and audios viewed by this reporter showed that the trio of Munyoro, Maunganidze and Mavhenyengwa were working hand and glove with Matuke and Paradza who were issuing instructions to be executed by the trio. Munyoro was found threatening and frog marching all district youth chairpersons from Gutu and forcing them to go and vote for Lunga or else risk being expelled from the party. Maunganidze seemed to be the ‘blesser’ of the team as she madly forked out thousands of United States dollars to force the electorate into camp two days before the crucial election. It is reported that Mavhenyengwa was tasked with travel logistics where he weighed in with hundreds of liters of fuel for the occasion.
Despite the fact that the deputy secretary Paradza is the one who developed the circular that clearly stipulated that all youths candidates should be below 35 years on the day of elections, Paradza and team seemed confused and were determined to defy their own circular by fielding the over aged Lunga leaving the electorate and observers with many unanswered questions with many questioning his leadership skills given the way he has successfully torn Masvingo youth league into shreds.
When contacted for comment about the uncouth behaviour and decision, Mavhenyengwa was at sixes and sevens as he struggled to give convincing response as to why the election had to be stopped when two other candidates were still eligible since the circular guiding the elections was very clear that only candidates below the age of 35 on election day will be eligible to contest.
For starters, the trio – Munganasa, Mandebvu and Lunga were initially in the same Mavhenyengwa faction and they all have positions in the youth provincial executive as secretary for administration, deputy chair and political commissar respectively. Having three candidates breaking away from the same faction is overwhelming evidence that the faction is indeed in shambles.
Munganasa has since crossed the floor and joined the other faction allegedly led by former provincial chair Cde Ezra Chadzamira leaving the other camp with two candidates. It is very unfortunate for Mandebvu who was dumped for Lunga on the basis that the faction suspects him to be a blue-eyed boy for Major General (Rtd) Engelbert Rugeje whom they feel is a threat to them.
Sources privy to the factional divisions in the province said Gutu district is the culprit for all this confusion because it wants to control the whole province willy-nilly. The Mavhenyengwa faction refers to Gutu district as their joker in any election and Matuke’s blue eyed guy, Munyoro is always available to unleash this ammunition at any given time. It is reported that Matuke wants Munyoro to take over the reigns of Masvingo province as the provincial chair in a movie like style.
With the level of polarisation and chaos witnessed in Masvingo province on Saturday, party members said, allowing the Gutu brigade to continue imposing candidates against the will of the electorate and violating party guidelines and circulars guiding the elections is tantamount to destroying the party ahead of 2023 elections. This happened during the provincial elections and went unchecked and history is about to repeat itself again.
“Party leadership should allow the youths to choose a leader of their choice. Meddling in youths politics and wanting to influence or rig in favour of an over aged candidate will have consequences in the future,” said a party member who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation.