Home » Governance » Mugabe Decides On Harare East Candidate

President Robert Mugabe’s name has been sucked into the bitter fight within Zanu PF over the contentious Harare East by-elections where two candidates from the ruling party are contesting against each other, The Standard can reveal.

Documents in The Standard’s possession show that Mugabe made the final call to have Zanu PF aspiring candidate for Harare East constituency Terrence Mukupe’s candidature withdrawn at the 11th hour, moments before the nomination court sat in Harare last month ahead of the June 10 by-election.

The documents chronicle the events leading to the ruling party pulling the plug on the career banker, even though Mukupe had won the Zanu PF primary elections for the constituency against former Zifa Women’s Football boss Mavis Gumbo.

In a hard-hitting letter to party political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere on April 30, Zanu PF acting Harare provincial chairperson Goodwills Masimirembwa raised damning allegations on the Water and Environment minister, coming short of openly accusing him of imposition.

But more tellingly, Masimirembwa provided a window into the intricate world of Zanu PF political gamesmanship, revealing how Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko was roped in to resolve the raging dispute. This followed g objections by the provincial leadership against Mukupe’s candidature moments before his papers were to be accepted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

“Hon I [Ignatius] Chombo telephoned me and instructed me to go and see Vice-President Mphoko to explain Harare province’s objection,” said Masimirembwa.

“Harare province secretary for legal affairs D (Danny) Masukuma, secretary for finance D (Dumisani) Chipango, and myself proceeded to Vice-President Mphoko’s office, met with him and explained the province’s objections to Mukupe’s candidature.”

Masimirembwa said his team managed to convince Mphoko.

“(He) agreed with our objections and the province’s recommendations that Gumbo who had come second in the primaries replaces him. He aised us that he was going to consult his Excellency Cde Mugabe on the matter. After a while the Vice President instructed us that Mukupe’s candidature should be withdrawn and be replaced by Gumbo,” the letter reads.

Mphoko, according to the letter, then personally aised Chombo of the new development after which the party administration chief wrote to ZEC dumping Mukupe.

Following the withdrawal of his name, Mukupe approached the Electoral Court which ruled in his favour ordering that the two had every right to represent the party. According to Masimirembwa, Kasukuwere filed an affidavit supporting Mukupe in the Electoral Court case, while the provincial leadership filed opposing affidavits.

The party commissar on April 29 wrote to Masimirembwa ordering him to withdraw his opposing affidavit at the court before the case was heard.

“Pursuant to our letter addressed to yourself dated 14th April 2015, copy of letter dated 17th April 2015 addressed to ZEC chairperson and served on you and subsequent discussions held between you and myself in a meeting held at Zanu PF headquarters on April 21st 2015, you are hereby instructed to unconditionally withdraw the objections you filed in court regarding the above matter in order to allow the party to retain Mukupe as the official and only Zanu PF candidate for the Harare East constituency,” Kasukuwere wrote.

Contacted for comment on Friday, Kasukuwere was not impressed.

“That level of desperation is unacceptable. Whoever gave you that information has gone over the line. I have not received any letter,” he said.

His order however was rebuffed, prompting an angry response from Masimirembwa who then tried in a long-winding letter to remind Kasukuwere of the facts surrounding the matter.

“I refer to your instruction contained in your letter of the 29th addressed to me wherein you are compelling me to withdraw my opposition to Mukupe’s appeal to the Electoral Court over the rejection of his nomination papers, and write to aise with great respect that your instruction will render me guilty of disobeying a decision made by my superior authority to yourself and make me acquiesce to allegations of fraud made against me,” said Masimirembwa.

Mukupe, according to Masimirembwa’s letter, was disqualified by the Zanu PF provincial election directorate “together with 13 other aspiring candidates … for failing to meet the five-year criteria of membership of the party at district level as stipulated by the party’s rules”.

“Mukupe did not appear in any cell, branch or district or provincial structure of the party until the beginning of April 2015 when he joined a cell in Highlands district and registered as a voter on the 2nd of April 2015. (He) also stands accused of corrupt practices during campaigning for the primary elections,” Masimirembwa alleged.

Mukupe refused to say much more than: “all nonsense, utter rubbish”.

Harare East constituency previously held by former Finance minister and opposition leader Tendai Biti is important to Zanu PF as the ruling party tries to impose itself on the capital following a decade and half of rejection.

The vital seat’s environs include high security areas such as Mugabe’s multi-million dollar mansion in Borrowdale Brooke, Chikurubi Maximum Prison, the Support Unit depot and such other state-linked establishments dotted around the leafy area.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard