ZANU PF’S new rules on primary elections are designed to protect the party from “nefarious machinations of opportunists” and will not be used to “target any comrades”, politburo member and Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo said on Friday.
Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesman, said a committee chaired by Didymus Mutasa which drew up the rules for the party’s internal elections to choose parliamentary candidates will table its proposals during the politburo next week.
The NewsDay newspaper claims Mutasa will recommend that individuals seeking to run for MP “must have served the party for no less than five consecutive years”.
The newspaper immediately speculated that Moyo, who left the party in 2005 and rejoined in 2009, would not be eligible because it is only three years since his readmission.
Other individuals who could be affected, the newspaper said, would be July Moyo, Phillip Chiyangwa, Daniel Shumba and Mike Madiro who were all suspended at some point over the last five years.
But according to the ZBC, “every card-carrying member who has served the party for five or more years is eligible to stand”. All the officials named by NewsDay would be free to contest under that criterion.
Moyo, responding to a NewsDay report on Friday claiming that he had said the party would “bend rules to allow him to stand”, said: “The five-year rule has absolutely and totally nothing to do with me personally and it therefore does not affect me in any way, shape or form in personal terms.
“This is because I have been in Zanu PF for all of my life and in case you don't know I am not five years old. The fact that I have been Zanu PF and defended the party as a liberation movement for my entire life is written in my mind, heart and blood and not in rubbish newspapers run by some cockeyed yellow journalists.”
Moyo said the rule was “intended to safeguard the party by protecting it from the nefarious machinations of opportunists, infiltrators, merchants and agents of regime change and other malcontents in our midst who are wont to use the pretext of elections to derail, demoralise, destabilise or destroy the party."
He added: "The rule is therefore not targeted at any comrades, particularly the so-called Young Turks, most if not all of whom are in the ranks of the youth, professionals or national security structures and may not have been politically active or visible due to their peculiar circumstances.
“Surely the situation of such comrades warrants exemptions from the rule by opening rather than shutting the electoral door to them? It is for this reason that serious minded and mature people, especially within leadership ranks, are always open to exceptions that prove the rule without getting carried away by the dogmas that proclaim the rule.”
Chiyangwa, who is eyeing his old Chinhoyi constituency, said NewsDay had “failed to interpret the [Zanu PF] statement”.
“I have served the party for many years. The rule did not say five consecutive years.”