…..Protest vote sinks Mnangagwa’s Masvingo blue-eyed boy
By Clayton Shereni, Masvingo Correspondent
THE battle for the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson’s post that raged between 2016 and 2017 was reignited in the recently held provincial elections which saw Provincial minister Ezra Chadzamira being upstaged by his former deputy, Robson Mavhenyengwa.
Then, a faction linked to the late president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace unsuccessfully tried several times to bulldoze its way, but their efforts hit unassailable bulwarks a as the province rallied unitedly against its candidate, retired army colonel Mutero Masanganise and stood with Chadzamira, who was fighting in then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s corner.
So fierce was the battled that a song was composed and renditioned during the 2016 annual conference, ironically held in Masvingo: “Kumagumo kune nyaya (there is trouble at the end).”
Indeed, trouble there was and, as they say, the rest is history.
The Politburo first nullified Chadzamira’s win and ordered a re-run but Chadzamira went on to win even more resoundingly.
The highest decision-making organ in the party had argued that some party members in rural Masvingo had failed to vote due to flooded rivers that hindered them from reaching polling stations on election day.
In May 2017, Masanganise threw in the towel citing a lot of irregularities, but the polls went on as scheduled and Chadzamira won in a landslide victory of 29 543 votes against 1 080 for his rival.
Chadzamira’s guts to challenge the former powerful colonel is a topic for another day, but he rose drastically to become arguably the most powerful Zanu PF politician in the province.
Although his political career in the ruling party is looks not very bright after his defeat by Mavhenyengwa, Chadzamira is still a powerful man as he retains his other posts of minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs, as well as that of Member of Parliament (MP) for Masvingo West.
Chadzamira, who is reported to be President Emmerson Mnangangwa’s blue-eyed boy in the province, seems to have made more enemies than friends during his stay at the Benjamin Burombo Government Building.
A number of protests and demonstrations were staged against him over alleged corrupt activities and nepotism.
Before the November 2017 coup, Chadzamira fought tooth and nail against alleged G40 elements in the province including the then Minister of State Dr Paul Chimedza; defending Mnangagwa and challenging his dismissal from the ruling party and presidium.
However, four years later, the tables have turned against him and faces a discourteous exit of the political arena, barring Mnangagwa’s clemency.
Commenting on the developments, political analyst Davison Mugodzwa said: “It seems like tables have now turned and factionalism is now rife in that party. There is a faction which appears to be more popular than the other and also rejection of those at the centre of power.”
Sources within the ruling party have revealed that Mavhenyengwa, who is also MP for Zaka North, was just a face fronting for a group of disgruntled Zanu PF bigwigs in the province.
It has also emerged that deputy minister of Finance, Clemence Chiduwa, who is also the Zaka East MP, was approached by the disgruntled bigwigs to challenge Chadzamira but he refused, pledging his allegiance to Chadzamira.
With violence, rigging and vote-buying being very common, non-existent structures were reportedly set-up in Gutu district where the plot to topple Chadzamira was masterminded allegedly by his alleged nemesis, Lovemore Matuke.
They allegedly fell out over land allocations.
Interestingly, Gutu became the swing district, with Chadzamira suffering the heaviest of losses.
He garnered a measly 508 votes against Mavhenyengwa’s 8 094.
Mavhenyengwa eventually got a total of 19 910 votes across all seven districts while Chadzamira got 17 233.
After the shocking defeat, it is reported that some Chadzamira sympathisers claimed the structures were tampered with in Gutu, but the same allegations were also levelled against them in Masvingo West where Chadzamira won.
In a telephone interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Mavhenyengwa said he was now shifting focus to 2023 elections and would want to promote unity amongst party members in the province.
“Our main focus is now on the five million votes campaign so that President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF win the 2023 elections resoundingly. The important issue is about unity, what we were doing was an in-house thing, no one lost or won. We were just giving each other positions,” Mavhenyengwa said.
Sources say Chadzamira has reportedly chose the diplomatic route of accepting defeat and pledging to support the winner.
Efforts to get an official comment from Chadzamira were futile as his mobile was not reachable and text messages sent to him had not been responded to up until the time of publishing.