Zanu PF bends rules for opposition defectors; allows them to contest in primary elections

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By Darlington Gatsi

RULING party Zanu PF has bent its electoral rules to allow members who have defected from the opposition to stand in the upcoming party’s primary elections.

Zanu PF will hold its primary elections Saturday to elect members who will contest under the party in the general elections set for July.

Addressing the media Wednesday, Zanu PF commissar Mike Bimha said the party’s politburo decided to allow defectors to contest in primary elections.

“What is of interest is that a decision was made by the politburo to accept and recommend former members of the MDC or CCC who have recently come forward as returnees.

“These returnees were being coordinated by comrade Chebundo. They also submitted names of their members who wanted to contest in the primary elections.

“A decision was made by the politburo that any former MDC or CCC member willing to contest in the primary for local authority position or house of assembly are free to do so,” said Mike Bimha.

Zanu PF paraded former members of opposition parties in Harare including Collins Tsvangirayi among others.

The latest move by Zanu PF to allow these defectors to contest in the primary is against the earlier guidelines that allows one to contest in primary elections.

According to the party’s rules one should have served in the party for more than five years at district level to be eligible.

Political observers have said this will likely anger long serving members leading to bhora musango should they lose to the ‘returnees’.

Bimha said these defectators will only contest for local authorities and house of assembly as they are not qualified to stand for senate posts.

“However at the moment it was felt that it was too early to allow them to contest at senatorial level. It is important that a decision was made to allow former members of MDC or CCC to take part now that they have joined the party,” he said.

The build-up of primary elections has been marred by allegations of senior members thwarting opponents.

Bimha added that  an ad hoc committee was tasked with addressing grievances of disgruntled candidates.

“The thrust in all these exercises was that everyone who meets the criteria must come to the party. We discouraged any member from coming and trying to block any candidate who met the criteria. This time around we said everyone who wants to contest must come forward,” said Bimha.