PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday finally announced that the long-awaited by-elections to fill 133 vacant local government and parliamentary seats would be held in March next year.
Mnangagwa made the announcement during an extraordinary session of the Zanu-PF politburo, where he bemoaned factionalism and infighting tearing the ruling party apart.
“As we prepare for the forthcoming by-elections next year in March, and the 2023 harmonised elections, let us focus on mobilising our membership to register as voters,” he said.
The President has been under pressure from civic groups, election watchdogs, United Kingdom parliamentarians and the opposition over the delays in announcing the date for the polls.
The seats became vacant following the recall of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa admitted that district and provincial elections exposed deep-seated factionalism in the party.
Factions aligned to Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga have sought to outwit each other and land key positions ahead of provincial elections which have been postponed to early next year.
“Those bent on using the election and other party platforms and to advance their narrow and counter-revolutionary agendas such as tribalism, regionalism and other divisive actions must be exposed. Such behaviour will never be entertained in this party,” the Zanu-PF leader said.
There have been reports of party members physically attacking each as they campaigned to land posts in the district and provincial structures.
In some provinces, the elections had to be aborted amid complaints of massive rigging.
“The party’s internal elections are always processes that ensure the renewal, rejuvenation and growth of our colossal revolutionary party,” Mnangagwa said.
“I, therefore, urge contesting candidates to accept the outcomes of the elections which are an expression of the majority view, whose results are binding to members.”
In September this year, then Zanu-PF acting commissar Patrick Chinamasa had to intervene to quell raging tensions among party members, prompting him to postpone the filling of vacant positions following revelations that the process has sparked serious infighting.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa has reshuffled the politburo and appointed Christopher Mutsvangwa as the substantive party spokesperson following the death of Simon Khaya Moyo.
Mike Bimha, who was the acting party spokesperson, was appointed the national political commissar, a post which was being held by Chinamasa in an acting capacity.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube was appointed politburo member representing Bulawayo province.
Information minister Monica is now deputy secretary for education, while Alice Dube was appointed politburo member, replacing Cain Mathema.