Scramble for Mutasa seat

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MUTARE – There is a mad scramble within Zanu PF to succeed former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa as Member of Parliament for Headlands, with at least 15 candidates, all backed by opposing party heavyweights, expressing interest so far for the coveted seat.

Despite the fact that Zanu PF is yet to sanction official campaigning for the seat, the scores of aspiring candidates are already butting heads openly, following Mutasa’s recent controversial expulsion from Parliament which he is now disputing in the courts.

Mutasa is contesting his expulsion both from Zanu PF and Parliament in the High Court, and has made it clear — much to the chagrin of his erstwhile comrades in the ruling party — that he is going to stand as the candidate for the “real and legal Zanu PF” should the seat eventually go to a by-election.

With Zanu PF almost fatally divided along factional lines, rival camps are sponsoring different candidates, creating yet another deadly stage for the warring factions to club each other to death.

Acting Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson, Samuel Undenge, confirmed to journalists in Mutare on Friday that there were more than 15 people who had expressed interest to fill the Headlands seat.

“Didymus Mutasa has been expelled from Zanu PF and has also been recalled from Parliament, and so that necessitates the by-election. This morning, I was in Rusape meeting with aspiring candidates. We had many of them, they came up to more than 15,” Undenge said.

However, Mutasa insists that Zanu PF’s disputed congress that was held in Harare in December last year was illegal. To that extent, he adds, the party does not have the power to expel him from its ranks or appoint anyone in his place.

While Undenge also claimed that the massive number of potential party candidates was a sign of Zanu PF’s popularity, insiders said there were various conflicting interests that wished to be rewarded for supporting controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe during her “meet the people” rallies, while others wished to be rewarded for their long standing loyalty to the party.

“To me it was an expression that people like Zanu PF more than ever before. We have never had such a situation where we have 15 candidates expressing interest to stand for Zanu PF. It’s a good development,” Undenge said.

But an insider said the record number of candidates was “definitely going to further divide” the ruling party, which had been shaken to its core by the brutal purges of senior officials before, during and after its sham congress.

“This is definitely going to further divide the party because there are some very senior guys sponsoring their own candidates,” the source said.

In the meantime, Mutasa’s purported dismissal from Zanu PF has seen a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Manicaland, with Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the minister of Higher Education, now regarded as the “godmother” of the province.Dailynews

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