The withdrawal by Zanu PF Mutare North candidate and central committee member, Esau Mupfumi, from the party’s primary electoral race held last Tuesday, in protest of what he claimed was inapt behaviour by his rivals has sparked outrage in the constituency.
By Brian Mangwende recently in Manicaland
In a snap survey conducted by The Standard in 10 of the 17 district wards, it was clear many were disgruntled for they said Mupfumi was quick to give in and had jumped ship to concentrate on his business empire, at the expense of the welfare of the constituency.
In Odzi, Lazarus Samudzimu said: “It is quite sad that Mupfumi has decided to abandon us at a time we thought we could work together and win these elections. Actually, this man has betrayed us. Is this politics, that when we need you most you run away from us?”
In Nhamburiko, Biggie Chidemu said tribalism could have led Mupfumi to withdraw, while Never Bvududu said the youths belong to Mupfumi’s rivals were either tearing his posters or replacing them with their preferred candidates calling him a trouble causer.
Said Chidemu: “You see, people were saying that Mupfumi must go back to Chivhu where he was born and stop meddling in politics in this province. They called him all sorts of names and I think for a central committee member to be humilitated like that is just not right, so I don’t blame him for withdrawing. How then, even, if he contested and won was he going to work with such people. It was going to be a recipe for disaster.”
On the eve of the polls, Mupfumi, who was to face eight other candidates, wrote a letter to the provincial chairman Ambassador John Bvundura, withdrawing his candidature, citing unruly behaviour by his nemesis and their supporters. He accused them of destroying his campaign posters.
Wrote the Mutare business tycoon: “I have realised that our constituency, Mutare North, has become highly fragmented due to the fact that so many cadres have chosen to participate in the primary elections.
“My moving in as a candidate after the announcement of the date for the primaries elections appears to have caused panic to the other contestants, leading to a lot of unbecoming behaviour taking place.”
He went on: “As central committee member and a father figure in the District of Mutare, it is my responsibility to unite the party, hence I have seen it fit to withdraw from the primary elections…and allow the other candidates to participate, lest the name of the party is put into disrepute.”
Initially, nine candidates had submitted their CVs but after former provincial chairman Mike Madiro was suspended from the party on stock theft charges, charges the courts acquitted him, the number went down to eight.
Although Mupfumi, a former policeman, said he would continue to participate in party activities and support the winning candidate alongside President Robert Mugabe in the forthcoming harmonised polls, his supporters were not convinced he was genuine, but instead abandoned them.
Speaking to The Standard on Tuesday, Mupfumi down played the reasons for his withdrawal preferring to say: “I will work with the winner and I have no hard feelings. When one door closes another opens.”
Eventually, Batsirayi Pemhenayi pulled through to win the primaries, whose turnout was huge.
The others were Godfrey Mundagowa, Sam Gamunorwa, Admire Mahachi, Pedigree Matara, Robert Gumbo, and July Manyeu.