Zim ruling party shuns big names

Posted in Africa | 03-Jan-05 | Source: Mail & Guardian Online

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe arrives at Parliament in the capital Harare to deliver his State of the Nation address December 9, 2004.
Just three months before parliamentary polls set for March, Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF has slashed several "prominent names" from contesting important party primary elections.

Information Minister and President Robert Mugabe's chief spin doctor Jonathan Moyo is one of three ministers prohibited from contesting the primaries.

Moyo, who fell from grace last month after calling an unauthorised meeting, is reported to have tried to resign last week.

Also dropped was Justice Minister and fierce Mugabe loyalist Patrick Chinamasa. He attended the meeting organised by Moyo, but is reported to have apologised to Mugabe.

Finance Minister Chris Kureneri, currently in remand prison where he is facing charges of illegally "externalising foreign currency", was also dropped from the primaries.

Zanu-PF has also said a flamboyant businessman and MP for the northern town of Chinhoyi, Phillip Chiyangwa, will be barred. Instead, he must leave room for a new "quota for women" to be introduced by the party.

Chiyangwa dropped from public sight four weeks ago after he was reportedly snatched by Zimbabwe's notorious Central Intelligence Organisation and held at the infamous Goromonzi torture farm.

He reappeared last week in a Harare Magistrate's Court to face charges of spying and leaking secrets to an unnamed foreign power.

The flashily dressed MP, who boasts of owning more than 500 suits, seemed to have his fate sealed on Monday when the state-controlled Herald carried a cartoon of Chiyangwa sitting on a prison bed saying: "Which khaki shall I wear today?"

Also dropped from Zanu-PF's list of primary election candidates are war veterans' leader and self-appointed head of farm invasions Joseph Chinotimba.

Chinotimba, who denied attending the "unauthorised meeting" in Zimbabwe's western Tsholotsho district, has made repeated unsuccessful attempts to garner support in opposition-held Harare townships.

Zanu-PF has also banned former lawmaker Tony Gara from contesting the primaries. Gara once compared Mugabe to "the son of God", causing an outcry in the country.

The calling of Zanu-PF primaries follows in the wake of the announcement of new constituency boundaries last month.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has cried foul over the new boundaries, pointing out that two constituencies in MDC-held Harare and Bulawayo have been taken from them, while three constituencies have been added to traditionally held Zanu-PF provinces.

Primaries are held before parliamentary polls and allow party members to select their prospective MPs. -- Sapa