Opposition ZAPU has reaffirmed a resolution barring presidential aspirants who have not been card-carrying members of the party for the past five years from contesting the presidency at its elective congress set for next month.
On Saturday, the party’s National People’s Congress (NPC) held a meeting and 24 members voted in favour of the clause while eighteen voted against it.
Zapu secretary-general Strike Mnkandla, who is also eyeing the presidency, told Southern Eye that the clause was necessary to block “omafikizolo” (latecomers) and Zanu PF proxies from assuming the party’s reins. He said:
The idea is that when choosing people, we must ensure that someone does not come from Zanu PF and contest party positions. You cannot just have an open-door policy. As such, members must be paid up, must have served the party in various capacities for years and so forth.
It (decision) simply says you cannot contest for the leadership when you have never served in any organ, in any district or in any capacity. This decision is not meant to penalise anybody but to ensure that aspiring leaders know where the organisation is, where it has come from and where it is going. It has to be a continuous process.
Party insiders said the resolution was allegedly targeted at, among others, Sibangilizwe Nkomo, the son of the late Zapu founding leader Joshua Nkomo.
Nkomo has been accused by other presidential aspirants of being an inheritance hunter, adding that he was a latecomer and wanted to turn the party into a “family and clan dynasty”.
Nkomo, who resigned in March as chairperson of both the Joshua Nkomo Cultural Movement and the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project Trust, after entering the race for the Zapu presidency, yesterday maintained that he was qualified to contest. He said:
It does not affect me. I have been a card-carrying member of the party since 2010.
Other Zapu party members eyeing the presidency are spokesperson Iphithule Maphoda, Matabeleland South spokesperson Matthew Sibanda, Bernard Magugu and Mqondobanzi Magonya.
Issac Mabuka, who has been acting president since the death of Dumiso Dabengwa, opted out of the race.
The original ZAPU was formed in the 1960s and was led by Joshua Nkomo. The party merged with ZANU in the 1980s following a way to foster peace in Zimbabwe following Gukurahundi.
The current outfit was “revitalised” by individuals who were not happy with the treatment former ZAPU members were getting from their ZANU counterparts.