PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has reportedly appointed his wife, Grace, to lead the ruling Zanu PF party’s 2018 election campaign with various teams, led by Cabinet ministers and politburo members, already on the ground conducting voter registration awareness programmes.
Supported by party secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, legal secretary Patrick Chinamasa and youth league boss Kudzanayi Chipanga, Grace, who is Zanu PF secretary for women’s affairs, will lead the party’s elections directorate that has been tasked to manage, supervise and mobilise for the 2018 polls.
Already, a high-powered delegation led by Chombo has started visiting provinces to train provincial leaders on the new voter system — the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise — and take stock of party structures ahead of the polls.
Zanu PF is divided into two distinct factions — the G40 reportedly led by Grace, and whose other kingpins are Kasukuwere and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, and Team Lacoste sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
There are fears that Grace’s team might use the opportunity to turn down applications from candidates forwarded by the rival faction.
Although party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the directorate would be led by Chombo, sources insisted that Grace was heading the team after Kasukuwere was relegated to superintend over sub-committees following the recent no-confidence votes passed on him by nine of the party’s 10 provinces.
“Chombo is the man in charge of the elections directorate and all the sub-committees work to support the directorate.
“At the moment, we are mobilising our supporters for voter registration and the commissariat department with support from other senior leaders is moving around the country to train the party leadership on this and how to mobilise the people out there to participate.”
The directorate is responsible for crafting the elections strategy, from national identity cards acquisition, voter registration, resource mobilisation, manifesto drafting, campaign messages and programme to candidate selection and primary election rules, as well as the actual campaign programme.
The directorate, according to insiders, has a support staff of technocrats headed by Dickson Dzora, the director for administration at Zanu PF headquarters, and other members are from the military and the Office of the President and Cabinet.
According to sources, Mugabe has started consultations for the 2018 election manifesto and tasked Moyo, as head of the research sub-committee of the directorate, to carry out the exercise in consultation with personnel seconded from the military and Office of the President.
Yesterday, the party’s voter registration, mobilisation and training team led by Chombo and Kasukuwere was in Harare meeting the provincial co-ordinating committee and had among it secretary for war veterans in the politburo, Sydney Sekeramayi.
The team later drove to Mashonaland East province, where the provincial co-ordinating committee was meeting for a similar programme dubbed, “Voter Education and Mobilisation”.
Other members of the team include Obert Mpofu, the party’s secretary for finance, who is also the head of the resource mobilisation sub-committee.
Today, the team is expected to be in Masvingo and the provincial political commissar, Jeppy Jaboon, confirmed the meeting.
“We are also meeting to map the way forward on the restructuring exercise so that we prepare for the 2018 elections,” he said.
The main opposition MDC-T has, however, challenged the proclamation of the voter registration dates, arguing that Zec has no capacity to carry out the exercise because of lack of equipment.