Former Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono’s spirited bid to land the vacant senatorial seat in Manicaland is now a closed chapter after the Zanu-PF Politburo yesterday upheld the position of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that legally the aspiring senator was not qualified for the post because he is not a registered voter in the province. The party maintained that the law could not be tailored to suit the circumstances of an individual.
Dr Gono had pinned his hopes on the Politburo after ZEC wrote to Zanu-PF on September 15 indicating that although Dr Gono had been nominated for the post by the party, he did not meet the legal criteria required by the new Constitution.
Speaking in an interview after the Politburo meeting yesterday, Zanu-PF secretary for Legal Affairs Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa said the Politburo agreed that ZEC’s decision was final.
“There is no issue,” he said. “ZEC has made its decision and we as the party are not contesting that decision.” ZEC
chairperson Justice Rita Makarau indicated that the purported transfer of Dr Gono to Manicaland as a voter done by the Registrar General’s Office on December 5 last year was unlawful since in terms of the new Constitution such powers were no longer vested in the RG’s office by the time of the purported registration. Dr Gono had been earmarked to succeed Cde Kumbirai Kangai who died in August last year.
However, addressing journalists after the Politburo meeting, Zanu-PF’s Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Rugare Gumbo sought to misrepresent the party position saying that Dr Gono’s bid could still be salvaged.
Cde Gumbo said the Politburo had directed the party’s legal department to look into the case with a view to finding out how Dr Gono could be accommodated.
“We did discuss about the issue of Cde Gono,” Cde Gumbo said. “The decision of the party was made clear that for the time being we go along with what the chairperson of Zec Justice Rita Makarau said, but we will also look at other avenues of finding a way of ensuring that perhaps he can be nominated to that position.”
Asked to clarify his statement, Cde Gumbo re-affirmed Zec’s position saying: “We go along with what the chairperson of Zec said, but the legal committee has been directed to look into other ways of finding a way forward.”
But Cde Mnangagwa, the party’s secretary for legal affairs, differed saying the Gono issue was a closed chapter. This was confirmed by several other members of the politburo who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak for the party. Dr Gono was nominated by Zanu-PF Manicaland province to replace Cde Kangai who was declared a national hero and his nomination was endorsed by the Politburo.
But Justice Makarau said Dr Gono was not registered in any ward in the province in a letter to Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo.
This, Justice Makarau pointed out, was notwithstanding a certificate of registration of a voter serial number 454601K, issued at Makombe Building on December 5 last year, transferring Dr Gono to Manicaland.
“Now that the function to register and transfer voters is vested in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the most practical way around the current difficulty would have been for Dr Gono to apply to the commission to transfer his vote from Harare to Buhera West,” she said.“Again, Honourable chairman, we regret to advise that whilst we now have the constitutional mandate to register and transfer voters, and are willing and ready to register and transfer voters, there is no legal framework on voter registration and allied matters as envisaged in Section 157 (1) of the Constitution, a vacuum that has made us hold back on voter registration, thereby prejudicing not only Dr Gono in this case, but the generality of the electorate in Zimbabwe.” Dr Gono then alleged that individuals pursuing factionalism in Zanu-PF had played a role in denying him an opportunity to ascend to the senatorial seat.
He also said he belonged only to a ‘’faction’’ led by President Mugabe in Zanu-PF. His allegations were dismissed by the Government which indicated that Dr Gono did not meet the criteria for voter registration purely and only on legal grounds and that his disqualification by Zec had nothing to do with alleged factionalism. Dr Gono was also criticised for claiming that President Mugabe leads a faction in Zanu-PF, when it is common knowledge that he leads the government and nation without segregating against anyone on factional or any other lines.