Editorial Comment: Zanu-PF can draw lessons from primary polls

Zanu-PF primary elections held yesterday have drawn some vital lessons for the country, at the same time exposing a number of areas that the ruling party needs to pay attention to in such future contests.

We agree that there were logistical challenges that affected the holding of the primaries, but these could not dampen the ability of the party in enhancing internal party democracy.

One of the important lessons to draw from the primaries is that internal party contests can be successfully held without resorting to violence.

That the primaries were violent-free despite the intense contests in almost all the constituencies goes a long way to demonstrate the maturity of Zanu-PF supporters.

The party supporters and prospective candidates have heeded the call by President Mnangagwa for a peaceful electoral period.

If the party comes across anyone who attempted to cause violence during the primaries, that person should be disqualified. It should not matter if the perpetrator of the violence would have won the primaries, they should be disqualified to serve as a lesson to others of such intentions.

But reports from our correspondents around the country show that there were no incidences of violence to talk about.

What prevailed in some few cases was an exchange of harsh words between or among the candidates, but this did not lead to incidents of major confrontation. Such incidents like heated exchanges as candidates haggle over procedures is common and expected in such tight contests.

We commend the candidates and the party supporters for maintaining their cool and being true to the gospel of peace being preached from the highest office in the land.

Of course, holding such a huge primary election, which drew thousands of contestants, was always bound to present a number of headaches for the ruling party.

What is critical is how the party managed to handle the situation without discrediting the whole process.

We note that one of the major problems which affected the primaries yesterday was the late arrival of ballot papers at polling stations.

This, of course, is a situation the party can avoid in future by working on the logistics well before the election date.

There was need to ensure that the ballot papers were printed on time and that transport was ready before yesterday. That way, voters could have been assured of casting their votes on time.

We note that this problem did not affect as many constituencies to warrant it being declared an electoral disaster.

In the affected constituencies, the voting will resume this morning, a progressive decision by the party, as this will allow party members the right to decide on the candidate of their choice.

So, we expect that by the end of today, or at the latest by tomorrow morning, Zanu-PF will be releasing a full list of its candidates for the harmonised elections due soon.

Obviously, those who lost the primaries will not be happy that they failed to be considered, but they should not turn their unhappiness into bitterness against the party.

Whatever their grievances, genuine or not, we urge them to bury the hatchet and support the winners for the good of the party.

There is always a second chance, and the losers should not spoil things as they would need the party in the next elections.

It is time for unity and togetherness as Zanu-PF pushes ahead in anticipation of victory in the harmonised elections.

We are encouraged that some candidates, sensing that they were losing even before the voting ended, were already congratulating their opponents and pledging their support.

That is the spirit, as Zanu-PF is not about individuals — no need to align with certain characters, but with the party.