Energy minister Zhemu Soda allegedly dished out grocery hampers to Zanu-PF women structures in Muzarabani at the weekend in what some party members from the province allege was vote buying for his ally, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe who wants to retain the party provincial chairmanship.
Kazembe is reportedly facing competition in elections expected soon where he will be challenged by former Education minister Lazarus Dokora, businessman James Makamba and former MP Christopher Chitindi, among others.
Soda on Saturday allegedly dished out food hampers to branch chairpersons and traditional leaders at Muzarabani Hall.
“The hampers had cooking oil, sugar, two coffee mugs and salt. This is vote buying ahead of the provincial elections,” a Zanu-PF member, who declined to be named, said.
“Soda was supported by Kazembe during his campaign to be DCC (district development committee) chairperson for Muzarabani. Kazembe used his influence as the provincial chairperson to mobilise support for Soda, who is now paying back by supporting the provincial chairman to retain his position. What the ministers ae doing is tantamount to vote buying.”
Soda is alleged to be trying to block the deputy speaker of Parliament Tsitsi Gezi from retaining her position as provincial chairlady in Muzarabani because she is believed to be a Dokora ally.
Soda said: “That is not true. Hampers were given at a women’s league meeting which was addressed by Mai Gezi on Saturday.”
Gezi confirmed the meeting which she said was for women’s league members, from politburo to the grassroots, where they were launching a goat rearing project.
“They were bought by Hon Soda,” she said. “They food hampers were distributed to all the district women’s league structures.”
Asked to comment on allegations of vote buying, she said: “I don’t know the reason why Hon Soda bought the hampers, so I cannot comment on that.”
On allegations that she was being blocked by Soda from retaining her position, she said: “I was there as the women’s league provincial chair.”
There has been a lot of jostling in the province for the chairmanship, with party supporters split in support for Kazembe, Dokora and Makamba. Kazembe has been accused of victimising members who do not support him.