ZAPU has once again postponed its elective congress, which had been set for April 30 this year citing Covid-19 regulations that still restrict public gatherings to 50 people.
The party says it expects 1 000 people to attend so the limitation of 50 people is a challenge to work with and cannot hold the congress virtually as most of its members are based in rural areas where internet connectivity is a challenge.
The party’s National Peoples Council (NPC), the party’s highest decision-making body in between congresses met on Saturday and resolved to have the congress pushed to August.
In an interview with CITE after the meeting, ZAPU president Isaac Mabuka confirmed that stringent Covid-19 regulations made it difficult for the party to conduct meetings.
Mabuka said the party needed to finish conducting its provincial councils, which are yet to elect their candidates although some of the districts had completed the process.
“The latest we have set is August 31 but it can be held earlier. But if Covid-19 comes in full force, there will be no other alternative. The real truth is we don’t want to postpone anymore that is the feeling,” he said.
The party president noted they had considered having a virtual congress but that would be a challenge because most of their members were based in rural areas.
“Unfortunately politics is not like business that can be done online. Our members are mostly rural and imagine hassles of putting people like your grandfather in virtual space sometimes it becomes difficult unless someone has a gadget and brings them together. But this is a congress and we are looking at 1000 people,” Mabuka said.
“Some places have no network and it becomes very unfair. We did consider it but maybe as a last resort we may go for it but it will not bring exactly what people want or the leadership they need. Choosing leaders is different from a conference because people want to be hands on.”
ZAPU’s Treasurer- General Mark Mubayiwa ruled out that financial challenges had forced them to postpone the congress.
“Fundraising is on, you will reckon this is not first congress done by ZAPU. We want to agree that as we speak in the country there are so many economic problems taking place and ZAPU is not excluded from these problems. But we are a political party that looks for funding within its own peoples. We don’t have big conglomerates giving us the money but I can tell you everything is in order,” he said.
ZAPU Secretary General, Dr Strike Mkandla added that although the revolutionary party did not have huge financial resources, it relied on members, supporters and sympathisers.
“For example in that last congress in 2016, our biggest headache was how to source food for delegates yet by end of the congress we had two full beasts that were donated without us even paying a cent. We also had half a beast from Midlands and another half beast from the late president , Dr Dumiso Dabengwa’s farm, meaning by end of that congress we almost had four beasts,” he said.
“As for rice and other things, these were donated by members and those in rural areas even had to grind maize in order to bring us mealie meal. So ZAPU is a very versatile party and when we reach crunch time we achieve our goal.”