OPPOSITION Zapu has pushed its elective congress to August next year, where the party will elect its substantive leader following the death of Dumiso Dabengwa in May.

Zapu had initially earmarked early next year for the holding of its elective congress, but a cash squeeze amid the ongoing harsh economic climate had reportedly forced the party to push it to August — funds permitting.

Dabengwa passed on in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 23 en route to Zimbabwe after undergoing treatment in India.

He was declared a national hero, but was buried at his family graveyard in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North province.

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Zapu acting president Isaac Mabuka made the disclosure after the party’s national people’s council on Saturday that the congress would focus on leadership renewal.

“We are going to hold our elective congress in August next year. Zapu is one party which does not have external donors. We rely solely on our individual donors. Resources are pivotal in the preparation of the congress and as such efforts are underway to raise resources for the congress,” Mabuka said, adding that he would not be contesting for any post.

“The party is, however, emphasising on leadership renewal.”

Zapu had already begun a process of retiring its old guard from leadership positions to pave way for young blood as part of a renewal and rebranding exercise following a string of election losses.

Mabuka is leading the party’s renewal and rebranding process.

Zapu’s old guard will be redeployed to the party’s council of elders — a structure which is common in several political parties in Africa and elsewhere in the world — to guide the party’s ideological and policy agenda, among others.

“We will only allow campaigning after the holding of provincial elections set for April. Our fear is that if we allow campaigning now, aspiring candidates might influence the outcome of the provincial elections so that they will have an unfair advantage at the congress,” Mabuka said.

Several people, including the party’s incumbent secretary-general Strike Mkandla, treasurer-general Mark Mbaiwa and spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa, are reportedly eyeing Dabengwa’s post.

The party’s losing candidate in the recently held Mangwe parliamentary by-election, Mathew Sibanda, is also reportedly interested in taking over from Dabengwa.