THE Zanu PF factional firestorm has continued raging, with officials blatantly defying last week’s injunction by the politburo — its highest decision-making organ between congresses — as they continue jostling for leadership positions throughout the country, it has emerged.
The ruling party’s acting national political commissar, Patrick Chinamasa, revealed in the immediate aftermath of the politburo meeting on Saturday last week that the organ had decided to strongly warn party members against engaging in divisive campaigns for positions before being authorised do so.
Zanu PF is currently in the middle of a massive root-and-branch shake-up which will see its entire structures, right from the cell to the central committee, being reconfigured in elections set for next month.
Despite the fact that the party has not yet opened up campaigning, its officials are already engaging in a vicious scramble for positions.
And as is characteristic of such events, the fights have assumed the usual factional dimensions as bigwigs seek to line up surrogates for key positions.
The party’s leadership however insists campaigning has not been opened up yet and those who would dare defy the ban, Chinamasa said, will be punished with disqualification when the process begins.
But even so, brutal campaigns have continued across the country, with bigwigs now burning the midnight oil as they try to line their ducks in a row, even in Mnangagwa’s home province, the Midlands, where some of his closest allies are at each other’s throats.
Sources in the Midlands said Local Government minister July Moyo is fronting one camp diametrically opposed to the other led by Joram Gumbo. The two, sources said, are long-term sworn adversaries and are currently fighting for the honours of being the most senior party member in the geographically vast province.
Moyo, who considers himself the provincial political godfather, stoked the factional fires two weeks ago when he reportedly convened a meeting of his proxies at his farm near Kwekwe.
He is believed to be campaigning heavily for State Security minister Owen Mudha Ncube in his quest to become the provincial chairman. Former deputy secretary for youth affairs Edson Chakanyuka, popularly known in the party as Chiherenge, is campaigning for the vice-chairperson’s post.
On the other hand, Gumbo is reportedly rooting for the incumbent, Daniel Mackenzie Ncube.
“Trouble is brewing in the President’s province,” a source privy to the goings-on said.
“About two weeks ago, the July Moyo camp met at his farm overnight and came up with a list of those who will contest for leadership positions. Mudha is gunning for the chairmanship and Chiherenge is aiming to deputise him. They are campaigning heavily, even after the politburo warned against that,” the source, a central committee member, said.
“It happens all the time, people are bound to disobey these rules. The private meeting they had at July’s farm has caused a lot of discomfort in the province and the rival camp is now fighting back,” the official added.
Sources in Mashonaland West said Mary Mliswa-Chikoka is virtually a shoo-in, as she now commands huge support in most districts, but must still contend with acting chairperson Abia Mujere, who is reportedly being supported by the two politburo bigwigs, Chris Mutsvangwa and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
Mutsvangwa and Ziyambi are believed to have formed a special pact to fight Mliswa-Chikoka, whom they accuse of riding on the popularity of his brother, Temba Mliswa, who has previously chaired the province.
Mutsvangwa has an axe to grind with Mliswa, who trounced him in the Norton legislative poll in 2018.
A senior Zanu PF official from the province said: “Mary controls about 80% of the province now. She virtually has Hurungwe, where her brother is immensely popular, in her hands. She also controls Kariba, Kadoma and Makonde districts, which have the potential to decide the election. She only has to work a little harder in Chegutu, Mhondoro and Zvimba, but as it stands, she is odds-on favourite to land the chair,” the source said.
Constance Shamu, wife of former Zanu PF national political commissar Webster Shamu, has also formed a pact with Mliswa-Chikoka in her quest to bounce back as provincial women’s league chair, and 29-year-old Tatenda Gwinji who is eyeing the provincial youth league chairmanship.
Gwinji is the current chairperson of Chegutu district.
“It looks like a very formidable crew and can only lose because of a major upset,” a party official from the province said.
The ructions appear to be worse in Mashonaland Central province where two distinct camps scrambling for key positions have emerged amid reports that two cabinet ministers belonging to one camp are moving around threatening party members with unspecified action if they dare vote for the opposing group.
Energy and Power Development minister Zhemu Soda, who is also district coordinating committee chairperson for Muzarabani district, is leading the campaign on behalf of Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe.
Kazembe is seeking re-election as provincial chair.
Soda has been accused of recruiting gangs that move around the province threatening supporters of Kazembe’s main rival, Lazarus Dokora — who is seeking to rebound in the party following years of relative obscurity and has emerged as a clear frontrunner.
The other competitor is businessman James Makamba. Soda’s alleged gangs have also reportedly been blocking the campaign teams of women’s league provincial chairperson, Tsitsi Gezi, who is seeking re-election.
Interestingly, Gezi is the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, in which capacity she is Soda’s superior on the legislative front.
Highly-placed Zanu PF officials in the province said the campaign has become so deadly it has now divided the volatile province along tribal lines, with the Dokora camp now reportedly labeling the Kazembe camp as riddled with foreigners.
“The issue here is that Soda is originally from Mozambique and Kazembe is not originally from this province. So basically, there is a pack between the Zezurus and Korekores against a group now being referred to as aliens. They say it is our time to rule the province now given that they have been sidelined for too long. So, they are now fronting Dokora, who has become a clear favourite to win the chairmanship,” a source said.
“Soda has been running the show on behalf of Kazembe and he has literally blocked campaigns from Gezi in his district and is trying to spread that to the other districts,” the source said.
Another source said Kazembe has become seriously vulnerable following the death in January of Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, who was his pillar of strength while Dokora enjoys the support of wealthy businessman and politburo member Kenneth Musanhu. Another influential party member and businessman, Tafadzwa Musarara, has also withdrawn his candidature and is now rooting for Dokora.
“The problems may for now be more pronounced in these provinces and to an extent in Manicaland and Matabeleland North, but these things are happening everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before things explode,” a Zanu PF politburo member said.