Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party provincial chairpersons aligned to the country’s Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who romped to victory in the highly contentious party elections in November, are facing stiff resistance from their executives and provincial co-ordinating committees (PCCs), whose majority in some provinces are said to be loyal to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
By Elias Mambo
Zanu PF continues to grapple with factionalism which threatened to tear it apart during the provincial elections, as factions battled to take control of the provinces in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The factional fissures widened following the controversial victory of chairpersons aligned to Mujuru in nine of the 10 provinces, amid allegations of rigging, intimidation, ballot stuffing, use of an out-dated voters’ roll, disenfranchisement of voters and abuse of party resources.
Party insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent this week the chairpersons in Masvingo, Midlands and Mashonaland Central are finding the going tough as most of the members who constitute the PCCs are said to be loyal to the Mnangagwa faction.
“In the Midlands province, 90% of the PCC members are loyal to Mnangagwa and the only prominent odd one out is the chairperson (Jason Machaya); so they are giving him hell to such an extent that he is failing to convene meetings,” said the source.
“Machaya’s victory has not been a bed of roses and he has told some of his friends that he might be considering resigning claiming the province is unmanageable.”
Machaya controversially won the elections, beating Larry Mavima, a former Zvishavane-Runde legislator and Mnangagwa loyalist, amid allegations of vote-buying and rigging. Mavima unsuccessfully petitioned the politburo to order a rerun of the elections.
In Masvingo, the PCC has rejected the provincial executive appointed by new chairperson, Chiredzi South legislator retired Major-General Callisto Gwanetsa, saying elections should be held to fill the posts.
“Gwanetsa won the election controversially, but he has no support of the grassroots. He is divorced from the people and they have vowed no PCC meeting will take place unless the fraudulent appointments he made in selecting members of his new executive is resolved by a proper election,” said a top Masvingo Zanu PF official.
Masvingo has always been a hotbed of factionalism in the party and it was the first province to be divided on factional lines, when in the 1990s factions in the province were led by the late vice-president Simon Muzenda and Edison Zvobgo.
Violence and riots over internal Zanu PF processes are a common feature in Masvingo. Armed anti-riot police had to be called in to quell violent clashes between fighting Zanu PF factions after the controversial provincial elections.
In 2012, police in Masvingo had to deploy the anti-riot squad to every Zanu PF meeting held in the town to keep warring factions from coming to blows after violence broke out in the now-disbanded district co-ordinating committee (DCC) elections won by Mnangagwa loyalists.
Mashonaland Central, a stronghold of the Mujuru faction, is making life difficult for the newly elected provincial chairperson Luke Mushore, whose executive is comprised of people aligned to Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who is now a close ally of Mnangagwa.
This is in protest after six districts did not participate in the provincial elections although the leadership in Harare went on to announce election results. Losing candidate for Mashonaland Central who is former provincial chairperson, Dickson Mafios, rejected the election results citing vote rigging and disenfranchisement of voters.
However, the politburo, as with the case in Manicaland and the Midlands, went on to endorse the election results.
“The Mashonaland Central districts are telling Mushore that he is the chairperson of the politburo and not the people because it is the party’s highest decision-making body that endorsed him,” said a Mashonaland Central top official.
“We don’t recognise him as our chairperson. They cheated Mafios. His problem is that he is outnumbered in the provincial executive. There are only two people in Mujuru’s faction in the provincial executive.”
In Manicaland, top party officials said although there is still tension in the province after the provincial elections, the new chairperson Ambassador John Mvundura, who had been linked to the Mujuru faction, seems to be making decisions which are not based on factional politics.
“Because Mvundura was senior to provincial gurus in Manicaland (Didymus) Mutasa (aligned to Mujuru) and (Oppah) Muchinguri (a Mnangagwa close ally) during the liberation struggle, he commands a lot of respect and can easily push his weight around giving him control of the province,” said a top Manicaland party official.
“Mvundura does his own thing — he is not easily influenced. His decisions are not based on factional politics.”
Manicaland senator Monica Mutsvangwa withdrew from the provincial elections citing a litany of irregularities and rigging.
“However, there is still tension because there are some disenfranchised voters who are now voicing their concerns,” the source also said.
However, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the party has not received any complaints from the provincial chairpersons.
“No chairperson has reported that they are having problems with their PCCs except in Midlands where we gathered that some people wanted to be smuggled into the executive without elections. We are resolving that issue,” Gumbo said.'