ZANU PF’S young Turks group around the Generation 40 (G40) faction, which has laid siege on Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his backers, has moved to counter the threat posed by former vice-president Joice Mujuru by launching a campaign to re-admit suspended or expelled party officials at various levels.
By Herbert Moyo
Mujuru lost the party and state vice-presidency in December 2014 before being expelled alongside several heavyweights, among them former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa. Zanu PF also expelled its former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and suspended nine provincial chairpersons ahead of the party’s December congress.
President Robert Mugabe also removed several senior officials from their government positions in addition to the suspensions and expulsions. Among the affected was Mutasa, who lost his Presidential Affairs ministerial post, and former political commissar Webster Shamu, who was also the Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services minister.
Other high-profile casualties included Francis Nhema (Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment), Olivia Muchena (Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development), Dzikamai Mavhaire (Energy and Power Development), Nicholas Goche (Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare), Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs minister) and Munacho Mutezo (Energy and Power Development deputy minister).
Flora Buka (Minister of State for Presidential Affairs), Paul Chimedza (Health and Child Care deputy minister), Sylvester Nguni (Minister of State in former Vice-President Mujuru’s Office), Tongai Muzenda (Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister), Petronella Kagonye (Transport deputy minister), Fortune Chasi (Justice Deputy minister) and Tendai Savanhu (Lands and Rural Resettlement deputy minister) were also not spared the axe.
Over 140 party officials and ministers were expelled.
However, Zanu PF insiders say the G40 faction, which played a pivotal role in the wholesale expulsions, was now courting Mujuru’s former allies to strengthen its position as it purges Mnangagwa and his backers.
The Zanu PF infighting has seen Mnangagwa’s loyalists being kicked out from the party in the same way that Mujuru and her followers were purged in 2014. Those recently suspended include Christopher Mutsvangwa who was also fired from his position as War Veterans Minister for disloyalty and insulting the First Family.
His wife Monica Mutsvangwa and former Women’s League secretary for administration Esphinah Nhari were suspended for three years, while seven former youth provincial chairpersons were expelled last week. The axe is also hanging over the heads of several Mnangagwa’s allies such as his right hand man July Moyo and several members of the Midlands provincial executive.
Provincial chairpersons, Kizito Chivamba (Midlands), Ezra Chadzamira (Masvingo) and Joel Biggie Matiza (Mashonaland East) are also in the firing line.
Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that G40 was extending the olive branch to Mujuru’s allies to forestall them from coalescing into a formidable opposition with members of the Mnangagwa faction who are being thrown out of the party on an increasingly regular basis.
“The logic is that you cannot have Mujuru people reaching a consensus with Mnangagwa people who could crystallise into a powerful force in opposition to Zanu PF, hence the need to bring back as many expelled officials as possible,” said one Zanu PF official, who also pointed that only Mujuru and her closest lieutenants such as Gumbo and Mutasa will not be approached.
Another official also said Goche, Shamu and the outspoken former war veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda are some of those who are being courted with a view to re-admitting them into Zanu PF.
“Others like (legislators) Tendai Savanhu (Mbare) and Fortune Chasi (Mazowe South) have shown that they are amenable to the party’s rapprochement process and have been attending some of the First Lady (Grace Mugabe)’s rallies,” the official said.
Savanhu attended the Grace rally in Mbare last November, while Goche attended the Rushinga rally last October and Chasi the last one in Chiweshe. Grace, who is G40’s ace, took a conciliatory stance towards the trio who had been ostracised for their links to the ousted Mujuru.
Most senior officials who have been approached are reportedly happy to rejoin the party after falling on hard times following their expulsions or suspensions from Zanu PF, which resulted in the loss of government positions and sources of livelihoods.
Zanu PF is particularly wary of Mujuru as state intelligence reports have indicated that she remains a serious threat to Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF as she commands support from within state institutions and the political grassroots.
“Intelligence services have done reports on Mujuru and they show that she can’t be underestimated as she has some support in Mashonaland provinces, Manicaland and Masvingo. She could in the next 24 months before elections build a party that could erode Zanu PF’s rural support base and divide the ruling party’s traditional strongholds,” a state intelligence boss told this paper last week.