ZANU PF has dissolved party structures in Bulawayo for the second time in less than a month on the orders of Vice-President Joseph Msika, as internal feuds threaten to split
the party ahead of next month’s election.
Angry party members told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the dissolution of party structures was being masterminded by the Zanu PF old guard opposed to former provincial chairman and war veterans national chairman Jabulani Sibanda.
Msika last week dissolved all party structures starting from cell, and then moving to branch and up to the district co-ordinating committee level at a meeting he called at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters in Bulawayo.
Just two weeks ago the Zanu PF national commissar, Elliot Manyika, dissolved the Bulawayo provincial executive committee headed by George Mlala and replaced it with a committee led by Norman Mabhena.
The new committee, composed of senior party members, has been in control of the fragmented province but its work has been hampered by factionalism.
Contacted for comment on the latest developments, Mlala refuted claims that his committee was dissolved and said the provincial executive had tendered its resignation to Manyika earlier.
“This is mere politicking,” said Mlala. “We resigned as the provincial executive en masse before Manyika announced his decision to dissolve the executive and we are saying such rash decisions by the party leadership are going to affect its performance in the forthcoming elections.”
The Bulawayo province is divided into two antagonistic factions, one loyal to disposed chairman Sibanda and the other to the Zanu PF old guard led by former Zapu intelligence supremo, Dumiso Dabengwa.
Mlala said the new people that the party leadership had imposed were generally unknown and not popular with Zanu PF supporters in the province.
“If we go into elections with this leadership in the province, then we are going to fare worse than we did in the last elections,” Mlala said.
Party sources said the structures were being dissolved to erode Sibanda’s influence since as chairman of the party in 2000 he was responsible for its restructuring.
“The old guard knows that Sibanda still commands a lot of respect in all party structures from cell to provincial level and as a way of weakening his influence, they want to remove all those people who came into office through his influence,” said a source.
Sibanda fell out of favour with senior Zanu PF members in the province after he questioned their alleged corrupt practices and was subsequently suspended from Zanu PF for four years for indiscipline.
“The old guard was embarrassed when the province refused to endorse their candidatures for the central committee, a move that forced President Mugabe to intervene and handpick some people for the central committee and later the politburo,” said the source.