THE ruling Zanu PF’s leadership nomination process ahead of next week’s congress has run its dramatic course and produced an outcome which has changed the plot of President Robert
Mugabe’s heated succession race.
The selection of Mugabe, Joseph Msika, Joyce Mujuru and John Nkomo to occupy the party’s top four elected positions came against a background of vicious wrangling among the party’s political gladiators grouped in two camps.
Zanu PF insiders say the groups, one led by the party secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other by politburo big shot, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, were locked in a power struggle to secure nomination of their candidates.
The political combat was characterised by behind-the-scenes manoeuvres, backbiting and sometimes open bickering. The sources say the infighting manifested itself in the form of tussles over land, clashes in the media, at meetings and in parliament.
The squabbling left Zanu PF deeply divided into warring political factions. Although membership of the camps overlapped, there were movers and shakers on both sides.
Mnangagwa’s group — coalesced around the so-called South-South Coalition which encompassed Midlands, Matabeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland — included Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa, information and publicity deputy secretary Jonathan Moyo, and senior party members such as July Moyo and Shuvai Mahofa.
Insiders say the camp’s masterplan had an ethnic arrangement from the current Zanu PF Unity Accord structure. It placed Mugabe on top to represent Zezurus, Women’s League chairperson Thenjiwe Lesabe to represent Ndebeles, Mnangagwa Karangas and Chinamasa Manyikas. Lesabe was understood to have been dragged in.
Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe, Agriculture minister Joseph Made, Transport minister Chris Mushowe and his deputy Andrew Langa, Foreign Affairs deputy minister Abednico Ncube and Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office Flora Bhuka were part of this camp.
Zanu PF MPs Jorum Gumbo, Pearson Mbalekwa and Kindness Paradza, among many others, were also in the group. War veterans chairman Jabulani Sibanda, his deputy Joseph Chinotimba, and Bulawayo war veterans chairman Themba Ncube were included.
Former Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Ruth Labode, who is close to Jonathan Moyo, was also linked to the group. The camp managed to draw into its fold six Zanu PF provincial executive council chairmen: Themba Ncube (Bulawayo), Jacob Mudenda (Matabeleland North), Mike Madiro (Manicaland), Lloyd Siyoka (Matabeleland South) and Daniel Shumba (Masvingo).
However, Mudenda’s and Madiro’s provinces defected to the Mujuru camp at the eleventh hour to deliver the final blow against Mnangagwa who eventually lost to Joyce Mujuru in the race for the vice-president’s post left vacant after the death of Simon Muzenda last year.
General Mujuru’s grouping comprised a number of political heavyweights such as Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, politburo bigwigs Dumiso Dabengwa and Josiah Tungamirai, State Security minister Nicholas Goche, party commissar Elliot Manyika and nearly all other provincial governors.
It also had sympathisers in the form of Msika, Nkomo, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Zanu PF deputy national commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and virtually all other former PF Zapu stalwarts. Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira was also seen as generally associated with it.
The group commanded the support of Zanu PF chairmen in Mashonaland East (Ray Kaukonde), Mashonaland Central (Chen Chimutengwende), Mashonaland West (Philip Chiyangwa) and Harare (Amos Midzi) although Chiyangwa was seen as a Mnangagwa backer.
Mugabe remained neutral and above the fray as the cliques wrestled for power. His intervention only came after the politburo decided last Thursday at an emergency meeting that one of the two vice-presidents would have to be a woman.
He only intervened decisively on the side of women who supported Joyce Mujuru a day before the nominations. Mugabe took a firm stand this week in a bid to suppress rising dissent and factionalism stemming from the process.
In a thinly-veiled attack on senior party officials, Mugabe threatened to deal with sulking top members involved in acts of destabilisation.
He said he would deal with “divisive elements” in the upper ranks of his deeply split party. He also said he would crackdown on “greedy” officials, “crooks” and “cunning knaves” bribing voters and those who wanted to “grab bread from other people’s mouths”.
Both camps used a variety of means, including “donations” and alignment with the media, to win votes.
Donations in cash and kind seem to have angered Mugabe this week who accused his officials of using money, including some sourced from “white imperialists” with British connections, to bribe voters.
Mnangagwa’s camp last Thursday descended on Dinyane Secondary School in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North, for a prize-giving ceremony, which sources said was a strategic meeting. Mnangagwa was supposed to be the guest of honour. Moyo was also supposed to attend.
However, Mnangagwa and Moyo failed to attend due to the emergency politburo meeting in Harare. Chinamasa was despatched to officiate. He urged people in Tsholotsho to vote for Moyo in the forthcoming Zanu PF primary elections.
Six Zanu PF chairmen, ministers, deputy ministers, MPs, a governor, war veterans and party functionaries attended the ceremony where there was a cascade of donations.
Mnangagwa led by example when he donated, in absentia, $10 million to buy computers for the computer laboratory, Langa donated $5 million, Shumba gave two computers to the school, while Abedinigo Ncube and Hungwe donated 100 bags of cement each for the construction of a classroom block.
Labode donated shelving material and Bulawayo businessman Delma Lupepe donated $5 million. Mudenda donated a water pump and Bhuka a television set. Some made pledges.
Mnangagwa’s camp two weeks ago organised a similar prize-giving ceremony at Ntalale Secondary School in Gwanda where Siyoka declared his executive would not support Mujuru. He got suspended for it after members of the Mujuru camp in the province reacted angrily.
That reaction, coupled with a botched interview with a local weekly which angered a lot of people, apparently triggered a chain of events which led to Mnangagwa’s downfall.