THE Zanu PF succession race has taken its roadshow to Masvingo where a recent visit by the national political commissar, Elliot Manyika, seems to have fanned political rivalry in the province.
When Zanu PF thought it had finally smothered the
scourge of divisions in its ranks in Masvingo, the Tsholotsho contagion has spread to revive lingering factionalism, party insiders say.
They say the divisions have been stoked by fears that central committee members elected under the deposed executive might find themselves with no political ground to fall back on when an audit of party membership and structures has been completed.
A provincial executive led by Daniel Shumba, that has since been dissolved by Manyika, included central committee members — Josaya Hungwe, Stan Mudenge and Tinos Rusere — who had become front-runners of a faction seeking control of the fractious province.
Shumba, who had a brief stint with the United People’s Movement, parted ways with the fledgling opposition party to form his own United People’s Party (UPP).
His plans to launch the party in Masvingo has unsettled Zanu PF in an area it has always taken as its preserve.
But the decision to oust Shumba’s provincial executive has left the province, known for its age-old divisions — open to internecine fights for supremacy under a new political configuration brought about by the dissolution of the executive.
Shumba was suspended along with five other provincial chairmen for taking part in the Tsholotsho meeting that sought to scuttle Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s ascendancy to the presidium.
The new interim executive led by Samuel Mumbengegwi has started auditing party structures established under Shumba’s tenure and has unearthed serious anomalies that exaggerated
party support in the volatile province.
Party insiders say the members tainted by the Tsholotsho debacle feel enfeebled by lack of grassroots support now that the audit exercise has exposed a scheme put in place to overstate party support and enhance Masvingo’s role in the outcome of President Robert Mugabe’s succession race.
“Central committee members are panicking. They see themselves without grassroots support when the audit is complete,” said a source familiar with the political manoeuvring.
The source said central committee members, struggling to erase the Tsholotsho smudge on their political careers, had solicited Manyika’s intervention, hoping
to reverse the outcome of the audit.
“There are set rules in terms of the composition of party structures from the lower levels up to the provincial executive. There cannot be a district without the stipulated number of branches to justify such a structure,” a source said.
“But what has been the case is that more districts than the provincial population could justify were established and this is what the audit seeks to remedy,” said a provincial member who declined to be named.
The provincial executive said central committee members feared the current audit would unmask their political stratagem that had been fashioned to bolster Emmerson Mnangagwa’s chances in the succession race.
Central committee members view the audit as a purge to rid party structures of members aligned to them while the party fears Shumba might use the structures as a springboard to launch his UPP if existing structures are left untouched.
Provincial political commissar, Dzikamayi Mavhaire, declined to comment further than saying: “All is well in the province. The audit is going on smoothly.”