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Sibanda’s grip on Byo weakened

Loughty Dube

WAR veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda’s grip on Zanu PF’s Bulawayo province is set to end on Sunday when the ruling party holds crucial district

coordinating committee (DCC) elections, having been weakened in last weekend’s polls for grassroots structures.

Sibanda’s faction in Bulawayo suffered a major setback after it was defeated in district executive elections by another camp supported by politburo and central committee members, among them party chairman John Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

The party’s old guard has been at loggerhead with Sibanda.

Party sources said that last weekend’s elections paved the way for the elimination of Sibanda’s camp ahead of the election of the provincial executive by the DCCs.

“Sibanda is finished and his control of the province will end this week when the district executives elect the DCC, and once a DCC loyal to senior party leaders is in place the old guard will be in charge,” said a source.

Sibanda was fired from the party after he was linked to the November 2004 Tsholotsho declaration to re-arrange the Zanu PF presidium.

However, despite his expulsion Sibanda — a former Zanu PF Bulawayo chairman — continued to influence decisions in the province, shadowing an interim executive committee led by Macloud Chawe.

Party sources said the old guard, which caused the postponement of the polls on numerous occasions, masterminded the outcome of the district executive elections.

But Zanu PF Bulawayo spokesperson Effort Nkomo yesterday denied the claims.

“The elections went on smoothly where all party members took part,” Nkomo said. “There were no manoeuvres (by the old guard) as claimed. DCC elections will be held this weekend,” Nkomo said.

He, however, said a date for provincial elections was yet to be set.

Earlier this year, Zanu PF national commissar Elliot Manyika was stopped from conducting elections in the province because he wanted to allow members from Sibanda’s faction to cast votes.

In what was seen as a move to dilute Sibanda’s influence, Nkomo earlier this year fired 50 members from district structures loyal to the war veterans leader’s group after snubbing a meeting he had called to resolve differences in the province.

A restructuring team led by deputy national commissar Richard Ndlovu, Nkomo and Manyika recently concluded a restructuring and party re-organisation exercise where they recommended that districts be expanded from 23 to 53 — a move that was seen by many as creating more wards to weaken Sibanda’s grip on the province.

The party sources said people who won elections to the new district executives were loyal to a faction backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s presidential aspirations.

“The Sibanda faction is finished as all those that were elected in weekend elections are aligned to the faction supporting Mujuru,” the sources said. “What this means is that those who are in the districts will form the electoral college that will elect the DCC.”

But the old guard in the province will have to contend with Sibanda’s growing powers nationally where he is leading marches in support of President Mugabe’s bid to win the party candidacy for next year’s presidential poll.

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