IN a mould-breaking development, it became evident this week that a split was looming in Zanu PF with former Finance minister Simba Makoni likely t
o square up against President Robert Mugabe in polls scheduled for March.
Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that the splinter Zanu PF faction to be headed by Makoni was expected to roll out its election programme next week and reveal the name it would use for the polls.
Former permanent secretary and academic Ibbo Mandaza, war veteran Alfred Mhanda (Dzinashe Machingura), and retired army major Kudzai Mbudzi were reportedly coordinating the Makoni project.
Mandaza is understood to be the convenor. Mbudzi was suspended from the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial executive last month for deriding war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda’s involvement in marches to rally support for Mugabe.
The sources said the Makoni faction was still debating whether or not to contest the polls under the name Zanu PF or to use Patriotic Front.
“Advertisements in national newspapers will be flighted as from next week outlining the splinter group’s programme,” one of the sources said. “The Makoni camp wants to recapture the presidency of Zanu PF that was stolen by Mugabe through manipulation of the party’s formal structures to endorse him as the candidate at the extraordinary congress last December,” he said.
The Makoni faction, the sources said, had ruled out an alliance with the MDC, preferring to continue pursuing Zanu PF’s ideological line under a new leadership.
“Makoni and some disgruntled senior Zanu PF officials are saying that they are for the ruling party ideology,” another source close to the faction said. “What they want is someone new to steer the ideology and to them it’s Makoni.”
The faction, the source added, wanted to mobilise Zanu PF provincial executives to declare Makoni their presidential candidate after they accused Mugabe of “monopolising and manipulating” party structures to cling onto power.
“Those pushing for Makoni have decided to operate outside party structures to become an equivalent of the parallel market and have the provinces declare Makoni as the real candidate of their Zanu PF,” another source said.
The source said the camp backing Makoni was confident that it would win the elections and thereafter form an alliance with the opposition and have a government of national unity.
The sources said it was because of the realisation in Zanu PF that the faction would pursue its ideology and probably use the same name that confusion has arisen over how to handle the split.
“There is confusion in Zanu PF and government,” a senior ruling party member said. “The split in the party has extended to the civil service and the CIO. Some senior CIO operatives have been linked to the Makoni project.”
The sources said a major onslaught led by war veterans on the Makoni camp was expected before the harmonised presidential, legislative and council elections.
Mugabe roped in war veterans last year to drum up support to secure the party’s presidential candidacy amid reports that a faction in Zanu PF headed by retired army general Solomon Mujuru wanted the president to retire.
Apart from refusing to forge an alliance with the MDC, the sources said, the Makoni faction also reportedly refused to buy into Tsholotsho legislator Jonathan Moyo’s project for a grand alliance to confront Zanu PF at the polls.
The sources said Moyo tried to tag along with the Makoni group to form an alliance made up of people from Zanu PF, the MDC and civil society, but was reportedly told to keep his distance.
Moyo’s alliance also wanted Makoni to be president of the united front ahead of Morgan Tsvangirai on the basis that the former Finance minister has an appeal across the political divide and was internationally accepted.
The former Information minister’s plan was reportedly being backed by prominent Zimbabwean businesspeople in the country and abroad.
“At a recent meeting, Moyo was told to keep away from the Makoni project because the group was not interested in the broad alliance,” another source said.
Repeated efforts to get comment from Moyo were in vain at the time of going to press. However, the sources said the MDC camp led by Arthur Mutambara had recently endorsed Makoni’s candidacy.