SENIOR Zanu PF officials on Monday called for a probe, and possible expulsion from the party, of politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa (pictured) on allegations that he harboured presidential ambitions and that he had links to Simba Makoni who is challenging President Mugabe in next monthâ€™s elections.
Party sources said Dabengwa, who was absent from the poorly-attended politburo meeting hastily arranged on Monday, was “skinned alive” by colleagues mainly from the faction aligned to Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Calls to expel Dabengwa come amid reports that the former Zipra commander was being pushed by former Zanla and Zipra cadres to contest the presidential election to fulfill what they termed an “unwritten clause” of the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF-Zapu.
According to the unwritten agreement, senior Zanu PF officials said Mugabeâ€™s successor should come from the former PF-Zapu.
“Dabengwa wanted to fulfill the unwritten agreement and had the backing of both former Zanla and Zipra members,” one of the sources said. “It is former Zanla forces this time around who were pushing hard for Dabengwa to challenge Mugabe.”
Apart from Dabengwaâ€™s presidential ambitions, the Mnangagwa camp wants the former Home Affairs minister expelled for questioning how Mnangagwa allegedly manipulated the politburo to convene an extraordinary congress in December to endorse and confirm Mugabe as the partyâ€™s presidential candidate.
A source who attended the meeting said the anger against Dabengwa also stemmed from an article published in the Zimbabwe Independent two weeks that he wanted to run in the presidential race. Dabengwaâ€™s opponents also alleged that the veteran politician, by not showing interest in running for House of Assembly and senatorial posts, he had “something up his sleeve”.
he sources however said the calls were generally ignored by the presidium which was more interested in discussing the Makoni issue and outstanding primary elections.
The politburo source said the attack on Dabengwa was an act of mischief as he had not made any statement regarding his presidential ambitions or support for Makoni.
This comes amid reports of other Zanu PF politburo members in Matabeleland, among them Vice-President Joseph Msika and chairman John Nkomo, not attending party meetings in the province because they are backing Makoni.
Sources in the party this week alleged that the politburo members were also not involved in the recent Zanu PF primary elections to select candidates for the House of Assembly, senate and council elections.
The sources said Msika last weekend was expected in Bulawayo to drum up support for the candidates, but he did not pitch up.
Msika, Nkomo and Dabengwa, the sources said, have not attended Zanu PF functions in the province since the partyâ€™s extraordinary congress in December when the former PF Zapu leaders were irked by war veterans leader Jabulani Sibandaâ€™s attempt to address the indaba.
“In the past, Dabengwa, Nkomo and Msika have visited Matabeleland North and Bulawayo every weekend to address party meetings, but since the congress last year they have been nowhere near party activities in the provinces,” one of the sources said.
Dabengwa, Msika and Nkomo do not recognise Sibanda as a party member after his expulsion in December 2004 for being part to the infamous Tsholotsho Declaration. The plan was meant to end the political career of Msika and Nkomo, and also to block the ascendancy of Vice-President Joice Mujuru into the presidium.
The sources said Information and Publicity minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was the only senior party leader who has been holding meetings and addressing party structures since the beginning of the year. Ndlovu is a member of the politburo and is eyeing the Mpopoma House of Assembly seat.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Msika, Nkomo and Dabengwa were fruitless yesterday.