Mugabe Purges Opponents In Party

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has dropped provincial governors perceived as sympathetic to Vice-president Joice Mujuru’s bid for the presidential post before Zanu PF’s extraordinary congress last year.

 

The purge, sources in Zanu PF and government said, would extend to the appointment of a new cabinet by Mugabe.

Mugabe this week dropped four governors who allegedly were part of a faction in Zanu PF that backed Mujuru to succeed the 84-year-old leader.

The four are Ray Kaukonde (Mashonaland East), Tinaye Chigudu (Manicaland), Willard Chiwewe (Masvingo), and Ephraim Masawi (Mashonaland Central).

Former Education minister Aenias Chigwedere, ex-Transport minister Chris Mushohwe, Titus Maluleke and Advocate Martin Dinha replaced the four.

Mugabe also dropped two other governors, Cephas Msipa (Midlands) and Nelson Samkange (Mashonaland West).

Mugabe at the party’s Goromonzi conference in December 2006 publicly reprimanded Kaukonde, who was also Zanu PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland East, for openly supporting Mujuru.

His province and Harare refused during the conference to endorse a proposal to extend Mugabe’s rule to 2010 when the country’s first harmonised elections were initially planned for by Zanu PF hardliners.

By then Mugabe was yet to be endorsed and confirmed by the party as its presidential candidate in this year’s harmonised elections and this necessitated the convening of an extraordinary congress in December.

Mugabe allegedly manipulated the congress to endorse his candidature.

“Kaukonde was seen as behind the Mujuru faction and Mugabe was bitter,” a source in Zanu PF said. “He decided to replace him with Chigwedere whose loyalty to Mugabe is unquestionable.”

The sources said Chigudu, Chiwewe and Masawi were also perceived to be behind Mujuru’s bid for the presidency and mobilised her support in their respective provinces.

“There are more people who will be dumped from the current cabinet and from party structures,” the source added.

Zanu PF has since ordered the restructuring of its organs after it performed dismally in the March 29 elections.

The restructuring was sanctioned during a central committee meeting last month where a reportedly irate Mugabe quizzed the party’s leadership on why Zanu PF lost the elections to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The party sources said the exercise was expected to usher in new leaders from cell up to provincial levels.

“The plan now is to have a restructuring exercise that will ensure that people who are deemed failures will not be elected as leaders ahead of the party’s conference in Bindura in December,” said one of the sources.

In an interview yesterday, Zanu PF national commissar Elliot Manyika said the restructuring exercise was being conducted in line with the party’s constitution.

Manyika said: “The (restructuring) process is being held after the realisation that the terms of office for the old executives have come to an end. We are preparing for the conference in December and we want to go to the conference with new executives in place.

“Of course, we have said the leaders should go to the people to seek new mandates and if they (the executives) fail to rise to the occasion and let down the people, surely they will not be voted back.”

By Nkululeko Sibanda