THE Zanu PF politburo on Wednesday tasked national chairman John Nkomo to meet disgruntled former PF Zapu leaders today in Bulawayo to find ways of addressing their concerns.
Sources in Zanu PF said the politburo made the decision after the ex-PF Zapu leaders at the weekend declared the unity accord with Zanu PF dead and vowed to revive the late Joshua Nkomo-led party next month.
Nkomo, the sources said, was tasked by the politburo to â€œfind a way to stop the break awayâ€.
The ex-PF Zapu leaders met last Saturday in Bulawayo and agreed to separate from Zanu PF which they accused of marginalising Matabeleland provinces.
The breakaway group said it would hold a two-day convention starting December 21, the day Zanu PFâ€™s annual conference kicks off in Bindura.
The Saturday meeting was attended by former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, Zanu PF politburo member Thenjiwe Lesabe, war veteransâ€™ leader Andrew Ndlovu, Zanu PF secretary for administration for Bulawayo Province Tryphine Nhliziyo, and provincial information and publicity secretary Effort Nkomo, among others.
â€œA meeting convened on 8 November 2008 at Stanley Square, Bulawayo, resolved that the political structures of Zapu cease to operate under the title Zanu PF and to resume the title Zapu and that all party structures operate under the authority of the constitution of Zapu,â€ read a statement issued by the disgruntled members.
â€œThe district councils should meet to prepare for and convene a consultative conference consisting of the 10 provinces by December 2008 for the purpose of electing an interim executive charged with the responsibility to mobilise and restructure the party and convene the partyâ€™s congress by March 2009, in terms of Article 6 of the Constitution of Zapu.â€
Â The PF-Zapu members said they were being sidelined in the day-to-day running of the country, especially in the inter-party talks between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations aimed at power-sharing.
Speaking at the meeting, Ray Ncube, the chairman of the Zipra Veterans Association, said it was time they divorce themselves from the â€œmarriage of convenienceâ€ with Zanu PF and revive PF-Zapu.
â€œThe marriage of convenience is no more, this unity (1987 Unity Accord) is not working so we have to separate ourselves from it and create our own Zapu structures,â€ said Ncube, a retired army colonel.
The meeting agreed to organise a convention from December 21-22 and ordered former PF-Zapu members to boycott the Zanu PF conference to send a clear message to the ruling party that the marriage was over.
At the convention, the members said they would re-launch Zapu and build new structures. An interim body to lead the party will be elected at the same venue of the convention.
The meeting had initially proposed to hold a congress in December, but Dabengwa objected and advised that they instead organise a convention.
â€œLetâ€™s call it a convention or a conference to re-launch the party, not a congress.
It is not possible to organise a congress in such a short time,â€ Dabengwa said.
Sources who spoke to the Independent at the meeting said Dabengwa was tipped to lead the party.
â€œThere is general disgruntlement with people like Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Vice-President Joseph Msika who represent no-one from the region,â€ a former PF Zapu member said. â€œFormer cadres are not benefiting from this arrangement (unity with Zanu PF) and original Zanu PF members in Matabeleland like Obert Mpofu and Cain Mathema are the only ones who are benefiting. Dabengwa is the only leader who can lead a PF Zapu revival.â€
The breakaway group is expected to formally announce their â€œdivorceâ€ from Zanu PF at a press conference to be called early next week.
Members who attended the meeting also expressed their frustrations with Msika over his failure to attend a meeting at White City Stadium a fortnight ago.
Addressing the gathering, Amos Ndabambi, one of the most senior surviving PF Zapu members, said they were losing patience with the former Zapu leadership, especially Msika, whom he said has totally forgotten where he came from.
â€œHe (Msika) told us that he is ill. He was not ill or showing any signs that he is not well. He told me that he was not happy with our agenda and the motive behind the meeting,â€ Ndabambi said. â€œItâ€™s a shame the father has disowned his own children and acting in such a manner. We are not happy to be led by such kind of leadership, Msika has forgotten who brought him to where he is now.â€
Nkomo, the Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, confirmed that efforts are at an advanced stage for the partyâ€™s re-launch later this month, but played down Msikaâ€™s recent remarks that they were planning to destroy Zanu PF.
â€œI can proudly confirm that we have gone separate ways and we are not doing this to destroy or to harm anyone. We want PF-Zapu to be fully recognised,â€ Nkomo said. â€œWhy should we want to destroy Zanu PF? We just want to revive our party. We are tired of being called by the uncleâ€™s name.â€
By Loughty Dube/Henry Mhara