ZANU PFâ€™s internal power struggles have resurfaced â€” this time with greater intensity â€” amid revelations that Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who wants to succeed President Robert Mugabe, faces removal from her position by a rival faction led by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The development comes as political realignments involving Zanu PF and theÂ MDC-TÂ led by Morgan Tsvangirai gather momentum.
There was alarm within Zanu PF circles last week after Mujuru and her allies voted with the Tsvangirai faction against the Mnangagwa group in parliament during the election of chairperson for the women MPs caucus.
Sources said the move, which has led to manoeuvres to remove Mujuru by Mnangagwaâ€™s faction, sent shockwaves through Zanu PF in the run-up to the partyâ€™s crucial congress in December. Mugabe is likely to be re-elected for yet another five years as party leader because no one in his party is prepared to challenge him.
However, sources said Mujuru might find herself in serious trouble at the womenâ€™s congress in August before the main party gathering in December, where her rivals want her booted out for working with the MDC.
Zanu PF Womenâ€™s League chairperson Oppah Muchinguri is said to be working with the Mnangagwa camp to oust Mujuru. The sources said the Zanu PF Womenâ€™s League leaders want to rope in First Lady Grace Mugabe to kick out Mujuru who came in in 2004 with her backing.
Mujuru and Muchinguri, who were allies when the former beat Mnangagwa for the position of Zanu PF vice-president at the 2004 congress following the Tsholotsho political debacle, have fallen out and now belong to different camps in Zanu PFâ€™s factional politics. This has changed the complexion of the Zanu PF power struggle as members crisscross factional divides.
Trouble in the current round of Zanu PF infighting started last Friday when Mujuru formed an alliance in parliament with MDC Vice-President Thokozani Khupe to vote for Zanu PF Goromonzi MP Biata Beatrice Nyamupinga against another Zanu PF candidate, Monica Mutsvangwa, senator for Chimanimani.
Nyamupinga, who belongs to the Mujuru faction and Mutsvangwa, who is linked to the Mnangagwa camp, were contesting the position of chairperson for the womenâ€™s caucus.
Nyamupinga won because of Mujuruâ€™s alliance with Khupe which insiders said confirmed long-standing speculation that the Mujuru factionÂ had a strategic alliance with the Tsvangirai camp in the countryâ€™s power matrix.
However, there was fierce infighting before Nyamupinga controversially won the election, conducted in parliament last Friday by a presiding officer from the legislature. Sources said Nyamupinga unprocedurally stood for election despite being beaten in two primaries by Mutsvangwa, Sadc Parliamentary Forum treasurer, on the encouragement of Mujuru whose faction is led by her husband, retired army commander Solomon Mujuru.
The sources said the move resulted in Mutsvangwa, wife of former Zimbabwe ambassador to China Chris Mutsvangwa and ex-chairperson of the Group of Spouses of African Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Beijing, walking out and Nyamupinga claiming the position unopposed, although she was assured of winning because the MDC was going to throw its weight behind her.
â€œThe plan was that since Zanu PF has a majority among women MPs, it would get the powerful post of
chairperson, while the MDC would get vice-chairperson. The parties would then share the other positions of treasurer and secretary, including their deputies,â€ a source said.
â€œBut then the whole process got trapped in Zanu PF factionalism. Mutsvangwa beat Nyamupinga in primaries, but Nyamupinga refused to concede defeat and the party ended up with two candidates in parliament. There was a wrangle before the election, but they failed to resolve the issue. Mutsvangwa ended up walking out in protest and Nyamupinga got in unopposed because the MDC-T was not going to field a candidate as part of the deal.â€
There are 55 women MPs combined, but Zanu PF has a majority of 32 ahead of the two MDC factions combined. The MDC-T faction has at least 20 women MPs, while the remainder are with the MDC-M. The configuration of numbers forced the parties into a deal to ensure the command structure of the womenâ€™s caucus reflected the parliamentary representation.
Sources said the deal was that Zanu PF would get the chairpersonâ€™s post, while the MDC-T would get the vice-chairperson. The MDC-Tâ€™s Mutare senator Keresensia Chabuka was elected vice-chairperson as a result. The two main parties would also get the two posts of treasurer and vice-treasurer and secretary and deputy secretary.Â Â
But this happened after infighting in Zanu PF which spilt into parliament last week. Although parliament is not sitting, there was a session for women to elect leaders of their caucus.
Sources said the fight at the caucus confirms a political re-alignment which might benefit Mujuru in the end if she survives current efforts to remove her. They said the calculation by the Mujuru camp is that if they form an alliance with the MDC-T and Mugabe goes for one reason or another, Mujuru would marshal enough votes in parliament to succeed Mugabe.
The constitution says if Mugabe goes before the end of his term both houses of parliament would sit as an electoral college to elect a successor for the remainder of his tenure.
By securing MDC-Tâ€™s cooperation, Mujuru stands a better chance than Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe if a position arises. However, her alliance with the MDC-T could result in her ouster at the forthcoming Zanu PF womenâ€™s congress in August and the main party congress in December. Â
BY DUMISANI MULEYA