TENSION is mounting within the deeply divided Zanu PF as different factions gear up for a fight to control the partyâ€™s youth and womenâ€™s leagues at congresses starting today and next Friday respectively.
The battle is between the factions led by kingpins, Emmerson Mnangagwa, regarded as a tough man worthy of the nickname â€œNgwenaâ€ (Crocodile) within Zanu PFâ€™s inner circles and retired army commander Solomon Mujuru, who is not interested in becoming president but who wants to be the power behind the throne, controlling its incumbent.
The third camp, supposedly aligned to President Robert Mugabe with Saviour Kasukuwere and Nicholas Goche pulling the strings, has gone into a marriage of convenience with Mujuru, to block the ascendancy of Mnangagwaâ€™s group, sources said.
The heated succession battle has moved to the youth wingâ€™s conference that starts in Harare today and the womenâ€™s league conference scheduled for next Friday, as Zanu PF prepares for its congress in December.
The jockeying has of late been taking place at all levels of the party and it was even evident at elections to choose provincial leadership for the women and youth wings.
Dirty and underhand play is being used to discredit opponents at whatever cost. One thing is certain: the battle for supremacy will be fierce. The two main camps mirror the political divide between Mugabeâ€™s Zezuru sub-group, which occupies the Mashonaland Central, East and West provinces and the most populous Shona group, the Karanga, which mainly occupies Masvingo and Midlands provinces in the south and who have roped in the Manyikas.
Battle lines have been drawn at the youth congress, with Kasukuwere trying to push his list of people, including his brother Tongai, into top positions. However, there seems to be fierce resistance among some ordinary delegates who believe that Tongai intends to rise on his brotherâ€™s ticket.
A top official in the youth league told the Zimbabwe Independent that ordinary voters were likely to reject some names being proposed by Kasukuwereâ€™s camp, whose list was leaked to youths during accreditation yesterday.
â€œKasukuwere thinks that since he is in the youth league, he has a lot of influence. He also thinks that he can use money to get his line-up in,â€ the official said. â€œBut unfortunately the ordinary members, who are the voters, know that â€œmadhara madharaâ€ (the bigwigs) are Ngwena (Mnangagwa) and his people. It is common knowledge in Zanu PF that Mnangagwa is the man with the power at the moment. The names being proposed will not be accepted without resistance.â€
While, Shurugwi South MP Annastancia Ndhlovu, backed by Kasukuwere and Goche, is now being challenged by Tionei Dziva and Farai Machaya, also from Midlands and said to be in Mnangagwaâ€™s camp.
According to a line-up circulated yesterday at Zanu PF headquarters, the deputy secretary position would go to Midlands, finance to Mashonaland Central, administration to Matabeleland South, security to Mashonaland East, commissariat to Mashonaland West and external affairs to Manicaland.
Tongai Kasukuwere and a Kanengoni would fight it out for the finance position, while sons of Deputy Public Service Minister Andrew Langa and former deputy foreign affairs minister Abedinico Ncube want the administration position.
Kadoma Senator Chiratidzo Gavaâ€™s son Mike is being fielded for the commissariat, while Manicaland-based musician Joshua Sacco wants external affairs.
The youths in Zanu PFâ€™s 10 provinces have only nominated Mugabe and are still to nominate other members of the presidium, with Masvingo having publicly said that they no longer want Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo at the helm of the party. Â
Meanwhile, fireworks are also expected at the womenâ€™s league congress with a clash between Mutoko South MP and politburo member Olivia Muchena, Mutoko North MP Mabel Chinomona and Marondera East MP Tracy Mutinhiri for the deputy secretary position.
Sources in the league say, although Chinomona was Mutoko districtâ€™s choice, she was now being outmanoeuvred by Muchena, who is using her politburo position.
Muchena is in the Mujuru camp, while Chinomona has the backing of Mnanagwa.
Although Oppah Muchinguri is not up for election, because her position of secretary for the Womenâ€™s League is by appointment, she has reportedly clashed with Vice President Joice Mujuru, who sees her as a threat to her position.
Muchinguri has, however, said she was not vying for Mujuruâ€™s position of vice president.
But the tension is so obvious at any Zanu PF gathering and there are reports of Mujuru trying to put down Muchinguri at every occasion.Â Â Â