The fierce succession battle, played out behind the scenes, has now moved to the war veterans, threatening to split them along factional lines.
The war veterans, who fought in the war of liberation are often employed to intimidate opposition supporters. They are seen as a powerful extension of the party and control of the association would be an asset in the succession race.
There are three factions in Zanu PF, two led by kingpins Emmerson Mnangagwa and Retired Army Commander Solomon Mujuru.
The third camp, supposedly aligned to President Robert Mugabe with Saviour Kasukuwere and Nicholas Goche pulling the strings, has reportedly teamed up with Mujuru to block the ascendancy of Mnangagwa’s group.
The Mujuru faction is closing in to take control of the war veterans’ executive at the weekend at a congress in Chinhoyi, whose sponsors, Zanu PF sources said, are businesspeople in the retired army commander’s camp.
Zanu PF sources said Mujuru’s faction is already in control of the central committee, youth and women’s leagues, plus the presidium.
War veterans, said to be aligned to Mujuru, are pushing for the removal of its current leadership chaired by Jabulani Sibanda and deputised by Joseph Chinotimba, who were both linked to the so-called Tsholotsho saga.
Retired Colonel Basten Beta is tipped to take over from Sibanda, while former war veterans secretary-general Endy Mhlanga, Douglas Mahiya, Moffat Marashwa and Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa are among those reportedly vying for posts to be contested at the weekend congress, which the current executive says is unconstitutional.
While the Mujuru group is organising the Chinhoyi congress, the current executive, which claims to have the mandate to call for such a meeting, is maintaining that the congress will only be held either in January or February next year.
Chinotimba said: “There are no elections and congress at the weekend. Normally a congress is funded by the party, so where are they getting the money from? We want to know who their donor is and what his interests are. Those calling for the congress have lost their minds. They need to be seen by a psychiatrist.”
Mhlanga said the current executive’s mandate expired years ago.
The current executive, he said, had failed to call for two congresses, in 2005 and in 2008.
According to the war vets constitution, the association is supposed to elect new leadership every three years at a congress. The last congress was held in Mutare in 2002.
“Why should we postpone to next year? If they want to hold on to power, we will push them out forcefully,” said Mhlanga.
In response, Chinotimba said if the congress goes ahead to elect a new executive, it would operate as a parallel structure to the current leadership.
“Why forcefully, we are not violent people, we have big thoughts –– tinepfungwa kukunda ma (we have brains better than the) British and Americans. We are leaders, so things should be done properly,” he said.