Sources in the party told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the congress was likely to be stormy because of increased factional fighting escalated by last month’s nomination of the presidium.
There are two main factions in Zanu PF fighting to succeed octogenarian President Robert Mugabe. Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp is entangled in a bitter struggle for power with a faction led by former army general Solomon Mujuru.
Mnangagwa’s camp was ruthlessly crushed in last month’s Zanu PF presidium nominations.
The majority of the 10 Zanu PF provinces sided with the Mujuru camp and nominated Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo as the party’s co-vice presidents and Simon Khaya Moyo as chairperson.
Mnangagwa wanted Nkomo and Muchinguri as vice-presidents and Kembo Mohadi as chairperson.
The sources said apart from Muchinguri’s blazing guns, party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa with the backing of senior politicians in Manicaland and Mashonaland West province wanted the congress to overturn the nomination of Moyo as party chairman citing procedural irregularities.
Muchinguri, the sources said, has been mobilising resources and support to mount a challenge against Joice Mujuru’s nomination on the basis that it was irregular.
“Muchinguri has been to South Africa to mobilise resources to reverse Mujuru’s nomination,” a senior politburo member said. “She has been all over the provinces seeking support. She feels the nomination was un-procedurally done.”
The Women’s League boss was nominated vice-president by Masvingo province, which later withdrew its support for her after results from other provinces showed Mujuru had won in more than five provinces.
The move by Masvingo, the sources said, was irregular and should not have been allowed.
In the case of Mutasa, the sources said, he would contend at the congress that he failed to garner the required support after provinces were made to believe that the chairmanship was reserved for ex-PF Zapu members in line with the 1987 Unity Accord.
Apart from that, provinces such as Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West had initially nominated Mutasa chairperson before making a U-turn.
In Mashonaland West, Mutasa’s supporters this week claimed that politburo members misinformed the party that the province had nominated Moyo when it had selected Mutasa.
Mashonaland Central switched to Moyo claiming that their decision was in line with the unity accord.
Secretary for lands in Mashonaland West, Themba Mliswa, and Chief Zvimba on Novermber 27 met Mugabe at the Chinhoyi University of Technology graduation ceremony and complained about the unprocedural way Chombo handled the nomination of the chairperson of the party.
Mugabe, the sources said, had since confronted one of the politiburo members seeking explanation.
Mutasa this week confirmed that Manicaland, the province he hails from, wanted the Wednesday politburo meeting to deal with how Moyo was nominated chairperson.
He said the province felt that the nomination was not done properly because many provinces had the misconception that the party chairperson should hail from the Matabeleland region.
“There is no written law in the party which states that the party chairman should come from the Matabeleland provinces,” Mutasa told the state-controlled media. “Manicaland province therefore feels that the nomination for the chairmanship was not done properly. On the nomination date, some provinces altered and delayed their nominations and we feel that this was unfair.”
The politburo discussed the nomination of the presidium but no final decision was made. Deliberations on the matter are expected to be held at another politburo meeting next Wednesday. The meeting will mark the beginning of the five-day congress in the capital.
In Masvingo the first nomination of Muchinguri as Zanu PF vice-president ahead of Joice Mujuru left the party split down the middle.
War veterans and members of the Mujuru faction have resolved that the provincial executive led by Lovemore Matuke be axed for backing Muchinguri.
At the weekend, party members led by politburo member Celina Pote staged demonstrations in Chiredzi calling for Matuke’s executive committee to vacate office because it was allegedly fanning factionalism in the party.
Muchinguri was not reachable for comment at the time of going to press.