Jockeying for Politburo Posts Reaches Fever Pitch

LOBBYING and manoeuvring for positions within Zanu PF intensified this week ahead of President Robert Mugabe’s appointment of new politburo members who will direct party programmes for the next five years.

Mugabe is expected to announce new politburo members at the party’s central committee meeting next week. The outgoing politburo met yesterday for the last time after its first meeting of the year last week. The central committee postponed its meeting last week as Mugabe was travelling to the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

 

Inside sources said jockeying for politburo posts escalated this week and the tightest race was now for the position of party political commissar. The position of commissar in Zanu PF is a senior post and whoever is appointed to it rises in the party hierarchy. The secretary of the commissariat in Zanu PF ranks only just below that of the presidium, which includes party leader, two deputies and the chairman, and the secretary for administration.

The commissar is also highly influential because of his responsibility to organise the party to ensure stability and cohesion from its cell levels right up to the top structures.

Sources said those fighting it out for the powerful position include Nicholas Goche, Webster Shamu, Rugare Gumbo and a retired senior army officer who is understood to be active in the party behind the scenes. The sources said Saviour Kasukuwere who was initially linked to the position has shifted focus to that of security or youth instead.

Goche was said to be leading the pack because he acted in that capacity for sometime a few years ago. Shamu is said to be also strong due to his liberation struggle credentials as a party mobiliser, while Gumbo is a veteran of the anti-colonial struggle and has decades of experience in the politics of mobilisation.

The army officer is said to be a prominent “political fixer” for Zanu PF and contributed to its disputed victories since 2000 which were reportedly engineered by the military. Sources said army commanders propping up Zanu PF behind the scenes wanted the retired officer to take over.

They said the fight was also fierce for the position of secretary for information and publicity as Nathan Shamuyarira, who is reportedly unwell, is clinging to his post despite pressure on him from inside to relinquish the post to Jonathan Moyo who returned to the party recently. Moyo received loud applause at the party’s congress last month upon his return.

However, sources said Moyo was also facing resistance from the party’s old guard who want him to be excluded or returned in a junior position as either deputy secretary for information or the commissariat. Other senior party officials such as Ephraim Masawi, currently Shamuyarira’s deputy, also want the position of party spokesman.

Mugabe is next week expected to appoint a new politburo for his Zanu PF party in a move that might see the introduction of new members.

The communist-era politburo comprises 49 members and acts as the secretariat of the central committee between congresses.

The move might see the introduction of new members and give clues to the political direction Zanu PF wants to take in the aftermath of its congress in December.

The Zanu PF congress made crucial resolutions that pre-empted the ongoing political negotiations between the party and MDC formations, while threatening the survival of the inclusive government in the process.

Mugabe and the three members of the party’s presidium, Joice Mujuru, John Nkomo and Simon Khaya Moyo, met last week on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s politburo meeting to discuss various party issues including the forthcoming appointments. All four members of the presidium have their own choices for people who must go in and they had been consulting to come up with a final list.

Zanu PF’s Soviet-styled politburo, whose full name is the political bureau, has 49 members who include the party leader, two deputies, a chairman, 19 heads of department and their 19 deputies, as well as 10 committee members. Mugabe appoints the politburo although there have been muted calls for them to be elected. The politburo’s main function is to act as the administrative organ of the 245-member central committee which was expected to meet today but had its first session of the year postponed.

Sources said Mugabe was likely to make a series of new politburo appointments –– including at least 10 changes to fill vacancies left by those who quit the politburo or who died –– and other planned replacements to rejuvenate his ageing team dominated largely by deadwood.

Those who quit Zanu PF and the politburo citing the party’s leadership and policy failures include Dumiso Dabengwa and Simba Makoni. Thenjiwe Lesabe has also reportedly left or is considering leaving. Several former PF Zapu senior members, some of whom are in the politburo, could be replaced because of their doubtful political loyalties and claims that they were sympathising with Dabengwa.

Other politburo members have died and will be replaced next week. These include vice-president Joseph Msika, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, Ruth Chinamano, Richard Hove and Elliot Manyika who was the party’s political commissar. The replacement of Manyika has been a talking point in Zanu PF as several officials are battling out for the post.

Zanu PF officials jostle to be in the politburo so as to go up in the pecking order and gain political influence for party and individual gain.

 

Dumisani Muleya

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