PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s fractured Zanu PF party last week emerged from its politburo meeting deeply divided over the issue of controversial ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema who has created conflict within parties on both sides of the Limpopo.
The fight in the stormy politburo meeting over Malema could heighten political tensions within the parties riddled with factions that support and oppose the militant ANC youth leader’s buccaneering leftist politics.
Informed sources said the battle in the politburo over Malema started after Zanu PF Women’s League head Oppah Muchinguri suggested the party show support for Malema who was facing charges of misconduct in the ANC arising from his recent visit to Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo is said to have commented on Muchinguri’s remarks in a dismissive manner while disparaging Malema. This sparked fierce exchanges among senior party officials.
Those who ended up joining the fray, sources said, included Saviour Kasukuwere, Sydney Sekeramayi, Obert Mpofu and Stan Mudenge. Moyo came out bruised and worse off, sources said.
Sources said Kasukuwere was the first to stick a knife into Moyo in defence of his “comrade” Malema whom he helped to bring to Zimbabwe last month. Others joined in, laying into Moyo until Sekeramayi intervened to cool down tempers, it was said.
“Moyo was seriously attacked by senior politburo members over his remarks on the ANC and Malema. After Muchinguri said Zanu PF must support Malema as the party’s Youth League had done, Moyo claimed he knew better what was going on in the ANC and tried to brush aside Muchinguri,” a senior politburo member said. “But there was a backlash from Kasukuwere and others.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday would neither confirm nor deny the issue.
“Unfortunately, I left that meeting early as I was leaving for South Africa that day. Sorry, I can’t help because it must have been discussed after I had left,” he said.
Another politburo member who attended the meeting said Mudenge insinuated he was shocked Moyo was negative in his remarks on Malema, while complimentary of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe who was known to be critical of Zanu PF.
“Mudenge indicated that Mantashe was anti-Zanu PF, including during the recent meetings of former southern African liberation movements in Dar es Salaam,” the source said.
Mugabe attended the meetings in Tanzania. Sources said Mantashe, who was once deported from Zimbabwe during his days in Cosatu, suggested in one of the meetings in Dar es Salaam that the former liberation movements now in power must reject Zanu PF’s propaganda on sanctions and instead press it to implement the global political agreement in full.
The sources said Kasukuwere was more angered by Moyo’s remarks because he was instrumental in bringing Malema to Harare last month.
The Zanu PF Youth League hosted Malema and later issued a statement in his support when he got into trouble upon his return home. Kasukuwere described the ANC Youth leader, who was showered with gifts including some cattle, as a “bull” for his fierce leftist rhetoric on politics and the economy, mainly indigenisation. Kasukuwere is spearheading the indigenisation campaign in Zimbabwe.
After his visit to Harare, Malema came out in full support of Mugabe’s failed leadership and policies which ruined the economy and impoverished the population. He endorsed Zanu PF’s policies and programmes, including land reform and indigenisation, while attacking the MDC.
This left South African President Jacob Zuma, facilitator of inter-party talks in Zimbabwe, compromised. ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete tried to limit Malema’s damage during her recent visit to Zimbabwe to attend Moyo’s party elevation celebrations in Plumtree. She met MDC-T, MDC-M, Zapu and Zanu PF officials during her visit.
Matters came to a head when Malema threw out a BBC journalist from a press conference at Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg.
Angered by his trip to Zimbabwe — where he also defiantly sang the banned “Ayesaba amagwala, dubul’ibhunu!” (The cowards are afraid, shoot the Boer!) song — and a series of other misdemeanours, the ANC hauled Malema before a disciplinary committee.
Malema was fined R10 000 and ordered to attend anger management and effective leadership courses.