The issue has raised disquiet within Zanu PF structures, particularly among senior party officials, who are now querying Moyo’s agenda and the damage the adverts are inflicting on the party. Some newspapers have been interpreting the adverts to mean President Robert Mugabe’s party has now got into election mode and was stirring the troubled political waters by resorting to familiar threatening language and name-calling.
Well-informed sources said grave concerns about Moyo’s adverts have been raised at various party forums, especially among politburo members. The worries of the politburo members include that Moyo’s adverts had not been sanctioned by the party, no party structure was involved in their preparation and it is not known for certain who is paying for them, although Moyo apparently used his friends to place them and later reimbursed them.
In one of the adverts, Moyo claims that Zanu PF is an “unstoppable machine” and that “off-shoot political parties will remain off-shoot, offside and scoring own goals”. He then goes on to talk about the liberation struggle, the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu and Zapu, the land reform programme, and the country’s resources and sovereignty.
Senior Zanu PF officials have questioned why Moyo was placing the adverts which were not officially approved by the party and what his agenda was. A senior Zanu PF official said Moyo was working with an organised group of people who want to position themselves for the Zanu PF leadership and possibly the presidency of the country. The official said the issue was being viewed in the context of Mugabe’s succession race in which Moyo’s name had from time to time come up.
“The adverts were not approved by the party as is usually the case and no party structure was involved in their production,” a senior Zanu PF politburo member said.
“They are also not being paid for by the party and this raised even more serious questions about Moyo’s agenda,” he said. “We understand a friend of his paid for them but he was reimbursed. However, we do not know for sure who is behind all this. This has caused problems in the party. Everyone who has seen the adverts is asking what Moyo’s agenda is behind all this. They are controversial. The adverts don’t even make political sense in some aspects. What does it mean that Zanu PF is an ‘unstoppable machine’? What are off-shoot political parties? The football metaphors of off-side and own goals in politics are also misplaced. In football how can an offside player score an own goal? It shows he doesn’t even understand football and this is making us a laughing stock.”
Moyo was not available for comment. Even Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo could not be found. However, senior party officials said the issue had raised disquiet in the party and left Moyo in the spotlight.
The situation is fuelled by the recent eruption of a simmering power struggle between Vice-President John Nkomo and Moyo.
Nkomo and Moyo clashed recently in Bulawayo over the co-option of central committee members as a new form of succession surfaced in Matabeleland. Senior Zanu PF officials say Nkomo and Moyo, who showed traces of political hostility against each other during the Zanu PF leadership nomination process before last year’s elective party congress by not working together, are now battling to control the Matabeleland political turf. Obert Mpofu, another Zanu PF politburo member, is also one of the senior politicians from the region battling Nkomo for control and supremacy.
“There is a new power struggle in Matabeleland which has a succession dimension. Nkomo is eyeing the Zanu PF leadership, so is Moyo. The two, who failed to work together before last year’s congress, now view each other as rivals,” another politburo member said.
“Their fight, which is still a low intensity power struggle, can erupt into a fierce battle. It was discussed in the politburo last month after the two clashed on the co-option of central committee members in Bulawayo.”
The Zanu PF politburo last month rejected the co-option into the central committee of Nkomo’s allies in Bulawayo.
The politburo ordered fresh elections to fill central committee vacancies for Bulawayo after rejecting seven names forwarded by Isaac Dakamela, the provincial chairman.
Former Bulawayo mayor Abednico Nyathi, Dennis Ndlovu, Misheck Velaphi, Elphus Tshuma, and former Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial commissar Raphael Baleni, Nelly Dupute and Violet Ncube were supposed to have joined the decision-making central committee, but were rejected after Moyo intervened.
The issue has sucked in senior Zanu PF leaders in Matabeleland, including politburo members Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Absalom Sikhosana.
Moyo blocked Nkomo’s allies in a move seen as retaliation for the vice-president’s move to stop the chairman’s faction from getting onto the central committee. Nkomo opposed the election of Bulawayo war veterans’ leader Themba Ncube, former Bulawayo councillor Emmanuel Kanjoma, businessman Charles Chiponda, Anna Moyo, Sifelani Dube, Otilia Pasipanodya and Emily Hela. This has left Nkomo and Moyo on a collision course.