The ongoing DCC elections have now become the battleground for the two factions wrestling for control of the provinces.
Although Zanu PF has two main camps, there are several other cliques defined mainly by regions and ethnicity, operating within and across the main blocs. In addition to these, there is also another group loyal to Mugabe.
Even though the 88-year-old leader remains the party’s presidential candidate for the elections, which Zanu PF wants to be slated for later this year, the two major camps are trying to position themselves for a post-Mugabe era — they are now looking beyond him.
Senior Zanu PF officials said this week the Mnangagwa faction’s strategy is to seize control of the party at a time when Mujuru is struggling to use her position in government and the party to her advantage.
Although the vice-president seems to be losing ground in her home province, Mashonaland Central, after her candidates lost in five of the eight DCC elections held last week, her faction is now concentrating on the other provinces.
Sources said the Mnangagwa faction was gaining more traction after the death of the vice-president’s influential husband, former army commander General Solomon Mujuru, in its bid to produce a successor to Mugabe.
Despite this, Zanu PF officials aligned to Mujuru’s faction were unperturbed, vowing that “the fight is now on”. The sources said the battle is now playing out in Manicaland where party functionaries aligned to Mnangagwa’s faction have been accused of imposing their candidates, the reason why Mujuru’s allies lost.
DCC elections in Makoni were abandoned, sources say, after it became apparent that the Mnangagwa faction’s candidate, incumbent Albert Nyakuedzwa, was losing.
The ballots, after being stuffed in “OK” supermarket plastic bags, were whisked away from the nine polling stations to Chipinge police station.
Manicaland leaders said provincial chairperson Mike Madiro, who is aligned to the Mnangagwa faction, took the ballot boxes at Vhengere polling station. They said election observers, who consisted of war veterans and war collaborators, were not consulted when the elections were nullified.
One provincial leader said: “They (people aligned to Mnangagwa’s faction) had lost in Chipinge and when they saw that they were losing in Makoni, they decided to abandon the election process, citing irregularities.”
“What irregularities? Who raised these issues and who is the complainant? They are now panicking and disrupting the DCC elections,” he added.
One of the candidates for the Makoni chairmanship, Guy Mutasa said the order to abandon the process came from Madiro.
“There was no counting of the votes after the last person cast their vote at 6pm. We were just told that elections have been nullified. They didn’t consult anyone and no polling agent accompanied the ballots,” Mutasa said.
“We are now not even sure if all the ballots were taken to Chipinge police station. Vote counting was supposed to have been done at the polling stations.”
The succession battle is also playing out in Mashonaland West with John Mafa, aligned to the Mnangagwa faction, recently won a fiercely-contested provincial chairmanship against deputy ministers Reuben Marumahoko and Walter Chidhakwa connected to the Mujuru camp.
Harare businessman Philip Chiyangwa, who also bounced back as the vice-chairperson, is also linked to the Mnangagwa faction, although his loyalty is fickle.