Dinha is said to have had a bitter fallout with party heavyweights Nicholas Goche and Saviour Kasukuwere who are now reportedly using provincial party chairman Dickson Mafios to fight the governor— Mugabe’s representative in the region.
On Sunday the provincial executive resolved to take Dinha to task for allegedly giving land to a white farmer, Georgina Brown, at a crucial time ahead of elections. This case has triggered fierce infighting within the province, threatening to destabilise Mugabe and Zanu PF’s only remaining stronghold.
Although Zanu PF and Mugabe are still relatively strong in Mashonaland regions, Mashonaland central province remains their fortress. The MDC-T has not been able to sufficiently penetrate the region like it has in all others.
Zanu PF is currently torn apart by internal strife, triggered by district coordinating committee elections. Mugabe last week denounced factionalism and greed in Zanu PF, saying it was destroying the party. The Zanu PF politburo is going to hold an extraordinary meeting to tackle the burning issue which was raised at the decision-making body’s meeting last week.
Sources in the province said this week senior politburo members in the region were accusing Dinha of undermining them before Mugabe and abandoning working in their factional interests. This has left Dinha exposed to the rage of heavyweights, including Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Goche and Kasukuwere.
The infighting in Mashonaland Central intensifiedthis week amid reports that Mugabe would appoint a new politburo team anytime from now. Mashonaland central bigwigs fear Mugabe might elevate Dinha into the politburo, given his loyalty to the president, making him more powerful and difficult to contain.
“There is a belief that Dinha is too close to Mugabe and this seems to have been confirmed when the president visited Mount Darwin on April 20,” said a member of the provincial executive.
“On arrival at Mount Darwin Primary School Mugabe requested that Dinha accompany him in his car as he went to view an exhibition by small-scale enterprises. He was also in the president’s car when he went for lunch at Mujuru’s home.
“The situation got worse later when Mugabe complained about the state of the roads in the province and country in general and also expressed disappointment with some aspects of the indigenisation programme. This was seen as a direct attack on the responsible ministers, Goche (Transport, Communication and Infrastructure development) and Kasukuwere (Indigenisation), and some people felt the attack was as a result of Dinha’s briefing.”
Asked about the wrangling, Dinha said word that he would be appointed to the politburo was just speculation although he was ready to serve the party in any position from cell to the politburo.
The battle in the province has also sucked in Vice-President John Nkomo this week as it emerged some party heavyweights were trying to block him from attending a national integration meeting in Mvurwi next week and visiting a primary school which teaches Ndebele from Grade 3 – the only one playing a formal cultural and linguistic integration role in Zimbabwe.
The school has made headlines for teaching Ndebele in Mashonaland region in an unprecedented experiment which might result in Shona and Ndebele, the country’s two main vernacular languages, being taught nationally.
Nkomo was invited by Dinha, but some officials reportedly advised him not to attend, claiming the province was divided and the meeting would be infiltrated MDC activists.
Dinha seemed to confirm there were people baying for his blood although he insisted he had good relations with the party’s provincial leadership, including Mafios.
“I have a sound working relationship with the political leadership of Mashonaland Central,” said Dinha. “However, a few failed politicians, opportunists and misguided frog-jumpers, as well as disruptive former MDC elements in Mazowe are trying to divide the party and province,” he said.
Asked about his briefing to Mugabe which has caused a storm, Dinha confirmed he accompanied the president on the tour and briefed him on developments in the province. He said he was not worried about plots against him because only Mugabe had the capacity to remove him from his post.
“I relate well with the provincial chairman. We have distinct roles,” Dinha said. “He is the provincial chairman and I am the governor of the province who is mandated to govern by the president of the republic. I’m hired and fired by one person, His Excellency the President.
“I’m the president’s man in Mashonaland Central by virtue of being the governor and resident minister. I was appointed by the president to discharge his mandate. In terms of protocol, there is nothing amiss for me to escort the president, to receive him with honour and decorum and to brief him on relevant matters.”
On the issue of giving land to Brown, Dinha said the recommendation was made by the Provincial Land Committee (PLC) but the final decision came from the Ministry of Lands, the acquiring authority.
Mafios said the fact that the provincial executive wants a clarification from Dinha did not mean he was under siege. “The governor is the deputy secretary of lands but was not available for our meeting on Sunday as he was attending a funeral,” said Mafios. “The fact that people wanted clarification from him on certain issues does not mean we are not in good books. Those who are saying there is bad blood are trying to fuel confusion.”
Kasukuwere said he did not need to have a good relationship with Dinha “because he is not my wife”, but said they worked well together.
The discord in Mashonaland Central is indicative of the unstable and fluid nature of Zanu PF factions. Goche and Kasukuwere are broadly in the Mujuru faction, although they now firmly support Mugabe.
The Mujuru faction has been declining since the Tsholotsho palace coup debacle of 2004 when it trounced the rival camp led by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Even though it triumphed during the 209 congress before the death of Genelral Solomon Mujuru, it has now lost some key members like Oppah Muchinguri, who played a crucial role in VP Mujuru’s ascendancy. Muchinguri has crossed over to the Mnangagwa faction. Politburo member Obert Mpofu has also left the Mujuru camp and is leaning towards the Mnangagwa faction.
Other key members of the Mujuru group such as Dumiso Dabengwa and Simba Makoni left after quitting Zanu PF.
The Mnangagwa faction has also been significantly weakened by the departure of pivotal players like former Information minister and politburo member Jonathan Moyo and Flora Buka, among others. Zanu PF remains dominated by the two main Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions, although there are factions within factions.