SENIOR Zanu PF officials are jostling for the vacant Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provincial chairmen’s positions following an order by the party’s national commissar Webster Shamu to conduct elections to elect a substantive leadership. Report by Brian Chitemba
The two provinces have gone for several months without substantive chairpersons after the sacking of Zenzo Ncube in Matabeleland North and Isaac Dakamela in Bulawayo because of factional infighting threatening to tear the party apart.
The two were linked to Zanu PF politburo members, party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and Mines minister Obert Mpofu who are engaged in a battle for control of the region.
Ncube accused Mpofu of orchestrating his downfall to pave way for his sidekick Zwelitsha Masuku, who in turn was fired by Moyo.
Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu is currently acting chairperson, but influential figures are vigorously campaigning for their candidates.
Sources said Sithokozile’s husband, Jonathan, was also interested in succeeding his wife while Masuku, Ncube, Clifford Sibanda and Reeds Dube have also thrown their hats into the ring.
However, the sources said Mpofu was determined to have Masuku or Dube elected chairperson as he continues to build a business and political empire in the region.
Moyo wants either Mathuthu or Sibanda to assume the chairmanship to help him make inroads in assuming relevancy in the province. This would help him battle Mpofu in the race to succeed ailing Vice-President John Nkomo.
Zanu PF chairpersons are influential in nominating vice-presidents when a vacancy arises, and therefore control of provinces is an essential part of building a strong powerbase.
Mpofu boasted at a weekend rally in Hwange that he was the only senior politician to win elections in Matabeleland and chastised his politburo colleagues as “appointees” who should not be taken seriously.
Moyo and Nkomo are serving at the pleasure of Mugabe, having failed to win any election since the MDC started contesting in 2000.
Zanu PF officials said Shamu recently met party leaders in Bulawayo and ordered them to co-opt a senior official as substantive chairman to replace Isaac Dakamela who was sacked over allegations of failing to run the party in the province.
It is believed acting chairperson Killian Sibanda was likely to be appointed in a substantive capacity because elections for a new term would be held next year.Dakamela, an ally of Mpofu, was ousted at the instigation of Moyo who influenced the selection of Sibanda in the caretaker role.
Shamu could not be reached for comment but Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo denied that the axing of the Bulawayo and Matabeleland provincial chairpersons was due to infighting.
“The provinces in Matabeleland will choose their chairpersons soon as we gather pace in strengthening the party ahead of elections,” said Gumbo.