ZANU PF factionalism is now increasingly becoming a vicious cycle — those recently appointed to investigate renewed infighting have become entangled in the problem as they now also stand accused of fanning the internal strife.
Report by Elias Mambo
Following the eruption of fresh clashes in Bulawayo and Manicaland, the Zanu PF politburo appointed a team comprising party national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo, national commissar Webster Shamu, national secretary for security Sydney Sekeramayi and secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa to investigate the latest incidents of infighting and compile a report.
The team will also visit Masvingo and Harare to further probe the factionalism in the party. From there it will go around the country to other provinces as part of the party’s restructuring process before elections.
Last year, Zanu PF plunged into nationwide infighting following its divisive and controversial District Co-ordinating Committee (DCC) polls which were characterised by intimidation, voting irregularities and ballot stuffing.
The DCC elections became a theatre for internal political power struggles as the main factions battled to seize control of the party and position themselves to produce a successor to President Robert Mugabe (89) who is now reeling from old age and reported ill-health.
Zanu PF sources say Mugabe feared succession-fuelled infighting would disrupt his elections campaign, hence the dissolution of the DCC which had resulted in defeat across provinces for Vice-President Joice Mujuru at the hands of her fierce rival, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and his faction.
The sources also say the current outbreak of squabbling in the party still pose a serious threat to Mugabe’s campaign.
“One of the biggest problems which Mugabe fears in the run-up to general elections is the flare-up of factionalism and succession battles. Yes, there are external threats to his bid for re-election, but internal pressures are the biggest problem for him,” a senior Zanu PF politburo member said this week.
“Last year we dealt with renewed factionalism by dissolving the DCCs, but now we have appointed a high-powered team to deal with the problem. However, the composition of the team is partisan and not going to help anything. It will only fuel the problem.”
Mnangagwa’s allies in the party fear that the probe team is not going to fix the problems because it is composed of Mujuru’s associates who would be trying to purge her rival’s supporters from provincial structures, while laying the ground for her to take over from Mugabe.
“The whole team belongs to Mujuru’s faction and it is surprising how such a team can be said to be providing solutions to internal fighting when its leader is heading a faction,” another Zanu PF official said.
Zanu PF is divided into two major factions, one led by Mujuru and the other by Mnangagwa. However, there are factions within factions which overlap as officials shift from one group to the other depending on political circumstances and events.
A clause in the new draft constitution passed by parliament this week, which says if the president retires after his re-election, is incapacitated or dies, he would be replaced by a candidate from the same party, is fuelling the divisions as the two factions fight to strategically position themselves to take over.
However, in a bid to restructure its grassroots which have become a battlefield for factional fights, Zanu PF has dispatched the probe team which the Mnangagwa faction views as partisan.
The team has already visited Bulawayo and Manicaland, which have been torn apart by serious infighting as provincial officials battle for positions of influence.
However, the restructuring done in Bulawayo and Manicaland has already left a trail of further divisions as the probe team is seemingly removing those aligned to Mnangagwa and replacing them with Mujuru supporters.
Party sources told the Zimbabwe Independent the whole probe team is a Mujuru project meant to consolidate her position as she increasingly gains ground ahead of Mnangagwa.
In Bulawayo, the probe team demoted Killian Sibanda, seen as close to politburo member Obert Mpofu, now linked to Mnangagwa, from the position of chair to vice-chair, replacing him with veteran nationalist Callistus Ndlovu who is a Moyo ally. Moyo is seen as a Mujuru associate.
Moyo and Mpofu are fierce rivals eyeing the position of vice-president left vacant by the death of John Nkomo. Although Moyo is the front-runner, Mpofu, who has denied interest in the job, and others, pose a challenge to him.
Sources say the real fight in Zanu PF now is over the position of chairperson of the party. If Moyo becomes vice-president, the position of chairperson will remain vacant and this might trigger a stampede as Mutasa and Mnangagwa, as well as politburo member Kembo Mohadi, among others, are said to be interested.
In Manicaland, the Zanu PF faction loyal to Mujuru appears to have gained ground following the appointment of a new provincial executive. Zimbabwe ambassador to Cuba John Mvundura is the new provincial chairperson, with retired Lieutenant-General Mike Nyambuya his deputy. The two are believed to be aligned to the Mujuru camp.
Mvundura replaced suspended chairperson Mike Madiro, while Nyambuya took over from Dorothy Mabika. Madiro and Mabika are said to be Mnangagwa supporters.
Mabika last week claimed Mutasa, who is linked to the Mujuru faction, was pushing for charges of stealing cattle donated to Mugabe for his birthday against her because she rejected his sexual advances, although sources say the real issue is factionalism.
After Manicaland, the politburo team would be heading to Masvingo province, one of Mnangagwa’s strongholds, and if Mujuru’s supporters are installed as the new regional leaders, the infighting might further escalate.