Cracks are widening in Zanu PF’s deeply divided Bulawayo province with new clashes among party bigwigs in the province over the unilateral co-option of provincial executive members by chairman Callistus Ndlovu intensifying.
Report by Brian Chitemba
The fresh conflict is threatening to further weaken the party ahead of the crucial elections the Constitutional Court ordered should be held by July 31.
Senior Zanu PF officials told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Ndlovu, who was appointed to head Bulawayo by the politburo, co-opted about 50 members into the provincial executive — a move said to be a grand plot to promote his supporters as factional battles escalate.
The controversial co-option saw former Bulawayo chairman Isaac Dakamela, Peter Nyoni — husband to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni — and provincial women’s league boss Eve Bitu bouncing back into the provincial executive.
This has sparked the ire of senior party officials who accuse Ndlovu of trying to resuscitate his political power base by promoting close associates.
Ndlovu ascended to the influential post at the instigation of his Bulilima district homeboy, Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, who has been on a whirlwind tour of provinces making changes which he defended as strategy to strengthen the party ahead of polls.
Moyo, reportedly aligned to a camp led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, spearheaded the removal of Manicaland chairman Mike Madiro and his chairman Dorothy Mabika and replaced them with Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Cuba John Mvundura and Retired Lieutenant-General Mike Nyambuya.
Party insiders say the drastic changes in the provinces were part of a wider plot by Mujuru to consolidate her power base in the race to succeed ageing party leader President Robert Mugabe.
Zanu PF officials said dethroned Bulawayo chairman who is now Ndlovu’s deputy chairperson, Killian Sibanda, together with a group of discontented provincial leaders, wrote a letter to politburo members in the region complaining about Ndlovu’s appointment of Dakamela, Bitu and other officials without consulting provincial executive members.
Ndlovu, sources said, worked with youth leader Khumbulani Mlilo and women’s league leader and central committee member, Judith Ncube, to draw a list of officials aligned to their camp who were added to the provincial executive.
“The issue is expected to be topical at the next provincial coordinating committee meeting because of growing disgruntlement in the province over Ndlovu’s conduct. The developments may negatively affect the party’s performance in the forthcoming elections,” said a senior Zanu PF official.
Meanwhile, war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda has lashed out at party bigwigs in the region, including former Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, for “destroying the party through factional politics”.
Sibanda openly launched a blistering attack on party leaders during the burial of former Zanu PF Bulawayo chairman Themba Ncube on Saturday at the provincial heroes’ acre.
He accused the heavyweights of working with former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa to re-launch Zapu.
“Sibanda’s comments were met with wild applause and ululation as party members showed support in attacking senior officials who are causing divisions in the party,” said a source who attended the burial.
Sibanda could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was unavailable.