THE Zanu PF national elections directorate’s crunch meeting last week was rocked by fierce clashes with party bigwigs — secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and women’s league secretary Oppah Muchinguri — reportedly confronting each other over the primary elections candidates list.
Party insiders said the tense meeting held at the Zanu PF headquarters was almost disrupted after Mutasa dismissed Muchinguri’s contribution, saying he was the most senior official from Manicaland and fully understood what was good for the party.
Mutasa is believed to belong to the camp led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, while Muchinguri is aligned to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Muchinguri, who also clashed with Mutasa last month during a politburo meeting, hit back at Mutasa insisting she was also a senior politician from Manicaland and could not be bullied.
The two engaged in a heated exchange in the presence of Zanu PF national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo, who also doubles as the elections directorate chairperson.
Moyo subsequently intervened and called for peace.
“It was an embarrassing moment as Mutasa and Muchinguri traded insults in the meeting considering that they once clashed in May,” said a senior party official. “It was clear that factional battles were at play when the heavyweights were engaged in combat. It’s all about the succession issue.”
Mutasa stands accused of elbowing out former Zanu PF Manicaland chairperson Mike Madiro who is said to be in Mnangagwa’s camp. Mutasa has publicly accused senior Zanu PF officials in Manicaland of belonging to the Mnangagwa faction and decampaigning him.
Tensions reached fever-pitch when Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde attacked the politburo for trying to impose candidates arguing that he was better-placed to discuss the calibre of aspiring MPs from his province because he was constantly in touch with the electorate.
Kaukonde, who is said to be aligned to the Mujuru camp, came out guns blazing after Moyo reportedly questioned some of the names on the Mashonaland East candidates’ list.
“Of all the provincial chairpersons who presented a list of candidates, Kaukonde stood his ground and refused to be intimidated by the party heavyweights,” said a party official.
At a recent politburo meeting, Mugabe made a passionate plea for unity ahead of elections, but the long-running factionalism and infighting are likely to deal a heavy blow to the party’s performance in the impending polls.
Zanu PF blamed its dismal performance in the 2008 elections on wrangling where disgruntled party members sabotaged Mugabe in an operation code-named Bhora Musango.