AS jockeying within Zanu PF for influential provincial executive positions intensified this week accusations and counter-accusations of imposition of candidates, vote-buying and clandestine meetings were rampant in all provinces.
Brian Chitemba/Elias Mambo/ Clayton Masekesa
Sources claim a faction allegedly aligned to Vice-President Zanu PFdistributed 200 litres of fuel to each constituency countrywide for campaign programmes ahead of the crucial party polls.
“The gloves are off and if the polls are not rigged as we fear, we are looking at (winning) seven provinces out of 10,” said a top Zanu PF official close to a faction allegedly led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. “We are heading for a landslide victory similar to the one we had after the DCC polls (District Coordination Committees) which were later disbanded.”
The factions will be entangled in a make-or-break fight to wrest control of provincial executives tomorrow as the camps position themselves in the long-running race to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Top Zanu PF sources told the Zimbabwe Independent Mujuru was under siege from the Mnangagwa faction which is also using the state media to declare its interests.
Last Saturday Nathaniel Manheru, widely believed to be Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, penned a piece in the Herald which appeared to prop up Mnangagwa.
Manheru wrote: “How does a provincial leadership disqualify Mai Mnangagwa on grounds of rules of marriage without implying matching disqualification for Vice-President Mujuru who stood in Mashonaland Central and yet is betrothed to Mashonaland East, so to speak? Would the leadership dare a whole Vice- President of the party?
The rebound of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo, believed to be linked to the Mnangagwa faction, has allegedly put the state media under pressure to support that camp.
The fight between Mujuru and Mnangagwa has intensified ahead of the provincial executive elections because the structures will play a pivotal role in choosing members of the presidium at the December 2014 elective congress. A candidate for any of the presidium posts — president, two vice-presidents and chairperson — needs the endorsement of six out of the 10 provinces to win.
The Mnangagwa faction, insiders said, was eyeing seven provinces, which will ensure the minister is nominated first vice-president ahead of Mujuru at the 2014 congress.
“Mugabe will get a further five-year term as the party’s first secretary, but he won’t contest the 2018 elections. This is why the factions want to make sure their leaders clinch the first vice-presidency,” said a source close to the developments.
As part of its strategy, the Mnangagwa faction is using the same methods implemented to great effect in winning DCC elections last year, ensuring a sweep of the provinces after it won most of the polls, only for Mugabe to disband the DCCs claiming they were breeding factionalism.
Sparks are set to fly in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces.
The fight will be fierce in Masvingo, which has often been a political hotbed for Zanu PF, where intra-party violence erupted after the disputed DCCs elections last year. Masvingo provincial chairperson Lovemore Matuke, who wanted to battle it out with retired Brigadier-generals Killian Gwanetsa and Gibson Mashingaidze, was suspended and replaced by another strong Mnangagwa ally, Ailess Baloyi.
In Mashonaland West Temba Mliswa, Philip Chiyangwa, Nimrod Chiminya (brother of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo), outgoing chairperson John Mafa and another ex-combatant only identified as Beta will battle it out.
“I am the chairperson who contributed to the victory of Zanu PF in the just-ended general elections,” said outgoing chairperson Mafa. “I am not going about splashing money to buy votes but those who know me and have confidence in my leadership will vote for me.”
In Manicaland current provincial chairman, John Mvundura, who is the Zimbabwean ambassador to Cuba and belongs to the Mujuru faction, will contest against Chimanimani senator and former Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, who belongs to the Mnangagwa faction, for the provincial chairperson’s post.
Sources this week said the provincial coordinating committees and inter-district meetings that were held recently endorsed Mvundura as the provincial chairperson.
“The Zanu PF Manicaland heavyweight Didymus Mutasa is said to have masterminded the endorsement,” said the source.
The source also said five districts, namely Mutare, Mutasa, Makoni, Chipinge and Zimunya/Marange, are backing Mvundura while three districts in Chimanimani, Buhera and Nyanga, prefer Mutsvangwa.
So far, the faction loyal to Mujuru appears to have gained ground in Manicaland as 15 of the 22 parliamentarians who won the July 31 elections reportedly belong to her faction.