FACTIONALISM marred Independence celebrations in most parts of the Midlands province after senior Zanu PF officials convened a meeting in Gweru where they planned to take over the reading of President Robert Mugabe’s speech at district celebration centres.
Sources close to the development in the province said a day before Independence, which fell on Friday last week, a meeting was convened by senior party officials aligned to vice-president Joice Mujuru’s camp at Fairmile motel in Gweru.
“It was arranged that they would take over the reading of President Robert Mugabe’ speech at all district celebration centres in the province,” said a senior Zanu PF official.
“Present at that meeting were former governor Cephas Msipa, deputy Industry minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa, deputy Mines minister Fred Moyo and provincial affairs minister Jason Machaya,” another source said.
Chaos then rocked the celebrations in Zvishavane and Mataga in Mberengwa after Moyo and Mabuwa bulldozed their way to deliver Mugabe’s speech.
“Most senior members of the party had to abandon the celebrations in Zvishavane after Moyo was asked to read the speech contrary to arrangements that the local legislator for Zvishavane-Ngezi, John Holder, would do that.”
The source also said at Mataga growth point the celebrations had to be delayed after the local district administrator only identified as Mtetwa refused to give Mabuwa the opportunity to read the speech.
“There was drama at Mataga growth point after Mtetwa said politicians wanted to take over government programmes and insisted it was a tradition that the district administrators read Mugabe’s speeches.”
In Zvishavane, Moyo had a heated argument with Holder before he finally read the speech at Mandava stadium. After an angry exchange of words Holder was asked to step aside moments before he could present the speech.
The stadium was almost deserted after the fiasco and among those who walked out was the deputy secretary for security in the youth league, Lewis Matutu.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Matutu confirmed there was a misunderstanding in Zvishavane, but refused to give further details of what transpired, referring all questions to the party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo.
“I can confirm all was not well, but the best person to explain the nature of the problem is the party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo,” Matutu said.
Holder told this paper that he was embarrassed because legislators play a crucial role in organising the functions.
“As an MP of the area, I had made sure that resources are found only to be embarrassed by those still bitter over the provincial elections,” Holder said.
He added: “Moyo sent me a message accusing me of badly wanting to read the speech yet they had a caucus meeting a day before and planned to hijack the celebrations.”