A STORM is brewing in Zanu PF ahead of the party’s elective congress in December, with ex-PF Zapu members furious over moves by their counterparts who were in old Zanu PF before the 1987 Unity Accord — which united the two parties as — to challenge them for the national chairperson’s post.
The national chairship and one of the two posts for vice-president have been held by former Zapu members since the Unity Accord was signed, although Zanu PF members maintain there was no agreement that the chair should be solely for ex-Zapu officials.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa is reportedly eyeing the post and has been canvassing for support ahead of the congress while Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, believed to lead one of the factions in Zanu PF, is also said to be weighing up his options as he is eager to get into the presidium to bolster his presidential ambitions.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the door was open for anyone to challenge for the national chairperson’s position as there was never any agreement that the chair should be reserved for former Zapu members.
“There was never any gentleman’s agreement that the post should go to former Zapu members, but it just so happened that it kept going to (former) Zapu people. The only consensus was on the question of the second vice-presidency”.
However, ex-Zapu members this week said although the agreement was not written in black and white, there was an agreement on the need to balance power.
“That is the reason why there was balance in the top four after the Unity Accord. We had (President Robert) Mugabe as president, (Joshua) Nkomo and (Simon) Muzenda as the co-vice-presidents and (Joseph) Msika as the national chairman. That has been the case since then although time and again our Zanu colleagues have attempted to snatch the post saying it was not reserved,” a senoir politburo member from Zapu said.
“They are up to their usual tricks again, which is unfortunate, but we will fight.
“We will obviously not take it lying down because we believe that position is ours. After Msika, John Nkomo held the position and after him it was held by SK (Simon Khaya Moyo) who is likely to be elevated to the vice-presidency.
“If that happens, we expect one of us to take the national chair’s position to maintain that balance, unless someone is saying we are less equal in the set up.”
Another senior ex-Zapu official said although their Zanu counterparts have always eyed the position, ex-Zapu officials have managed to keep the post by speaking with one voice, which has also resulted in Zanu PF factional leaders seconding candidates from Matabeleland in a bid not to lose the support of the three Matabeleland provinces which are controlled mainly by ex-Zapu officials.
“In 1999, we stood together and spoke with one voice when Mnangagwa challenged Nkomo for the position and in the end, he won it convincingly. In 2009, when Khaya Moyo won it, Mutasa was very keen to land the position and the Mnangagwa faction fielded Kembo Mohadi, which was OK because we do not mind contesting positions among each other,” he said.
Another official said although ex-Zapu officials had agreed on the candidature of Khaya Moyo for vice-president at a meeting held in Gweru last year, they had not tackled the issue of national chairperson’s position.
He said “if things were equal” the next Zanu PF chairperson could come from Bulawayo which has not had anyone in the presidium since Msika died in 2009.