THE ongoing Zanu PF restructuring exercise is fuelling internal strife in the faction- riddled party with officials saying the exercise is calculated to root out former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s supporters from grassroots structures. This comes as the faction loyal to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly suspicious of the intentions of the group coalescing around First Lady Grace Mugabe.
While the two camps which emerged post congress are agreed on the need to wipe out Mujuru’s support base, having joined hands ahead of the December 2014 congress to derail her presidential ambitions, relations are increasingly souring as the camps seek to consolidate their gains.
Zanu PF officials say the Mnangagwa camp was highly suspicious of the restructuring exercise, which despite being overseen by politburo members is being carried out by the commissariat department headed by Saviour Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere is part of the group which has thrown its weight behind Grace. Other key members of the group behind Grace are Jonathan Moyo, Oppah Muchinguri, Edna Madzongwe and Patrick Zhuwao who all played pivotal roles in ensuring her dramatic entry into politics and subsequent dumping of Mujuru.
The restructuring effort is being carried countrywide. Patrick Chinamasa is leading the exercise in Bulawayo, while Obert Mpofu will be in charge of Harare. Sydney Sekeramayi (Manicaland), Edna Madzongwe (Mashonaland East), Josaya Hungwe (Mashonaland Central), Jorum Gumbo (Masvingo), Jonathan Moyo (Matabeleland South), Simon Khaya Moyo (Matabeleland North), and Eunice Sandi-Moyo (Midlands) are also leading the exercise.
The Grace camp is taking advantage of President Robert Mugabe’s incumbency to consolidate support and there are fears the faction wants to control the party’s grassroots structures through the restructuring exercise.
Mnangagwa’s home province, Midlands, has expressed concern that most central committee members from the province were deployed to monitor the restructuring exercise in Matabeleland South whereas they expected a representation countrywide.
“We feel that there was a need for members of the central committee from this province to be spread throughout the provinces so that they see what is happening in other provinces,” said provincial spokesperson Cornelius Mpereri, capturing the fears of the Mnangagwa camp in the process.
The succession fights, which have been a Zanu PF feature for a long time, are being spurred by Mugabe’s ill-health and old age.
Mugabe, who was in Algeria, has been increasingly travelling to Singapore for medical treatment amid obvious signs of infirmity.
Many Zanu PF officials believe he does not have the stamina anymore to finish his current term, hence the jostling among party members to strategically position themselves.
By virtue of being Vice-President, Mnangagwa is now a favourite to take over from Mugabe, but schedule six of the new constitution adopted in 2013 empowers the party with a sitting president to choose a successor from within its ranks after 90 days if the president goes.
Mugabe recently threw the succession race wide open once again by saying none of his deputies were assured of succeeding him.