Political purges in the ruling Zanu PF party are showing no signs of abating after it emerged that the Harare provincial leadership, led by Godwills Masimirembwa, is set to be axed as recriminations continue over the highly embarrassing Harare East by-election debacle in which the party initially failed to agree on fielding a single candidate.
Since the party’s congress in December last year, Zanu PF has been purging members accused of backing ousted former vice-president Joice Mujuru in her alleged bid to wrest control of the party and state leadership from President Robert Mugabe. Mujuru was fired along with former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, ex-administration secretary Didymus Mutasa and several other senior leaders.
The suspensions and expulsions have continued and only last week 89 senior officials were suspended from holding any party positions for periods ranging from two to five years.
The removals are set to continue with party officials saying the party’s disciplinary committee will soon target Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South as well as Mashonaland West provinces. The likes of Andrew Langa and Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda are in the firing line in Matabeleland South while Callistus Ndlovu, Angeline Masuku, Absalom Sikhosana and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu could be the biggest casualties in Bulawayo.
In Mashonaland West former political commissar Webster Shamu, who has been trying his best to jump ship and endear himself to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, could be the biggest casualty as he is deemed one of the vital cogs in the Mujuru faction.
Shamu made a surprise appearance at a Zanu PF rally in Hurungwe West last weekend to drum up support for Keith Guzah. He stunned many by contritely kneeling before Mnangagwa, after which he chanted slogans in support of the party’s December congress which his former colleagues in the Mujuru faction insist was a fraud.
In Harare, Masimirembwa and beleaguered youth leader Godwin Gomwe are all in the line of fire and are set to be replaced if political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere gets his way.
Sources said the restructuring has been prompted by the fallout over the Harare East primary poll in which Kasukuwere and party secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, backed different candidates to represent the party in the by-election set for June 10 to fill the vacancy left after the MDC-T recalled ousted former secretary-general Tendai Biti and 20 other rebel MPS.
Chombo backed former women’s football boss Mavis Gumbo, while Kasukuwere supported banker Terrence Mukupe in a messy wrangle in which the High Court ruled both aspiring candidates were duly nominated and registered to represent the party. The matter was eventually resolved in favour of Mukupe after Mnangagwa’s intervention.
However, party sources say Kasukuwere is still unhappy with Masimirembwa and fellow provincial members for creating the mess by backing Gumbo who lost to Mukupe in the party’s primary elections.
“As a result, Kasukuwere wants him (Masimirembwa) removed together with Gomwe in a restructuring exercise,” said a party source. The source added Kasukuwere prefers Shadreck Mashayamombe to take over from Masimirembwa.
On Wednesday, Kasukuwere would neither confirm nor deny the impending purges, asking “waudzwa nani dzokera kune akuudza?” (Who told you? Go and ask whoever it is). It never rains but pours for Gomwe who was this week arrested over charges of using First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name to extort US$46 000 from home-seekers in Harare.