THE Zanu PF women and youth leagues have become fertile battlegrounds for the warring factions locked in a bitter succession wrangle to replace ageing President Robert Mugabe, who turns 92 next month, amid plots and counter-plots in virtually all provinces.
This comes at a time when the Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere wrote a scathing letter to Mugabe seeking the dissolution of the Midlands provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) amid allegations some senior politburo members are working closely with the youth league to influence the provinces to support Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidential bid.
Kasukuwere — a key member of the ruling party’s young Turks, Generation 40 (G40) faction, which has vowed to derail Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to the presidency — wrote to Mugabe recommending the dissolution of the Midlands PCC and the suspension of the vice-president’s key allies including his right hand man July Moyo.
In his letter Kasukuwere said: “July Moyo has a record of working for VP Mnangagwa to ascend to the presidency. He was instrumental in the Tsholotsho saga and has worked with the former youth chairpersons, namely Godfrey Tsenengamu, Godwin Gomwe, Vengi Musengi, Khumbulani Mlilo and current youth chairpersons Samambwa and Washington Nkomo in destabilising provinces and advancing the VP Mnangagwa’s group interests.”
While factionalism has spilled out into the public in the youth league, the women’s wing has also been rocked by internecine infighting which has claimed the scalp of influential leaders around the provinces.
The factional and succession wars intensified when the Women’s League moved to banish Macro-Economic Planning deputy minister Monica Mutsvangwa from within its ranks.
This followed her alleged act of defiance when she openly threw her weight behind Mnangagwa’s allies in Manicaland — apparently against the wishes of First Lady Grace Mugabe.
In Midlands, the G40 is still pushing for the suspension of the Women’s League secretary for administration Esphenah Nhari who chanted “pasi neG40” slogan in Masvingo just before the December conference.
Sources said the two party structures will play a pivotal role in determining Mugabe’s successor hence factional wars now being fought at their level as warring factions are tussling for control of these strategic party structures.
“You saw how the youth league rallied behind the first lady Grace Mugabe in her spirited move to oust the former vice-president Joice Mujuru,” said the source adding: “Now the youth have deserted her and are backing Mnangagwa.”
In the build-up to the conference the women’s league pushed a motion to include a woman within the presidium as pressure mounted to oust Mnangagwa.
However, Mnangagwa and his loyalists who included the youths, war veterans and several other provinces, came up with a counter strategy to support the proposal while demanding that the female vice-president must come from the former Zapu leaders currently represented by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko.
The Mnangagwa faction wanted Mphoko to pave way for a former Zapu woman and in the process secure Mnangagwa’s position.
The women’s league deputy secretary Eunice Sandi Moyo, who is Grace’s ally, was suggested as the potential replacement to Mphoko.
However, Grace and her allies are rejecting the counter proposal saying it smacked of the Tsholotsho strategy which emerged after a similar proposal was made to propel ousted former vice-president Joice Mujuru into that position.
The proposal for a female vice president created a stalemate in Victoria Falls which forced the party to take the unusual step of closing the conference without the final resolutions.