VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction, which has suffered serious losses and a stunning reversal of political fortunes amid a series of suspensions and expulsions of loyalists, faces a further onslaught as the Zanu PF National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) is yet to preside over a number of cases.
By Elias Mambo
Mnangagwa’s backers, who are not in the party but in state structures, are also being targeted, particularly Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga and Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana.
This comes as tensions have been rising in the NDC’s sub-committee, especially between the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and secretary for security Kembo Mohadi.
The subcommittee, chaired by Mohadi, has been tasked to speed up disciplinary hearings involving the three suspended provincial chairpersons, Joel Biggie Matiza (Mashonaland East), Ezra Chadzamira (Masvingo) and Kizito Chivamba (Midlands) relieved of their duties by Kasukuwere allegedly for blocking and harassing Women’s League members who wanted to attend a rally at the party’s headquarters last month.
The Women’s League maintained the rally was meant to thank President Robert Mugabe for championing the cause of women during his tenure as African Union chairperson, although Mnangagwa’s backers believe it was meant to underline and publicly ridicule the vice-president.
The succession power struggle is now being fought on many fronts. Tempers flared during recent sub-committee hearings on chairpersons’ cases resulting in a heated confrontation between Mohadi and Kasukuwere, which almost turned ugly.
Mohadi, a long-time ally of the vice-president, was infuriated by Kasukuwere’s push for the suspension or expulsion of the provincial chairpersons and some of his faction’s allies, to a point where he ended up saying Kasukuwere was “stupid” or “an idiot”.
Kasukuwere, a member of the G40 faction, which has coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe, was angered by the attack and threatened to beat up Mohadi in the meeting, sources said.
“Other members of the subcommittee complained about the behaviour of the two resulting in Mohadi and Kasukuwere apologising to fellow committee members,” said a senior Zanu PF official.
Apart from the chairpersons’ case, the politburo also directed that the NDC handles the complaint by G40 aligned ministers, Makhosini Hlongwane (Sports and Recreation), Tapiwa Matangaidze (deputy minister of Public Service) and Annastacia Ndhlovu (deputy minister of tourism) who are alleging victimisation by some members of the Midlands provincial coordinating committee (PCC) for refusing to support Mnangagwa’s presidential bid.
The three ministers accused Midlands PCC members Justice Mayor Wadyajena (youth secretary for administration), Owen Mudha Ncube (secretary for security) and former youth provincial chairperson Edmore Samambwa of harassing them. Samambwa was expelled from Zanu PF, alongside six other former provincial chairpersons, last week.
Although the Midlands disciplinary committee cleared Wadyajena, Ncube and Samambwa of any wrongdoing, Hlongwane, Matangaidze and Ndhlovu appealed to the NDC, chaired by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, on that case. Zanu PF officials say the case could also claim the scalp of Mnangagwa’s trusted lieutenant July Moyo.
The sword has also been drawn against Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs Pupurai Togarepi as well as the Youth League secretary for administration Lewis Matutu and his deputy Sibongile Sibanda —who also had votes-of-no confidence passed against them last week – for “violating the party constitution, dishonesty, gross misconduct and failing to discharge functions of their office”.
Mashonaland West is also making moves to expel Mnangagwa’s backers namely Fani Phiri (secretary for education), Simon Solomon (political commissar) and Philemon Ndushu (secretary for transport).
The planned purges come against the backdrop of a three-year suspension last week of Mnangagwa’s most vocal ally, former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa. Mutsvangwa was subsequently booted out of cabinet by Mugabe, who appointed Tshinga Dube in his place.
His wife, Monica was also suspended for three years before being fired as Macro-Economic Planning and Investment deputy minister over the weekend. Also suspended for three years was the Women’s League secretary for administration Espinah Nhari who chanted an anti-G-40 slogan at Grace’s Masvingo rally last year.
Politburo sources said the NDC had in fact recommended expulsions of the Mutsvangwa couple. The Mnangagwa camp, however, fought hard to turn the verdict to a three-year suspension.
The axed Zanu PF youth leaders, who are part of a movement calling itself Save Zanu PF Campaign, had among other things accused Mugabe of using divide-and-rule tactics to maintain his stranglehold on the ruling party. They also accused the veteran leader of personalising the party and running it like a family property.
The group recently wrote a press statement where it accused Grace of destroying the party, while also bemoaning the violation of the constitution.
“Whereas we have noted with great concern how Zanu PF has lost itself by having evidently dumped its very own constitution, ideology and principles with the very party constitution which is supposed to be the party’s corner-stone being the first victim of the current suspensions and now some leaders are operating outside the dictates of the party’s supreme law,” reads the statement.
“We have also noted the false pretence in some in the leadership to have super love for our president while the same have openly in the recent past been fierce critics of the same.
“We have also noted that some close to you (President Mugabe) in your social life, including your wife Dr Grace Mugabe and her so-called allies in the party and some in government, seem to have hatched a plan to destroy the party which you have so much nurtured and protected.”
The document also stated that Zanu PF has become a shadow of its former self and an enemy to its very existence as there seems to be more time for counter-revolutionary fights than productive agendas.
“Cde President we plead with you to rein and restrain our most respected mother, your wife Dr Grace Mugabe for the good of the party, your legacy, unity and for her own good as a politician,” reads the document.
Zanu PF is divided into two warring factions, one led by Mnangagwa while the other is headed by Grace. The Mnangagwa faction has been under siege of late, as evidenced by relentless suspensions and expulsions of its key officials.