ZANU PF will soon resume internal elections in its provinces after the process was suspended last year following vicious factional clashes in Harare and Bulawayo as the party prepares to roll out a massive mobilisation programme ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Acting Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity Patrick Chinamasa said the restructuring programme, which will usher in the return of district coordinating committees (DCCs), will be completed by year-end.
The process was suspended in October last year after factional divisions came to a head as senior officials in the provinces clashed over leadership positions which were created by the dissolution of structures.
There were also reports of running battles between supporters of different factions.Zanu PF is currently divided between President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s adherents and those aligned to his ambitious deputy, Constantino Chiwenga.
The party resolved to re-introduce the district coordinating committees (DCCs) in its structures last year, claiming they were the missing link in coordinating its programmes after winning only one legislative seat in Harare while President Mnangagwa was trounced by the opposition MDC’s Nelson Chamisa in the province.
DCCs were disbanded in 2012 after they became the theatre of terminal factional fights among bigwigs.
Zanu PF indefinitely suspended its district DCC elections after violence flared up in Harare, fuelling fresh factional fights in the ruling party.
At the time, Mnangagwa, who was the party’s legal secretary, was fighting tooth and nail with former vice-president Joice Mujuru to succeed the late former president Robert Mugabe.
“Generally, the accent for this year and subsequent years is mobilisation of the population towards 2013. Currently, we elected DCCs in Harare and Bulawayo; the DCCs concerned are putting up structures from cell to district,” Zanu PF’s acting spokesperson, Patrick Chinamasa, told the Zimbabwe Independent.
“We will roll out this programme to other provinces. This is basically the task for the year. We do not know when we will finish but our work is cut out,” he added.
The creation of a new DCC system is expected to bolster support for Mnangagwa, the party’s 2023 presidential candidate.The developments come at a time Mnangagwa is increasingly coming under scrutiny in and outside the party amid indications some of his staunchest allies, who rallied behind him in the run-up to the November 2017 coup which toppled Robert Mugabe, are beginning to weigh their options.
During the Zanu PF annual national conference in Goromonzi in December, Mnangagwa moved to outsmart Chiwenga, who had been in China for treatment, by getting all the provinces to endorse him as the sole candidate in 2023.
Chiwenga led the military coup which toppled Mugabe and is viewed by some as a potential threat to Mnangagwa’s stay in power.
The Zanu PF leadership believes the DCC system would strengthen the party in provinces where Zanu PF performed dismally in the July 2018 polls. They hope to use the structures to root out factionalism, notwithstanding the fact that they were initially removed for the very same reasons.
This comes amid a fresh power struggle in the party where senior officials clashed over the suspension of Youth League leaders a fortnight ago in what insiders have described as the widening of post-coup political fault lines.
Secretary for Youth Affairs Pupurai Togarepi, his deputy Lewis Matutu and the wing’s firebrand national political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu were relieved of their duties following a heated discussion about their much-publicised anti-corruption crusade which saw them implicating businessmen and top Zanu PF benefactors Kudakwashe Tagwirei and Billy Rautenbach.
Until now, there have only been factional undercurrents pitting Mnangagwa and his deputy Chiwenga, who is widely viewed as harbouring presidential ambitions.
“There is no faction at the moment. We have taken a position as a party to say in 2023 our candidate is President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Why we are doing that is to kill any divisions within our party,” Chinamasa told the Independent.