SYDNEY KAWADZA/James Muonwa/Kenneth Matimaire/ TENDAI MAKARIPE
BATTLES to control Zanu PF structures raged across Zimbabwe this week, with the party’s leadership struggling to complete the setting up of district structures ahead of the national conference slated for next week in Bindura.
Several district elections planned for this week suffered stillbirths as violence erupted in some provinces.
The conference will be held virtually to manage Covid–19 protocols, with politburo members participating from the main venue while the rest will follow proceedings online.
There have been reports that apart from scuffles reported across provinces, fissures have been widening within the ruling party’s presidium.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week acknowledged the revolutionary party had been ripped apart by turmoil, after which he threatened to crackdown on those violating the party’s constitution.
Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Harare, Masvingo and the Midlands provinces have been flashpoints in ongoing battles to control the party.
Zanu PF sources said while the house was burning, those in power tussles have aligned themselves to either Mnangagwa or his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.
“The battles in Zanu PF start at the district committees’ level,” a former provincial coordinating committee (PCC) member in Mashonaland Central said.
“It’s obvious that when you don’t have influence in districts you will not have control of the people who will make up the provincial committee members and structures. The district will coordinate all these structures,” the source said.
Mashonaland Central structures have been at each other’s throats for a long time, with the incumbent Kazembe Kazembe facing competition for the top post.
His post is being eyed by former chairperson James Makamba, businessman Tafadzwa Musarara and Christopher Chitindi, a former Muzarabani legislator.
“People are aligned to various groups and these groups go up to the leadership of the party,” the source, a former provincial leader, said.
Mnangagwa and his lieutenants were recently forced to intervene after bloody battles that ended with the arrest of 15 police officers, who allegedly disrupted a meeting in Musana.
The officers were reportedly summoned to Harare on October 10 to explain to police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga what happened, after which they were reportedly called to State House.
Kazembe and Bindura South MP Remigio Matangira are said to have attended the meeting.
Mnangagwa later held a private meeting with Kazembe, Matangira, Matanga, Phiri and other top cops.
Meanwhile, attempts to rush district elections in Mashonaland West were met with dissent.
Reports said this week state security agents were reportedly deployed to bring order in the volatile Makonde and Zvimba districts where members quarrelled over the presence of ineligible voters.
The party postponed polls in Zvimba for seven days to pave the way for verification of structures.
Party sources said the military element within Zanu PF ordered the deployment of military intelligence personnel to bring the district to order.
“The leadership was faced with an embarrassing situation. It seems democracy does not reside within the former revolutionary party. Lawlessness is now being allowed to creep in at the expense of stability of the party, hence military intelligence operatives were deployed to manage the deteriorating situation,” a source said.
A contestant from Makonde said: “I got a call from someone who claimed that he was from the military intelligence warning me against challenging the voters’ list. They advised that l contest without questioning the voters roll or pull out of the race”.
Mashonaland West acting provincial chairperson Abiel Mujeri played down the political gamesmanship.
“There are in-house challenges, which cannot stop us from completing the restructuring exercise, we will sort them out. Elections will be held in those places after Hurungwe and Kariba where we are going on Friday (today),” he said.
Mujeri, is an alleged loyalist of former chairperson and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who has lately assumed the godfather figure in the province.
Also in contention for the post is Provincial Affairs and Devolution minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka.
Information deputy minister Kindness Paradza and provincial youth league chairperson Vengai Musengi are also eyeing the chair’s post.
In Manicaland, the re-emerging factions have led to intra-party violence.
Sources said the battle for control of the province is pitting national chairperson and Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage deputy minister Mike Madiro.
The sources indicated that central committee members Gertrude Mutandi, Clide Jani and Danmore Mambondiyani, who have publicly put up a spirited fight against Madiro are allegedly backed by Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Jani is rooting for the Dangamvura-Chikanga parliamentary seat while Mambondiyani is eyeing the provincial youth chairperson’s position.
However, this has not gone down well with Madiro, who is pushing to have businessman and central committee member Esau Mupfumi retain the vacant parliamentary seat left vacant following the recall of opposition legislator Prosper Mutseyami.
Madiro is also said to be pushing for Stanley Sakupwanya to occupy the powerful provincial youth post.
The province was rocked by violent clashes where Madiro was chased from district and provincial meetings by some youths.
Mambondiyani was arrested and appeared before the magistrate courts facing charges of gathering people with intent of causing violence.
Efforts to get comments from both Madiro and Mambondiyani were fruitless.
Meanwhile in Masvingo Zanu PF’s top dogs have locked horns as deep-rooted factional fights reached a tipping point.
The Independent established that serious factional torrents exploded over the past weeks, with a faction said to be linked to Chiwenga plotting to remove provincial chairperson, Ezra Chadzamira.
Sources claimed there is a plot to remove Chadzamira, who is also Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution, to make way for Zaka North legislator Robson Mavhenyengwa.
In an interview this week, Mavhenyengwa distanced himself from the political drama, saying “all the stories are lies”.
“Unfortunately, I am not in a position to respond,” Mavhenyengwa said.
“You can get in touch with the provincial chairperson Chadzamira.”
Chadzamira dismissed the reports as “nonsensical”.
“Before you even reach out to me for a comment, do you think the story is truthful? Have you run out of stories? There are some issues you should just dismiss before reaching out to me,” Chadzamira said.
The turmoil has forced the ruling party to suspend district and provincial elections.