PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe (pictured) will stamp his authority in Zanu PF to end defiance and public spats between his top lieutenants who are fighting over the on-going provincial elections, it has emerged.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
This comes in the wake of reports of intensifying fights in the party as different factions position themselves for the eventual succession of 89-year-old Mugabe.
One faction is said to be linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru and another one reportedly loyal to Justice Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa. But Mnangagwa is now said to have joined a new faction dubbed Mugabe Five Year Team whose members include Zimbabwe Defence Force commander, Constantine Chiwenga, Local Government minister, Ignatious Chombo and Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa and is aimed at ensuring Mugabe completes his term of office.
Sources said Mugabe was angry at not being officially informed of the election results particularly in Mashonaland Central where officials allegedly rushed to announce the outcome of the polls before briefing him first.
“Mugabe only got to know of the Mashonaland Central results on television, yet all the other members of the presidium were briefed before. Protocol requires that Mugaacbe must be briefed before an issue becomes public,” said an official close to the party.
He said Mugabe had also not been informed of a new committee set up to supervise the remaining elections in seven provinces.
The committee is chaired by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and comprises Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa and national commissar, Webster Shamu.
“The reading we are getting from the President [Mugabe] is that elections must be stopped so that sanity and order are restored,” said the official. “Moreover these committee members are an interested part.”
But he said the committee was going ahead preparing for the elections.
“To us this is again an open defiance of Mugabe. It appears that there is a rush to conclude the elections before the President returns from Asia on 24 November so that he will come back to only endorse the outcome,” said the official.
But a Politburo member linked to the Mujuru faction said elections could not be stopped just because of the absence of Mugabe.
“Zanu PF does not belong to one individual,” quipped the Politburo member.
He said Mugabe’s decision to swear in former Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana as the new Prosecutor-General, just before he left the country last week, was part of his strategy to rein in errant and corrupt leaders.
“Some of the officials including cabinet ministers might not be with us at next month’s national people’s conference as they face arrest for various crimes,” said the official.
He said Mugabe often joked during politburo and cabinet meetings that officials who defy him should consider forming their own parties, meaning that he could be serious about the issue.
Other sources said the provincial elections have also seen a serious clash between the Zanu PF commissariat department led by retired Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena and some party bigwigs. An official said Muchena was resisting attempts by some bigwigs to bar certain popular individuals from contesting.
ZANU PF OPERATES SEPARATELY FROM GOVT: GUMBO
The fights in Zanu PF climaxed last week when presidential spokesperson George Charamba and Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo issued contradicting statements over the elections in Mashonaland Central won by Luke Mushore.
While Charamba said the politburo was yet to receive a report on the elections, Gumbo said the opposite. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister, Jonathan Moyo weighed in, in support of Charamba and warning Gumbo against insubordination.
Gumbo yesterday said he stood by his statement. He said Charamba and the Ministry of Information had no right to meddle in Zanu PF affairs as the party operated separately from government.
“I am spokesperson for the party and when I issue a statement these will not be my personal views. I consult the relevant departments and officials,” he said.
Gumbo said he would not defy Mugabe and accused Charamba of employing “tricks” in order to create a rift between himself and Mugabe.
“Those are tricks to try and create a rift between me and the president. But we (him and Mugabe) know each other, we have been in this game for a long time from the 1960s, I would never defy the president because I speak for the party.”
On the issue of the Mujuru-headed committee which is now supervising the elections, Gumbo said he was only instructed to announce it. Gumbo said results in Mashonaland Central were announced just like it was done in Midlands and Manicaland and there was no deliberate effort to by-pass Mugabe.