THE Zanu PF succession struggle took centre stage at a party meeting in Lupane when over 50 women from the Women’s League staged a demonstration on Saturday against Minister of Industry and Trade, Obert Mpofu, allegedly at the instigation of two senior
members of the party who are front runners in the race.
Mpofu, together with Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa, and Simon Khaya Moyo, are seen as front runners to replace Vice-President Joseph Msika when he retires.
Jockeying for the position has intensified with hostile camps emerging in Matabeleland where two senior party leaders have teamed up against potential contenders for the position.
Just last week State Security minister Didymus Mutasa was dispatched to Matabeleland to solve a brewing crisis over the allocation of land to white commercial farmers as it emerged that political heavyweights were doing so to spite their opponents.
However, the issue blew up on Saturday when a group of Zanu PF women staged a protest against Mpofu after he allegedly challenged the return of land to white commercial farmers in his constituency only to discover that the farmers were backed by two senior politicians.
The demonstration occurred just before a planned Zanu PF provincial co-coordinating committee meeting in Lupane in Matabeleland North.
The women stormed the meeting and started singing songs denouncing Mpofu whom they accused of undermining senior political leaders and party members in the province.
Mpofu, who is the Minister of Industry and International Trade and also MP for Bubi-Umguza, was not present when the demonstration took place as he was said to be in China on business.
Zanu PF party members, including Bubi-Umguza senator Lot Mbambo, left the venue of the meeting when the demonstration began.
A Zanu PF member, Timothy Mnkandla, who witnessed the demonstration, told the Zimbabwe Independent that the situation was brought under control by the provincial chairman, Headman Moyo, who called for a closed meeting to discuss the women’s concerns.
“The situation in Matabeleland has become tense as there is jockeying for Msika’s position and there are serious smear campaigns going on currently,” Mnkandla said.
Among the demonstrating women were senators for Tsholotsho, Josephine Moyo and Hwange East Grace Dube.
A source in Zanu PF said there was a serious plot against Mpofu in the province and alleged that the women were acting on the instructions of two senior politicians who are front runners to succeed Msika when he leaves office.
“Senior party leaders in the province have vowed that Mpofu should never be a replacement for Msika since he was no longer a PF-Zapu member when the Unity Accord was signed in 1987,” said the source.
“The situation is tense as other people who include Matabeleland North governor, Sithokozile Mathuthu, have been drawn in the battle against Mpofu,” the source said.
Mathuthu scoffed at the allegations that she was against anybody in the province when she was not present when the demonstration against Mpofu began.
“Frankly speaking I have no agenda against anyone and I cannot comment on the demonstration in Lupane since I arrived when the women were demonstrating and you should ask the women what they were demonstrating about,” Mathuthu said.
Mpofu was reportedly out of the country at the time of going to press.