SWEEPING changes are expected to take place in Zanu PF’s youth and women’s leagues at their congresses in July and August that should result in former cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri being elected vice-president of the party at the main December congress ahead of Joice Mujuru who is accused of working with the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T.
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF told the Zimbabwe Independent that a faction in Zanu PF aligned to secretary for legal affairs Emmerson Mnangagwa has put in place an elaborate plan that would result in Mujuru losing her seat in the presidium in December and will also see the leadership of the youth league shaken up.
The sources said during the four-day women’s league congress starting on August 26, the Mnangagwa faction, using its control of at least six provinces, would elect Muchinguri as head of the organ ahead of fellow politburo member, Olivia Muchena who is aligned to retired army general Solomon Mujuru’s camp.
Solomon wants his wife Joice to succeed Mugabe.
“During the women’s league congress, Joice Mujuru is going to be denounced for allegedly working with Tsvangirai’s party and for furthering the political interests of her husband instead of those of the party,” one of the sources said. “Given the current power relations in Zanu PF, Muchinguri will beat Muchena for the leadership of the league at the congress.”
The sources said during the main congress, the Mnangagwa faction would push for the election of Muchinguri as vice-president of the party to replace Mujuru and if vice-president Joseph Msika resigns, current national chairman John Nkomo would succeed him.
Nkomo, the sources said, would be supported by the Mnangagwa faction for the post against Mines minister Obert Mpofu of the Mujuru camp.
The Independent last month revealed that Msika wanted to quit politics because of ill-health and intensifying power struggles in Zanu PF between the two factions and his restive former PF Zapu colleagues.
The Mnangagwa faction is reportedly in firm control of six of 10 Zanu PF provinces —— Masvingo, Midlands, Manicaland, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South ——enough to win the influential party post.
Mujuru, the sources said, has the backing of Mashonaland East, while Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West were reportedly divided on whom to back.
Elections are yet to be held in Harare to elect provincial leaders, but the province was likely to be headed by Mnangagwa’s faction that is reportedly backing Deputy Energy minister Hubert Nyanhongo to become chairperson ahead of ex-Mines minister Amos Midzi.
The sources said MPs aligned to the Mnangagwa faction this week started implementing their plan to weaken the Mujuru camp after the Zanu PF caucus on Wednesday rejected the election of the party’s Goromonzi legislator Beatrice Nyamupinga as chairperson of the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus.
The matter was referred back to the party’s women caucus because Nyamupinga was elected ahead of Zanu PF’s official candidate, Chimanimani Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, amid reports that Mujuru and her allies last month voted with Tsvangirai MPs against Mutsvangwa from the Mnangagwa camp.
The Independent reported last month on the gathering of momentum of political realignments involving Zanu PF and the MDC-T.
The move led to the manoeuvres to remove Mujuru by Mnangagwa’s faction and also sent shockwaves through the party in the run-up to the party’s crucial six-day congress that begins on December 8.
President Mugabe is likely to be re-elected for yet another five years as party leader because no one in his party is prepared to challenge him.
Muchinguri, the sources said, was also reportedly working on roping in First Lady Grace Mugabe to kick out Mujuru who came in 2004 with her backing.
Mujuru and Muchinguri, who were allies when the former beat Mnangagwa for the position of Zanu PF vice-president at the 2004 congress following the Tsholotsho political debacle, have fallen out and now belong to different camps in Zanu PF’s factional politics.
This has changed the complexion of the Zanu PF power struggle as members crisscross factional divides.
During a recent women’s league meeting held at the Zanu PF headquarters in the capital, Vice-President Mujuru came under intense fire from her rivals.
Former Deputy Youth minister Shuvai Mahofa reportedly led the charge, accusing Mujuru of destroying the party by fanning factionalism and working with the MDC-T.
Mahofa and other bigwigs in the women’s league are now reportedly campaigning full throttle for Mujuru’s ouster.
The sources said while Mnangagwa’s faction had an elaborate plan in place, the Mujuru camp was fighting back.
The Mujuru camp, the sources said, had come up with a team to fight for the retention of Joice as party vice-president and has been meeting regularly in the past weeks mapping out strategies to claw back lost ground.
Former provincial governors Ray Kaukonde and Ephraim Masawi, Nyamupinga, ex-deputy minister Joel Matiza, ex-minister David Parirenyatwa and Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Paddy Zhanda are reportedly some members of the team.
Muchena, the sources said, was picked by the Mujuru faction to challenge the leadership of Muchinguri at the August congress.
The sources said the leadership of the youth league would be overhauled to reflect the dominance of the Mnangagwa faction in Zanu PF.
Current youth secretary in the politburo Absolom Sikhosana and his deputy Savior Kasukuwere, the sources said, would have to step down in line with the party’s constitution that members of the league should be below 30 years of age.
“The whole youth leadership will go at the youth league congress,” a Zanu PF politburo member said. “We are going to have a new leadership predominantly coming from the Mnangagwa faction.”
Kasukuwere, sources said, has since confided in his party colleagues that he would be leaving the youth league and was hopeful of becoming a member of the party’s main wing.
The Youth minister and secretary for security in the politburo Nicholas Goche back Mugabe’s continued stay in office and were reportedly against either Mujuru or Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
Mujuru was instrumental in the appointment of Kasukuwere into cabinet by Mugabe.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE