CO-HOME Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi is now heavily tipped to become Zanu PF national chairman if incumbent John Nkomo moves up to replace the late vice-president Joseph Msika at the party’s congress in December.
This comes amid reports that some party heavyweights were also positioning themselves to land influential positions in the politburo in a move calculated to sway President Robert Mugabe’s succession.
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that there was a growing list of candidates in the race to replace Msika and possibly the chairperson if he is elected vice-president.
The sources said there was also serious jostling for the post of national commissar that was left vacant after the death of Elliot Manyika last December.
The sources said besides Mohadi, another politburo member, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, was also angling for either the vice-presidency or the chairmanship.
Those in the running for either the vice-presidency or the chairmanship include Nkomo, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Deputy Senate Speaker Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu and politburo member Obert Mpofu.
There have also been efforts to rope in former Zanu PF politburo heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa who quit the party last year in protest against Mugabe’s rule.
Informed sources said there was pressure on Zanu PF strongman Emmerson Mnangagwa and secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa from their camps for them to enter the race and seize the opportunity to rise into the presidium.
Sources said after a series of consultations last week, influential Zanu PF officials were now lobbying for Mohadi to become chairman.
The sources said Mohadi is now preferred ahead of Simon Khaya Moyo because he has been a pillar of strength for his party in the middle of a sweeping political wave triggered by the MDC since 2000.
Mohadi has always managed to grind victory for Zanu PF since the 1987 Unity Accord in his Beitbridge political enclave which he seized as PF Zapu from the old Zanu in 1985.
“Mohadi is now racing ahead because he has history as PF Zapu on his side and has been strong in the party. He managed to rescue Beitbridge from the MDC at a time when the whole of Matabeleland had switched away from Zanu PF. Besides, he has also shown willingness to forgive despite being one of the most harassed and tortured politicians during the Gukurahundi,” one of the sources said.
Mohadi was arrested, detained in solitary confinement and tortured with a number of PF Zapu heavyweights, including Dabengwa, Lookout Masuku, Edward Ndlovu and Welshman Mabhena.
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu on August 16 followed others in using the state media as a campaign platform. He wrote an article in the Sunday Mail in which he positioned himself as a contender. Cain Mathema and SK Moyo have already done that.
Sources said besides the fight to get into the presidium, some party bigwigs were eyeing the influential national commissar’s post.
This is despite a push in the party to restructure the commissariat by creating three clusters in the department – the main wing, the youth wing and the special projects clusters.
“The proposal will see three senior party members heading each cluster in the commissariat,” one of the sources said. “The proposal will result in the appointment of three commissars to mobilise support for the party.”
However, the sources said the proposal would be resisted by party bigwigs who want their loyalists to occupy the post and influence power relations in the party.
The commissariat department is considered very influential in Zanu PF because of its power to supervise all organs of the party, formulate strategies for the implementation of the party’s political programme and to organise, supervise and conduct party elections at all levels.
The sources said a faction backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru wants either ministers Nicholas Goche or Saviour Kasukuwere to become national commissar.
Goche is current secretary for security in the politburo while Kasukuwere is the deputy secretary for youth.
Kasukuwere has gone into an alliance with the Mujuru faction allegedly meant to scuttle the ascendancy of Mnangagwa into the presidium and his loyalists in any position of influence in the party.
“The Mujuru faction’s position is that if Goche becomes national commissar, Kasukuwere should be the secretary for security, and vice-versa,” a senior Zanu PF member said.
The sources said the Mujuru faction was also pushing to have war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda as deputy national commissar.
Sibanda is linked to the Mnangagwa faction, which played a crucial role in Mugabe’s bloody re-election campaign last year.
Also tipped to become national commissar is Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha who is reportedly close to Mugabe and is not tainted by the factional fighting in Zanu PF.
Acting national commissar Naison Ndlovu is also in the race for the post.
The sources, however, said it was “entirely and solely” up to Mugabe to appoint members of the politburo.
Zanu PF, the sources said, wanted to revamp the commissariat by injecting new blood to strategise how the party can be renewed and win the support of the electorate.
The department, under Manyika, was blamed for Zanu PF’s defeat by MDC in the March 2008 harmonised elections after it failed to effectively campaign for the party and Mugabe.
A report tabled in the politburo recently by acting commissar Ndlovu revealed that the party had no solid structures throughout the country and that it would not win future polls. Mugabe ordered the withdrawal of the report saying it was now a national security matter.