TENSION is mounting within the deeply divided Zanu PF as different factions gear up for a fight to control the party’s youth and women’s leagues at congresses starting today and next Friday respectively.
The battle is between the factions led by kingpins, Emmerson Mnangagwa, regarded as a tough man worthy of the nickname “Ngwena” (Crocodile) within Zanu PF’s inner circles and retired army commander Solomon Mujuru, who is not interested in becoming president but who wants to be the power behind the throne, controlling its incumbent.
The third camp, supposedly aligned to President Robert Mugabe with Saviour Kasukuwere and Nicholas Goche pulling the strings, has gone into a marriage of convenience with Mujuru, to block the ascendancy of Mnangagwa’s group, sources said.
The heated succession battle has moved to the youth wing’s conference that starts in Harare today and the women’s league conference scheduled for next Friday, as Zanu PF prepares for its congress in December.
The jockeying has of late been taking place at all levels of the party and it was even evident at elections to choose provincial leadership for the women and youth wings.
Dirty and underhand play is being used to discredit opponents at whatever cost. One thing is certain: the battle for supremacy will be fierce. The two main camps mirror the political divide between Mugabe’s Zezuru sub-group, which occupies the Mashonaland Central, East and West provinces and the most populous Shona group, the Karanga, which mainly occupies Masvingo and Midlands provinces in the south and who have roped in the Manyikas.
Battle lines have been drawn at the youth congress, with Kasukuwere trying to push his list of people, including his brother Tongai, into top positions. However, there seems to be fierce resistance among some ordinary delegates who believe that Tongai intends to rise on his brother’s ticket.
A top official in the youth league told the Zimbabwe Independent that ordinary voters were likely to reject some names being proposed by Kasukuwere’s camp, whose list was leaked to youths during accreditation yesterday.
“Kasukuwere thinks that since he is in the youth league, he has a lot of influence. He also thinks that he can use money to get his line-up in,” the official said. “But unfortunately the ordinary members, who are the voters, know that “madhara madhara” (the bigwigs) are Ngwena (Mnangagwa) and his people. It is common knowledge in Zanu PF that Mnangagwa is the man with the power at the moment. The names being proposed will not be accepted without resistance.”
While, Shurugwi South MP Annastancia Ndhlovu, backed by Kasukuwere and Goche, is now being challenged by Tionei Dziva and Farai Machaya, also from Midlands and said to be in Mnangagwa’s camp.
According to a line-up circulated yesterday at Zanu PF headquarters, the deputy secretary position would go to Midlands, finance to Mashonaland Central, administration to Matabeleland South, security to Mashonaland East, commissariat to Mashonaland West and external affairs to Manicaland.
Tongai Kasukuwere and a Kanengoni would fight it out for the finance position, while sons of Deputy Public Service Minister Andrew Langa and former deputy foreign affairs minister Abedinico Ncube want the administration position.
Kadoma Senator Chiratidzo Gava’s son Mike is being fielded for the commissariat, while Manicaland-based musician Joshua Sacco wants external affairs.
The youths in Zanu PF’s 10 provinces have only nominated Mugabe and are still to nominate other members of the presidium, with Masvingo having publicly said that they no longer want Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo at the helm of the party. Â
Meanwhile, fireworks are also expected at the women’s league congress with a clash between Mutoko South MP and politburo member Olivia Muchena, Mutoko North MP Mabel Chinomona and Marondera East MP Tracy Mutinhiri for the deputy secretary position.
Sources in the league say, although Chinomona was Mutoko district’s choice, she was now being outmanoeuvred by Muchena, who is using her politburo position.
Muchena is in the Mujuru camp, while Chinomona has the backing of Mnanagwa.
Although Oppah Muchinguri is not up for election, because her position of secretary for the Women’s League is by appointment, she has reportedly clashed with Vice President Joice Mujuru, who sees her as a threat to her position.
Muchinguri has, however, said she was not vying for Mujuru’s position of vice president.
But the tension is so obvious at any Zanu PF gathering and there are reports of Mujuru trying to put down Muchinguri at every occasion.Â Â Â