FRESH turmoil has hit Zanu PF in Matabeleland where Vice-President John Nkomo and Mines minister Obert Mpofu are involved in a power struggle that has sucked in regional bigwigs Jonathan Moyo, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Jacob Mudenda.
The party has been hit by suspensions and plots by both Nkomo and Mpofu to position their lieutenants in powerful posts in the region, in what sources said was part of a wider Zanu PF succession battle.
Sources said key in Mpofu’s camp are Moyo and former Matabeleland North chairman Mudenda, while Ndlovu, Sithembiso Nyoni, Sithokozile Mathuthu and Cain Mathema are working with Nkomo to stop the spread of Mpofu’s influence in the region.
Moyo, a central committee member and Mpofu ally, is being positioned for the Matabeleland North provincial chairmanship, where the incumbent, Zenzo Ncube, is viewed as an associate of Nkomo.
Ncube told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that he was aware of the plot. Moyo’s constituency, Tsholotsho, which is in Matabeleland North, was the alleged centre of a 2004 unsuccessful plot to change the Zanu PF leadership and the province has once again become a battleground.
Ncube told the Independent that Mudenda, a central committee member, and Moyo were baying for his blood despite the fact he was the one who “pleaded with Nkomo”, who was party chairman then, to accept the duo back into the party after they were in trouble for masterminding the 2004 Tsholotsho declaration.
“They (Obert Mpofu and Jonathan Moyo) want to remove me from power. It’s sad that the same people I fought for to be accepted back in Zanu PF are despising me,” said an emotional Ncube in a telephone interview from Binga yesterday.
“The central committee members held a meeting at York House (Bulawayo) and indicated that they want to push me out of office.”
Ncube accused Mpofu and Moyo of orchestrating a meeting last month at the Mines minister’s York House offices in Bulawayo, where they asked Ncube to step down. Under normal circumstances, Zanu PF meetings are held at provincial offices.
The meeting was allegedly attended by Zanu PF central committee members linked to Mpofu who include his wife Sikhanyisiwe, Fati Mpofu, Melly Nkomo, Rebecca Fameli and Josephine Moyo, while those aligned to Nkomo such as Sithembiso Nyoni, Sithokozile Mathuthu, Cain Mathema and Samuel Mgande boycotted the meeting.
At the meeting, the Mpofu-aligned central committee members allegedly resolved to replace Ncube with Jonathan Moyo.
Nkomo, who was not present at the meeting, is reportedly resisting the move and is fighting back, the sources said.
In vengeance, Nkomo then drew a dagger against Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairman Isaac Dakamela who belongs to the Mpofu camp. Dakamela was suspended from the party on Sunday although he has refused to move from his position. The Bulawayo provincial chairman was suspended after politburo, central committee and national consultative assembly members in Matabeleland agreed that Dakamela’s alleged theft of cows and insulting Nkomo were good enough reasons for his dismissal.
The firing and attempted change of influential provincial chairpersons, Zanu PF insiders say, has been used as a stage to fight for personal political aggrandisement by Nkomo and Mpofu. The two leading politicians from Matabeleland clashed last year as they competed for the position of party vice-president.
Mpofu yesterday declined to speak to the Independent.
“I told you I don’t talk to the Independent,” Mpofu said curtly. When a second call was made to him, the minister retorted: “What kind of language do you understand?”
Nkomo could not be reached for comment at time of going to press.
Moyo confirmed that he participated in the York House meeting, but insisted that the gathering was convened by Mpofu “who is the most senior central committee member and politburo member in Matabeleland North province”.
Moyo accused Ncube of incompetence and failure to articulate party programmes, resulting in Matabeleland North ranked the least performer out of the country’s 10 provinces.
Moyo yesterday said: “Why would I be a village pumpkin yet I am a central committee member? I don’t want to be a provincial chairperson because being a central committee member is a higher rank?” said the former Information minister who rejoined Zanu PF last year.
“We met at York House to look at problems bedevilling the party in Matabeleland North and the number one problem is the chairman (Ncube),” Moyo said. “He is ineffective and is even failing to sell party cards in the villages. The central committee members told Ncube of his ineffective leadership.
They all agreed that the chairman is not working well because you will never hear of a party programme in Matabeleland North. The bottom line is that Ncube has poor leadership qualities and I don’t think it’s a crime for central committee members to express that they are not happy with the chairman.”
Commenting on the problems dogging the party, Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, said the firing of Dakamela and attempts by Mpofu and Moyo to ouster Ncube were “a storm in a tea cup”.
“Everything is under control. It was a whirlwind, but we are in control of the situation,” he said.
Matabeleland North nominated Nkomo and Mpofu for the vice-presidency while Mpofu was disqualidied in Bulawayo, which chose Nkomo for the post.