An open rebellion has broken out between Zanu PF factions over the control of provincial structures as the war to succeed President Robert Mugabe intensifies, with Masvingo and Midlands emerging as the battleground.
By Xolisani Ncube/Stephen Chadenga
A faction linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been accused of plotting to reinstate suspended provincial leaders against Zanu PF politburo resolutions as it tries to win back the momentum seized by G40.
Masvingo set the ball rolling last week after Zanu PF heavyweights linked to Mnangagwa “reinstated” suspended provincial chairman Ezra Chadzamira while Midlands brought back Kizito Chivamba back to its provincial structures yesterday.
To demonstrate the gravity of the fights, acting Masvingo provincial chairperson Amasa Nenjana has claimed that the plot to replace him with Chadzamira was hatched at a controversial party hosted by Mnangagwa at his Zvishavane homestead on December 31 last year.
The event, now dubbed the “mug party” sparked infighting in Zanu PF after the VP was photographed drinking from a cup inscribed “I am the boss”.
Mnangagwa was accused of plotting to unseat Mugabe and this Masvingo infighting is likely to reveal more about the battle to succeed Zimbabwe’s long-serving ruler.
Nenjana last week told The Standard that he was forced to attend the meeting where Chadzamira’s return was announced after he was informed it was meant to discuss victory celebrations for Bikita West constituency.
“It is a Lacoste project that was decided at the ‘mug meeting,’” he said.
“They are planning to replace all the provincial chairpersons with their proxies starting with Masvingo, then Midlands and Mashonaland East where their people were fired,” he said.
“To show that it was a factional agenda, even Lacoste loyalists like Pupurai Togarepi who were fired from the party were sitting at the high table and were identified as politburo members.
“The reason why they want me out is that we reported Hungwe to President Mugabe and we were all summoned toState House, followed by a meeting in Chiredzi.
“[Josiah] Hungwe was not happy and he had continuously attacked me for that, saying the president would never do anything to them.”
Zanu PF commissarSaviour Kasukuwere said the party would investigate circusmstances that led to resolution made at a meeting convened by politburo members, Josiah Hungwe and Shuvai Mahofa that saw the province reinstating Chadzamira.
Chadzamira was suspended last year among a host of other provincial leaders for allegedly advancing the interests of a faction linked to Mnangagwa.
“The Masvingo issue will require a detailed enquiry into the circumstances that led to such an unfortunate outcome,” Kasukuwere told The Standard last night.
“Efforts to undermine party decisions will not be tolerated and no amount of organized confusion will be allowed to stand.
Hungwe confirmed last week that he convened a meeting that endorsed Chadzamira’s return.
Before the meeting, party secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo had written a letter to Chadzamira telling him that he was now an ordinary card carrying member as per a resolution of the politburo.
“The letter by secretary for administration is self-explanatory and Cde Nenjana remains in charge in Masvingo,” Kasukuwere said,
“Any decisions contrary to politburo guidance are null and void.
“We expect senior leaders in the provinces to provide appropriate guidance and when in doubt they should refer to appropriate departments for clarification,”
The crisis, according to Zanu PF members is now on the agenda for the fourth-coming politburo meeting and Hungwe could be thrown under the bus for causing the “confusion in the province”.
Mugabe, sources said, will have to make a decision on Hungwe whom some senior Zanu PF leaders accuse of being the source of the crisis.
“The Masvingo nonsense will have to be put to rest at that meeting because we can’t have people who do things in a manner that brings the party into disrepute,” a Zanu PF politburo member said.
“Chadzamira was given a letter by Chombo on December 15 and there has been no meeting thereof to change that.”
According to a letter written by Chombo on December 15 to Chadzamira: “Sitting at the 305th ordinary session on the 11th December 2016 at Zanu PF headquarters, the politburo endorsed the national disciplinary ommittee’s (NDC) decision that you be relieved of your position as provincial chairman of Masvingo province.
“The import of this ruling is that you revert to being an ordinary card carrying member and continue to enjoy all the rights of a member of Zanu PF party, provided for in Article 3 Section 20 of the amended Zanu PF party constitution.”
But Chadzamira, after the reinstatement meeting, dismissed Chombo’s letter saying the party’s provincial executive committee brought him back to the fold because he was cleared by the NDC.
Another Zanu PF member said instead of doing an “illegal thing” Chadzamira should have appealed against the decision to the central committee and his case would have been heard by the team chaired by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
According to Zanu PF constitution, a lower party organ cannot overturn a ruling by t a higher body and when a member feels ill-treated, he/she has a right to appeal either to the central committee or the congress, which is the highest decision making body.
The Zanu PF constitution states that a decision of congress is final.
Besides that, the constitution allows for every politburo decision to be ratified by the central committee and records state that on December 12, the decision making body in between congresses sat and approved Chadzamira’s suspension together with two other chairpersons who were suspended along him.
After the announcement that Chadzamira had been reinstated by the provincial coordinating committee, the acting chairperson Nenjana immediately rejected the move.
A politburo member linked to the Mnangagwa camp was adamant that Chadzamira’s case was wrongly handled and the province was prepared to fight with Mugabe if removed him from the post.
“Masvingo is ready for a fight and we will not allow anyone to interfere with the decision made by the province. We want our chairman,” he said.
“The president should not be used to do wrong things by Kasukuwere and a few thugs who have hijacked the party.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF Midlands’ provincial coordinating committee yesterday picked the deputy provincial chair, Daniel Mackenzie Ncube as the substantive head taking over from politburo member Jorum Gumbo who has been acting since the ouster of Chivamba.
The meeting held in Gweru also named the former chair—Chivamba to be Ncube’s deputy, in a more like swap deal.
“Since last year we had an acting chairman and today (yesterday) we decided to put a substantive chairman and a motion was moved by Cde Owen Ncube to nominate Daniel Ncube to take over as substantive chairman and it was unanimously seconded,” Zanu PF provincial spokesperson, Cornelius Mpereri said after the meeting.
“Cde Elina Shirichena, our provincial women’s league chairperson then nominated Cde Chivamba as vice chairman and again the decision was unanimously seconded.”
Chivamba was suspended in February last year along with other provincial chairpersons who were accused of blocking party members from travelling to Harare to welcome Mugabe who was coming home from his annual leave in the Middle East.
However, he challenged d the allegations, which observers say were mainly pushed by factional fights in Zanu PF.
The suspension was lifted leading to his co-option in the party’s provincial executive yesterday.
Mugabe who turns 93 on February 21 wants to stand for another term in next year’s elections.