PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is under pressure to act decisively to end the ugly infighting that has erupted in ZANU-PF to the detriment of economic targets set by the ruling party under the moribund Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that there has been heavy lobbying in the last two weeks by the two rival camps in ZANU-PF that are both desperate to bring the veteran nationalist on their side.
ZANU-PF insiders said President Mugabe has had enough of it and might, in the coming week, ring changes in his party to end the madness.
In the wake of the disruptive divisions rocking his party, the ZANU-PF leader is seen downgrading some of his high-ranking officials in order to tame their ambitions.
At the 2014 congress, the President was vested with appointing powers that gives him latitude to make sweeping changes to his party’s leadership if and when he so wishes.
ZANU-PF has always been split between two factions aiming to succeed President Mugabe whenever he exits office. This has been the case since the 1990s.
Until December 2014, the party was divided between cadres backing Joice Mujuru and those in support of Emmerson Mnangagwa. And when Mujuru was dismissed from ZANU-PF for attempting to unseat her boss, many thought the path had been cleared for Mnangagwa to take-over from the incumbent, but that path is now fraught with impediments.
Mnangagwa is now engaged in a vicious dogfight with a new group dubbed Generation 40 (G40), which is strongly opposed to his ascendance.
With President Mugabe now in the twilight of his political career, the infighting is now compromising the smooth functioning of government.
ZANU-PF insiders said President Mugabe can no longer afford his softly-softly approach towards the wrangles considering the cost it could have on his party’s re-election bid.
Even more worrying to the incumbent is the possibility of a coalition among the country’s opposition parties, which requires ZANU-PF to go to the polls more united than ever before.
This week, Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) raised the stakes by suggesting that the solution to the crisis, arising out of what is taking place in the governing party, lies in the “establishment of the National Transitional Authority (NTA)”.
“The NTA would create a win-win situation for ordinary Zimbabweans, where stability and peace are reconciled with the imperators of social reconstruction, economic recovery and development,” said PDP national chairperson, Lucia Matibenga.
Political analysts this week said due to the complex nature of the current spate of factionalism in ZANU-PF, it was highly unlikely that President Mugabe will parachute Mnangagwa as he did Mujuru despite the fact that his own wife, Grace Mugabe, has pitched her tent in the anti Mnangagwa camp.
Political scientist, Ibbo Mandaza, said what is happening in ZANU-PF now is an open war, which required careful handling.
“It’s clear there is an implosion in the party. It’s an open warfare which we have repeatedly warned about before. (President) Mugabe needs to handle this one with utmost care. He might rein in the situation by leaving Mnangagwa for now, while hitting such soft targets as the Mutsvangwas.
“The principle is that if you go for soft targets, the consequences would be minimal than if you axe someone of Mnangagwa’s standing,” said Mandaza.
Christopher Mutsvangwa is the chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association and a key ally of Mnangagwa.
He is currently in trouble for disrespecting the First Family; charges many feel could have been engineered by the rival G40.
Mandaza said the current problems in the ruling party were a direct result of the creation of the concept of one centre of power “which is meant to ensure that President Mugabe rules for life and leaves the succession question to remaining party leaders in the event that he dies in office”.
Party insiders this week said G40 has now descended on the grassroots where it seeks to get rid of Mnangagwa’s allies in the lower levels.
Principally targeted are cell, district and provincial leaders whom the camp wants pushed out of the party in the next few weeks, signalling yet another round of votes of no confidences and expulsions in the offing.
Saviour Kasukuwere, ZANU-PF’s national political commissar, said district chairpersons aligned to Mnangagwa, particularly those in Midlands, Mashonaland East and Masvingo provinces where Mnangagwa has dominance, would be purged.
Already, the Local Government Minister has unilaterally jettisoned three provincial chairmen of those provinces in a move seen by many as meant to pave way for further suspensions.
The three — Kizito Chivamba, Joel Biggie Matiza and Ezra Chadzamira have, however, scoffed at the dismissals, saying they were a nullity since they were done without following proper party procedures.
According to the ZANU-PF constitution, a provincial executive member is given a vote of no confidence by a simple majority of the executive if they are not happy with his or her conduct.
The case is then forwarded to the National Disciplinary Committee for a hearing before being transferred to the Politburo, which would then seal the official’s fate if satisfied by the process.
The trio is arguing that the procedure was never followed. They, instead, want Kasukuwere censured for allegedly violating the constitution.
Political analyst, Alois Masepe, said the implosion in ZANU-PF was a result of lack of a clear succession plan in the party.
“It is a golden rule that any organisation must have a succession plan. This one centre of power concept is just a myth which is brewing all these nasty fights. You cannot say a President at the top is the sole centre of power when you have other structures with leaders in them. There will be power in the districts and provinces and these will constitute themselves into lobby groups as we are witnessing right now. That’s a natural phenomenon,” said Masepe.
“This time around, the situation is really out of hand. He (President Mugabe) used to pit one faction against the other and play peacemaker in the end. It used to work well for him in the past, but now that the end is nigh, the succession fight heightens and eager factions are sprinting towards the finishing line now. It’s a crisis of expectation which is obtaining,” added Masepe.
Another political scientist, Nhamo Mhiripiri, said the situation has gone so bad that only a congress can solve it.
“The entire party needs to accept that things have gone terribly wrong and that it needs to shape out its future now. In such a situation, pure civilian decisions are necessary. It is therefore prudent for it (ZANU-PF) to convene an early congress which will spell that future out,” he said.
Mashonaland East, the Midlands and Masvingo provinces became a special G40 target after Eunice Sandi-Moyo, who is deputy secretary for Women’s Affairs, reported to President Mugabe at a meeting just before last week’s Politburo meeting that militant youths had blocked some women who wanted to come for the event, hastily organised to ostensibly celebrate the President’s tenure as African Union chairman.
At a recent rally in Chiweshe, the First Lady gave a clear hint which direction the wind would be blowing when she appeared to indirectly chide Mnangagwa, whom she said had complained in the Politburo meeting two days earlier about the numerous votes of no-confidence.
“You are now complaining about the too many votes of no confidence saying this had never happened in the party before, but you deliberately forget that you were smiling when they were being given to others,” she said referring to the initial revolution that kicked Mujuru out.
G40 is reported to be particularly excited by a resolution by the Women’s League in which they are demanding the restoration of the balance of power between men and women in the party’s presidium before December.
Currently, the presidium, comprising President Mugabe and his co-deputies Mnangagwa and PhelekezelaMphoko, is all male. And the women hope to arm-twist President Mugabe to appoint a woman in the presidium, reportedly at Mnangagwa’s expense.
But they will still have to lobby for an amendment to the party constitution for the second time in as many years to re-insert the women’s quota clause, which was plucked out to facilitate Mnangagwa’s rise.
Interestingly, the same clause was hastily introduced in 2004 to block Mnangagwa when he was initially set for the top job, giving rise to Mujuru.
The latest round of purges would undo the intricate restructuring exercise which the ruling party spent the better part of last year undertaking.
This means much more effort would be required to bring the party back to order as it cannot afford to go into the potentially defining 2018 elections divided.
The purging would not be carried out easily, sources said, as Mnangagwa’s backers are lining up a defence of their own.
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