HARARE – Fireworks are expected when the warring ruling Zanu PF’s politburo meets in Harare today — to deal with last month’s hotly-contested party election results in Masvingo, as well as the ugly infighting which is ripping apart provincial youth structures in the capital and in Bulawayo.
Well-placed party sources who spoke to the Daily News yesterday confirmed that emotions were running high ahead of the gathering, as Zanu PF’s deadly tribal, factional and succession wars continue to intensify — giving President Robert Mugabe many a sleepless nights.
Indeed, today’s politburo meeting comes as the ruling party’s two major factions — the Generation 40 (G40) group, which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, and Team Lacoste (the VP’s camp) — have escalated their fights ever since the nonagenarian gave his traditional birthday interview to the ZBC, on the eve of his 93rd birthday last month, in which he rubbished all his lieutenants’ leadership credentials and their chances of succeeding him.
At the weekend, the two factions were fingered in ugly disturbances which rocked Bulawayo youth league structures, with Team Lacoste-aligned executive members quitting their posts in protest against alleged poor leadership — leaving the regional committee without enough members to constitute a quorum.
In the process, Zanu PF youth league secretary Kudzanai Chipanga — who is linked to the G40 — was accused by his party foes of illegally co-opting members to fill the void left by the 15 officials who resigned, in breach of the party’s constitution.
And in similar chaos, the Harare youths passed a vote of no confidence on their chairperson, Edson Takataka, last week — in addition to calling for fresh elections, before Chipanga also reversed the decision.
While Chipanga told the Daily News yesterday that he was not privy to the agenda of today’s politburo meeting, he nevertheless insisted that his decisions in both Harare and Bulawayo were right and above board.
“The politburo agenda is given by the party secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, and so I don’t know what will be discussed.
“But concerning the youth league, we are always guided by our constitution which provides that when an executive member has either resigned, been suspended, expelled or died that he or she is replaced either by way of an election or co-option and that is what we did in Bulawayo.
“We cannot as a league play to the whims of an individual who is pursuing his own agenda using a Pakistani businessman in Bulawayo to provide funds to the youths in a bid to induce them to resign, hoping to cause the dissolution of the province and pave the way for fresh elections.
“However, they (the youths who resigned) failed to ensure that one third of the executive resigned, which is the number required to have a fresh election. I cannot dissolve a whole province simply because six people have resigned,” Chipanga said.
“You can’t just wake up as a grouping and attempt to change the party constitution overnight. This is not about personal discretion, it’s about what the law says,” he added.
One of the Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said fireworks were expected at today’s politburo meeting because the G40 allegedly wanted the party to “disown” the results of last month’s Masvingo provincial poll.
Then, alleged Team Lacoste kingpin Ezra Chadzamira, trounced G40-linked bigwig Mutero Masanganise in the provincial poll which was said to be inconclusive due to massive rains which prevented voting in some districts.
However, nearly 70 percent of the ballot had been cast by the time the rains prevented voting in 168 districts, including in both Chadzamira and Masangise’s home villages.
In the released results, Chadzamira crushed Masanganise, polling 12 393 votes against his opponent’s 4 888, amid allegations of rigging and failure by people in Mwenezi and some parts of Chiredzi to vote.
As if to complicate matters further, Masanganise, a war veteran and retired army colonel, is also said be related to Mugabe.
Chadzamira was suspended last year on charges of indiscipline and inciting insolence, as well as engaging in violence.
He was subsequently replaced in an acting capacity by Amasi Nenjana, who was said to have reluctantly pulled out of last month’s race to pave the way for Masanganise.
Mugabe and his senior party lieutenants have since been dithering about releasing the results of the poll formally — more concerned about diffusing rising political temperatures within the party in the volatile province.
It is now expected that today’s politburo meeting will finally determine the fate of the poll.
Some of the other thorny issues which are expected to be brought up for discussion include the alleged “indiscipline” of Team Lacoste members such as businessman-cum-politician Energy Mutodi.
Mutodi was at the beginning of this month hauled before the Mashonaland East disciplinary committee in the wake of his recent statements on the former liberation movement’s burning succession riddle.
The outspoken Mutodi, a self-confessed supporter of Mnangagwa, has been critical of Mugabe’s unwillingness to groom a successor — blaming the 93-year-old for allegedly fuelling Zanu PF’s ugly tribal, factional and succession wars.
Mutodi was slapped with a litany of charges by his Zanu PF comrades last month, weeks after images of him with Mnangagwa holding a coffee mug inscribed with the words “I Am The Boss” were made public.
Since those images surfaced, Mnangagwa’s party foes have gone to town about the issue, interpreting all this as his open statement that he harbours unbridled presidential ambitions.
Matters were not helped when Mutodi stoked the raging fires further, when he implored Zanu PF to hold a special congress to choose Mugabe’s successor.
He also claimed then that Mugabe had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that “99 percent” of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way that the nonagenarian could win elections against the popular opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Mugabe must retire. What we must be discussing now is how we share power in Zanu PF post-Mugabe.
“It’s up to Mugabe himself to be really thankful to his loyalists who have helped him to remain in power for this long and not the opportunists who praise him during the day and denigrate him during the night,” Mutodi said.
Also set to be discussed at today’s meeting is Zimbabwe’s quest to acquire biometric voter registration (BVR) kits, which has caused a huge storm among opposition political parties.
Controversy has erupted over the past few weeks, following the government’s sudden decision to sideline the UNDP from assisting in the procurement of the BVR kits, with unanswered questions being raised about how and where the stone-broke administration was able to secure funding for this, to the staggering tune of $17 million.
The opposition has alleged that the government is hijacking the process to rig next year’s eagerly-anticipated national elections.
However, on Monday State media appeared to suggest that Zanu PF is now reluctant to use the BVR kits ahead of next year’s polls.