BULAWAYO – The political careers of embattled Zanu PF women’s league heavyweights, Sarah Mahoka and Eunice Sandi Moyo, now appear dead in the water after the league’s provincial chairpersons — supported by militant youths — staged yet another big demonstration against the duo in Bulawayo yesterday.
This prompted a senior Zanu PF official to tell the Daily News yesterday that the two women were now “down and out” as the warring ruling party allegedly puts “the final nails in their political coffins”.
“Take it from me, these two ladies, just like what happened to Runaida (former Vice President Joice Mujuru) are down and out. The party is putting the final nails in their political coffins,” the politburo member said.
Other party insiders told the Daily News that the latest mega demonstration against the duo was in response to the alleged “disdain” which Sandi-Moyo had shown towards powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe through the “ill-advised” press conference which she had held on Thursday to respond to the allegations against the duo.
Then, an emotional Sandi-Moyo told the media at her hastily-arranged press briefing that she would only resign or leave the warring ruling party at the express insistence of President Robert Mugabe who had appointed her as a minister and Zanu PF politburo member.
This, the well-placed Zanu PF sources said, had been interpreted as a declaration that she was prepared to fight Grace and her other rivals in both the women’s league and the party generally.
Against this background, angry members of the women’s league, including all provincial chairpersons, descended on Sandi-Moyo’s offices in Bulawayo yesterday where they roundly denounced the 70-year-old and Mahoka in what was variously described as a “final push” to have the two summarily expelled from the former liberation movement.
“What is important is to follow the party’s rules, what is important is to build the party and not destroy it. What we have done here is to prepare for the forthcoming 2018 elections.
“We should by all means respect our first lady, Amai Grace Mugabe. All those who came here from all over the country, we need to thank you because you have shown that it is important to unite and remove the chaff in the house,” women’s league national executive member, Judith Ncube, told the gathering.
“I think we have done enough in terms of demonstrating how as the women’s league we are against these people.
“We need not say anymore, as you can see, provincial leaders came all the way from their respective areas just to send this bold message to the powers that be,” weighed in another women’s league member, Martha Musharukwa.
But the defiant Sandi-Moyo was nowhere in sight as the women and youths demonstrated against her.
Problems for Sandi-Moyo and the vocal Mahoka boiled into the open on Wednesday when they were stunned by countrywide demonstrations against them by irate party members, amid claims that the two women — once seen as close allies of Grace — were now undermining the influential first lady, in addition to facing charges that they also allegedly embezzled party funds.
Mahoka, who is famed for having publicly dressed down Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in front of Mugabe last year, is the women’s league treasurer while Sandi-Moyo is Grace’s deputy.
Sandi-Moyo held her press conference the following day and declared that she was going nowhere unless she was recalled by Mugabe.
“What your saw yesterday (Wednesday’s demos), I cannot answer for because I have not been told where this is emanating from . . . it shows that there is somebody somewhere who wants to create bad blood between me and the first lady.
“Someone is trying to create a rift between me and the first lady, but I want to tell that person that I am not moved at all.
“If the president still wants me in office I will continue with my job. I will focus on Bulawayo until the president says go and rest,” she said.
“Why should I contest the first lady. Why? I am the one who was going with her around, so I can’t contest her. It’s not possible.
“I am 70 years old and I don’t have a reason to fight for any further position. I am okay with my position,” the visibly rattled provincial minister added.
“Is it really possible (to remove the first lady) . . . those are very impossible things even if I wished to do so.
“The people of Bulawayo respect the first lady so much and I can never go against them even if I wished to do so.
“So, anybody who has got that dream, who wants to use that to get rid of me, it’s his or her luck. The owner of that project (of removing her) is the one who should be worried about funding and other stuff, not me,” Sandi-Moyo also said.
While she would not name who was behind the demonstrations, she said it was clear “someone, somewhere” wanted her gone.
Zanu PF insiders have told the Daily News that the events of the past few days were “very significant” as they were likely to have serious ramifications in the party’s deadly succession brawls, which have gone a notch higher ever since Mugabe’s 93rd birthday interview with the ZBC, in which the nonagenarian appeared to slam the door shut on ambitious party bigwigs angling to succeed him.
The key women’s league has been closely linked to a party faction going by the name Generation 40 (G40), which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
In February last year, Mahoka, brazenly heckled Mnangagwa — calling the stunned VP in front of Mugabe and other bigwigs a lame duck.
Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo were also among the group of women’s league members who have been aggressively pushing for the revival of the debate about the need for a woman to become one of Zanu PF’s two vice presidents.
Their calls for a woman to be elevated to the presidency was seen as directed against Mnangagwa, as the appointment of the other current VP, Phelekezela Mphoko, was part of the conditions of the country’s unity accord which resulted in the post of the second VP being reserved for senior former Zapu officials.
Meanwhile, local think tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), has warned that Mugabe was now increasingly failing to hold Zanu PF together, as evidenced by the party’s worsening mindless bloodletting.
“The casual ingredient in the disintegration of hegemonic parties such as Zanu PF which could possibly lead to its electoral loss is not primarily predicted on external opposition from other political parties or civil society and international pressure, but internal fissures.
“It now appears that every organ of Zanu PF is in turmoil . . . the prevailing fragmentation, especially the fights in the women and youth leagues threaten the heart and soul of Zanu PF,” ZDI said.
With some provinces such as Masvingo recently defying Mugabe openly, the think-tank said the worsening divisions in the ruling party had now also extended to the State and the military — the latter for long the bulwark of Zanu PF’s hegemonic rule.
“Furthermore and fundamentally, due to State-party conflation, the discord in Zanu PF has affected external organs that have always been the shock-troopers of Zanu PF such as the State bureaucracy, the military and coercive apparatus of the State, including war veterans and party youth militia.
“The hostilities, contradictions and fragmentation in the security apparatus of the State, mainly around the issue of succession coupled with the incapacity of the centre to hold, are Zanu PF litmus tests and principal drivers to its fragmentation, which could lead to possible electoral loss.
“It can be argued that Zanu PF was stronger in 2008 even though it lost the general election then, compared to its current state,” ZDI added.