HARARE – Zanu PF women’s league deputy secretary, Eunice Sandi Moyo, yesterday thumbed her nose at her fellow ruling party bigwigs who are pushing for her summary expulsion from the strife-torn former liberation movement.
Addressing a hastily-arranged press conference yesterday, the emotional Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister vowed 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.
Party insiders told the Daily News last night that Sandi Moyo’s emphatic declaration that she was going nowhere had “set the stage for a bruising battle with her rivals in both the women’s league and the party generally”, who had accused her of disrespecting First Lady Grace Mugabe.
This comes after she and vocal women’s league treasurer Sarah Mahoka were on Wednesday rocked 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.
The Hurungwe East legislator is also famed for having publicly dressed down Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in front of Mugabe last year.
“What you 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,” Sandi Moyo said yesterday.
“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 Sandi Moyo said.
“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,” the Provincial Affairs minister said.
“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 added.
While she would not name who was behind the demonstrations, she said it was clear “someone, somewhere” wanted her gone.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that Wednesday’s stunning development was “very significant” as it was likely to have serious ramifications in the party’s 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 is closely linked to a party faction going by the name Generation 40 (G40), and 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.
The under-fire women’s league treasurer and Sandi Moyo were also among a group of vocal 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 become one of Zanu PF’s two VPs was seen as directed against Mnangagwa, as the other current VP, Phelekezela Mphoko’s appointment 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.
Political analysts have also told the Daily News that Wednesday’s surprising demos showed that there were now major rifts within the powerful women’s league, which has thus far been fighting spiritedly to force Mugabe to re-appoint a woman in the presidency.
Local think tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), warned in a recent paper 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.
Analysts have previously said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s succession riddle is fuelling the party’s deadly infighting, which is devouring the former liberation movement.
The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.
The ruling party’s two major factions have escalated their fights ever since Mugabe’s traditional birthday interview last month in which he rubbished all his lieutenants’ leadership credentials and their chances of succeeding him.