HARARE – As expected, powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe and her influential Zanu PF women’s league yesterday sacked embattled party heavyweights Eunice Sandi Moyo and Sarah Mahoka from within their ranks — meaning that it may be a matter of time before the two are in turn jettisoned altogether from President Robert Mugabe’s warring former liberation movement.
The move — which is likely to further fuel Zanu PF’s deadly tribal, factional and succession brawls — prompted a stunned sympathiser of the two ladies to tell the Daily News last night that “musha waparara”, which loosely translated means the party is finished.
Other well-placed sources said after a marathon, all-day meeting of the women’s league’s top 10 office bearers, Sandi Moyo and the vocal Mahoka had been summarily booted out of the key organ, amid further reports that discussions leading to the decision had been both “heavy and heated”.
Curiously, both Sandi Moyo and Mahoka, as well as Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga, the minister of State in Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office, did not attend the meeting even though all of them are part of the league’s top 10.
While the league itself was tight-lipped about what had transpired, the sources said an official announcement about the expulsions would be made today — when the rest of the women’s league’s executives, including provincial leaders, are expected to congregate in Harare.
“They (Sandi Moyo and Mahoka) have been expelled. Amai (Grace) showed her power today and from now on they are nobodies
“Amai will chair a meeting of the women’s league top 50 at the Zanu PF Headquarters on Tuesday, and we understand that both Sandi and Mahoka are barred from attending that meeting,” one of the sources who spoke to the Daily News said.
Women’s league secretary for administration, Leticia Undenge, referred all questions to the wing’s secretary for information and publicity, Thokozile Mathuthu, whose cellphone was not reachable last night.
“Talk to the information secretary (Mathuthu). She is the one who speaks for the wing,” was all Undenge would say.
But in truth, the expulsion was wholly predictable as the axe had been hovering over the heads of the two women since last week, after irate party members held demonstrations across the country, alleging that Grace’s former top allies had now allegedly turned to undermining the first lady.
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.
The 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 were seen as directed against Mnangagwa, as the appointment of 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.
Sources had previously told the Daily News that it was inevitable that Sandi Moyo and Mahoka would face the boot, after Sandi Moyo shocked the league by allegedly openly declaring her interest in becoming the woman Zanu PF VP, when the women’s quota system kicks in.
Party insiders also said while Mahoka had been sacrificed for “her own demeanours” Sandi Moyo had further angered Grace by holding a defiant press conference in Bulawayo on Thursday, in response to Wednesday’s demonstrations against her.
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 Mugabe who had appointed her as a minister and Zanu PF politburo member.
Mahoka was until yesterday in the United States on party business. Sources said she had been sacrificed because she had become “head strong and obstinate” within the women’s league executive, claims that she has previously dismissed as false.
In the meantime, political analysts have warned that the sacking of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka would likely further widen fissures in the deeply-divided former liberation movement.
“Zanu PF is imploding right before our eyes. The party is being destroyed by the insatiable desire of the president to remain in power, and being too old, he is now relying on his wife who is a novice in all this, to achieve this,” political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo said.
“At the rate at which things are going, Zanu PF might even find it hard to rig the 2018 elections due to the lack of elite cohesion. The First Family is stepping on everyone’s toes and now have no permanent friends.
“The opposition can take advantage of these fissures to get an upper hand in the elections. Given the interviews the expelled duo has given thus far, it also appears as if they are determined to fight Grace and this may see the shifting of allegiances and them joining forces with Team Lacoste,” Hlatywayo added.
“This is yet another sign of possible covert moves by Grace to consolidate her grip on the women’s league through the purging of perceived opponents, seeing that the two women were sacked without following any clear party disciplinary procedures,” weighed in another analyst Dewa Mavhinga.
Zanu PF insiders also told the Daily News that the events of the past few days and the firing of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka could see factional re-alignments within the party.
They said the expulsions were also likely to further fuel the party’s deadly succession brawls, which had gone a notch higher ever since the nonagenarian’s 93rd birthday interview with the ZBC, in which he appeared to slam the door shut on ambitious party bigwigs angling to succeed him.
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.