Zanu (PF) threatens to expel Mnangagwa

HARARE – In a direct threat aimed at Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa Zanu-PF’s Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa has warned the hugely ambitious party’s Secretary for Legal Affairs that he could be expelled from the party like what happened to some senior party members in the past.

Mutasa said in Harare this afternoon, the party expelled its first founding president Ndabaningi Sithole and former secretary general Edgar Tekere for failing to adhere to party principles and dictates.

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The embattled defence Minister in a tricky catch 22 situation over how to respond to the apparent attack on his perceived presidential ambition, which rightly or wrongly led to the controversial disbandment of District Coordinating Committees (DCCs) that had become the latest battlefront for party heavyweights jostling to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

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The emissaries of the Zanu PF Presidium and Central Committee to all the party provinces in the country ended their briefing in Harare on Monday when they explained the disbandment of the District Coordinating Committees (DCCs) from the party structure.

The Party Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa accompanied by Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu, Zanu PF Information and Publicity Secretary Rugare Gumbo and Secretary for Women Affairs Oppah Muchinguri, informed the Harare provincial leadership of the divisive nature of the disbanded DCCs. 

He said the party expelled its first founding president Ndabaningi Sithole and former secretary general Edgar Tekere for failing to adhere to party principles and dictates.

Mutasa endorsed the leadership of Jabulani Sibanda as the leader of the war veterans, a move that was underscored by Webster Shamu.

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Before the decision to terminate the DCCs which were ironically the brainchild of former defence minister, Moven Mahachi (now late) and Didymus Mutasa, the ZANU-PF secretary for administration, protégés and close associates of Mnang-angwa had made a clean sweep of the 13-member committees in most provinces where elections had been held, notably in Midlands, Mani-caland, Masvingo and even in the Mashon-aland provinces where his rival enjoys support.

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Mnangagwa’s protégés also had an upper hand in President Mugabe’s home province of Mashonaland West, where the provincial chairperson, John Mafa was being subjected to pressure because of his political leanings to Ngwena, as the Defence Minister is affectionately known because of his complex character.

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Impeccable sources said Mna-ngagwa is now under pressure from his lieutenants to at least do something to salvage his and their political careers.

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They claim that after the Tsholotsho debacle in 2004, where the minister was said to have been their preferred beneficiary had the plan to parachute him into the presidium succeeded, most of those in the rank and file of his so-called faction were left to lick their wounds as the President yielded the axe on them.

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The Tsholotsho plan incensed the top leadership of ZANU-PF resulting in the suspension of six provincial chairpersons who had clandestinely nominated a new leadership for the endorsement of the 2004 congress whereby Mnang-agwa, who had no fingerprint linking him to the plan, was to succeed the late vice president, Simon Muzenda.

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Inside sources say due to fears of a repeat of the 2004 Tsholotsho debacle, Mnangagwa’s lieutenants want him to respond decisively. They say the manner in which the issue of scrapping DCCs was brought about at the Politburo and eventually at the Central Committee was not procedural. More so, they claim that the scrapping of DCCs itself was unconstitutional.

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But the Defence Minister is said to be pondering his next move as acting or not acting has grave consequences. The same sources say he is caught between a rock and a hard place.

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For starters, if he acts, he will be moving against the orders of the President although he will gain marks in the court of public opinion for defending internal democracy in ZANU-PF. That in itself is considered political suicide in the party.

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But if he does not act, he will have angered a constituency that has stood by him in ensuring that he stands a good chance of succeeding President Mugabe should the veteran leader decide to exit office.

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Also, he faces the humiliation of being eliminated from the presidential race in which he has been a front-runner along with his nemesis, Vice President Joice Mujuru. Added to that, there is an unhappy section in the security sector that has supported him and pushed for his eventual takeover of the highest office in the land.

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All these people say that because Mnangagwa’s lieutenants were in control of the levers of power in the DCCs, this had presented a huge threat to Vice President Mujuru who then managed to pull the rug under Mnangagwa’s feet.

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The decision to do away with the grassroots structures was made in Mnangagwa’s absence, as he was reportedly on a working visit in China. Sources said Mnangagwa’s rivals in the highest decision-making body of the party took advantage of his absence.

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It is believed the Defence Minister was not consulted and had no input in the decision to scrap the DCCs. His close aides say this situation was “totally unacceptable”.

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But inside sources say the Politburo claimed it had evidence money was used to “impose” candidates on the electorate during the DCC elections. Yet critics of the decision argue that most senior members of the party were also guilty of using cash and influence to sway voters in breach of rules passed at the Bulawayo conference last December.

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An attempt to speak to the Defence Minister through his mobile phone was fruitless as he did not answer calls placed to him.

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Political analyst, Dewa Mavh-inga, said it was high time the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions unite to enable President Mugabe to deal with his succession.
“It is high time Mnangagwa throws his weight behind Joice Mujuru to support her candidature — so that when the two main factions in ZANU-PF unite, they will be able to force President Mugabe to deal with the succession issue without playing the factions against each other,” said Mavhinga.

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The DCC elections had become the battleground for ZANU-PF factions tussling for control of strategic party structures in the battle to eventually produce a successor to President Mugabe.

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Infighting rocked DCC elections in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mash-onaland East, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North and South provinces, as the factions led by Vice President Mujuru and Mnan-gagwa fought for control of the provinces.

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The divisions, which had torn the party apart were complicated by the emergence of two strong security establishment-based groups rooting for President Mugabe to stay on while another was pushing for Mnangagwa to eventually succeed the President.

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Internal strife has been so pronounced that it forced President Mugabe to publicly denounce factions and their leaders, saying they were destroying the party.

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Mnangagwa had for a long time been seen as the blue-eyed boy of the President. But his fortunes had dipped in 2004 as he was seen as the leader of the Tsholotsho fiasco.