The report which sources say Mugabe has fiercely suppressed also admits that the Tsvangirai MDC is effectively taking over in terms of political influence in the country.
The revelation will no doubt vindicate Tsvangirai’s determination to remain part of the unity government despite the many Zanu PF violations of the deal.
This week Wednesday the acrimony between Zanu PF bigwigs was there for all to see as tempers flared during a Politburo meeting. At the centre of the debate was the long simmering issue of Mugabe’s succession.
Senior official Rugare Gumbo took the bull by the horns by declaring that Zanu PF needed to handle the succession issue much better than they were because the power struggles were all centered on who would replace Mugabe.
Sniping during the meeting pitted party heavyweights Mugabe himself, Joice Mujuru, Solomon Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Didymus Mutasa, Oppah Muchinguri, Rugare Gumbo, Thokozile Mathuthu, and Saviour Kasukuwere who all accused each other of various underhand political deals.
Sources say tempres flared at a tense Zanu PF politburo meeting on Wednesday after President Robert Mugabe’s simmering succession crisis exploded into a charged debate, with some senior party officials demanding for the first time that the party must sort out the issue once and for all.
Well placed sources said the unprecedented debate on Mugabe’s succession — which was postponed to Thursday next week after officials failed to agree on the way forward — left senior party leaders shocked and sensing the beginning of the unravelling of the divisive issue threatening to be the former ruling party’s burial ground.
However, a fierce battle still looms as Mugabe remains determined to hang onto power at all costs by retaining the party leadership for another five years at their congress from December 8-13. This move could leave Zanu PF facing a real danger of a split along its factional and ethnic fault lines.
Already former Zanu PF members led by Dumiso Dabengwa are trying to chip away at the party by reviving Zapu with the support of key leaders in the Southern Africa region. Senior Zapu members remaining in Zanu PF said in private this week they supported Dabengwa, although they may denounce him in public.
Dabengwa and another politburo member Simba Makoni quit last year after failing to ensure Mugabe’s removal at the explosive 2007 Zanu PF extraordinary conference.
Sources said this week’s heated politburo succession debate pitted party heavyweights, including Mugabe, Joice Mujuru, Solomon Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Didymus Mutasa, Oppah Muchinguri, Rugare Gumbo, Thokozile Mathuthu, and Saviour Kasukuwere, against each other.
The sources said although the meeting was convened to discuss the sensitive state of the party issue, it degenerated into a succession wrangle after Mathuthu had said that the problem affecting the party, which is riddled with factionalism, infighting and divisions, was that there were some senior officials trying to grab power from Mugabe.
A revealing report on the state of the party compiled by the commissariat department led by Richard Ndlovu was hastily withdrawn and suppressed by Mugabe at the politburo meeting on May 6 to prevent it from becoming public. The report said Zanu PF had virtually collapsed as a party and the main MDC wing led by Morgan Tsvangirai was taking over.
Sources said the succession issue started in the middle of the discussion on the Zanu PF state of affairs after Mathuthu said those trying to seize power from Mugabe were the problem.
It is said Mutasa fuelled the situation by tracing the party’s current problems to the 2004 Tsholotsho incident where Mugabe accused senior party officials of plotting a political coup against him.
Mutasa is said to have linked the issue to Mnangagwa who angrily reacted by feebly distancing himself from the Tsholotsho episode, saying it had never been raised with him in any party structures. In political circles, it is common cause Mnangagwa was the leader of the Tsholotsho group which viciously fought for positions with the Mujuru faction.
Sources said Mutasa further ruffled feathers when he referred to the Zimasco issue, reminding retired army commander Mujuru that he had vowed to fight Mnangagwa over that issue. Mujuru and Mnangagwa fought over the take-over of the chrome-producing Zimasco some years ago.
The sources said Mujuru then indicated he had threatened to fight Mnangagwa over the Zimasco affair from a business, not political point of view. Matters came to a head, sources said, when Gumbo, a Mujuru faction ally and a long time Mugabe adversary, forcefully intervened, saying party members must stop ducking and diving and call a spade a spade.
Gumbo is understood to have said the problem in Zanu PF was that the party had failed to put in place and manage its leadership succession.
“It was a charged debate on succession. It basically started after Mathuthu’s remarks but the situation became tense after contributions by Mutasa, Mnangagwa, both VP Mujuru (pictured) and her husband (Solomon), and Mugabe himself,” a source said.
“Gumbo is the one who hit the nail on the head by raising the issue directly and opening the floor for debate.”
Sources said attempts by Kasukuwere, who alongside Webster Shamu and Tendai Savanhu had earlier led the Mujuru faction attack against the Mnangagwa camp for trying to wrest control of the party leadership, to heckle Gumbo failed as he insisted on grabbing the bull by its horns.
“Gumbo warded off efforts by Kasukuwere to interrupt him and even suggested he had come a long way with Mugabe before Kasukuwere was born,” a source said. “He said the Mugabe succession issue was the problem and needs to be sorted out and managed better.”
Zanu PF insiders Kasukuwere and Shamu belong to the group which is loyal to Mugabe, not Mujuru or Mnangagwa.
It was said Joice Mujuru came out with guns blazing, insisting that Mugabe must tell the politburo that he had elevated her to vice-president not because of a special favour but on the basis of her own personal liberation struggle credentials.
Sources said she noted the embittered Mnangagwa faction had been suggesting that everything she did in her position as vice-president was part of efforts to remove Mugabe when in fact she had been trying to help him in his job.
Mujuru’s bitter complaint reflected power struggles in the party over the unresolved leadership succession crisis. The jockeying has of late been taking place at various levels of the party, including the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus.
Sources said Muchinguri attacked Zanu PF for fighting its allies in civil society and the business community.
Mugabe is said to have reacted menacingly, stopping her in her tracks and hushing her up. The acrimony over the succession debate, sources said, left the party facing an uncertain future.
The succession race is expected to intensify at various forthcoming events leading to the congress in December. Zanu PF will hold its Youth League’s congress from July 17-19, Women’s League August 26-29 and the main congress from December 8-13.
Nehanda Radio and The Independent