ZANU PF has fired ex-military chiefs who helped mastermind its disputed victories in the 2008 and 2013 harmonised elections as the ruling party steps up measures to weed out alleged remnants of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s camp, NewsDay has learnt.

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by Everson Mushava/ Own Correspondent

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Informed sources said the two military strategists were the latest victims of Zanu PF’s brutal purge of a long list of perceived Mujuru allies.

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NewsDay understands that Retired Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena, former Central Intelligence Organisation deputy director Sydney Nyanhongo, Munyaradzi Machacha and several others were recently summarily fired from the party’s commissariat department.

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Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere confirmed the departures in an interview on Monday, but claimed that they were “voluntary” employees “who come and go as and when they so wished”.

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“They are our stakeholders. They are respected in the party. They are voluntary workers who have always come to help the party,” Kasukuwere said.

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“They were never employed by the party, but were volunteers who have just decided to go back into retirement. As you know, they came here from the military.”

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Pressed further to disclose other names of all those that have left the commissariat department, Kasukuwere quipped: “No one has remained, they have all gone.”

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Although he tried to downplay reports that the ex-military men had been sent packing, officials confirmed that they were forced out after they clashed with him three weeks ago.

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They were reportedly axed on reports of “strong links to the Mujuru camp”.

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It is also understood that the three were also accused of being part of a cliqué that was reportedly working with the Mujuru cabal to topple President Robert Mugabe.

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Officials said they were among several top commissariat officials numbering up to 11 who were relieved of their roles since the December congress.

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Kasukuwere’s axe was now reportedly hovering over provincial commissariat members across the country, although insiders warned that the move could ignite fresh schisms within Zanu PF.

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“There was a meeting at the party headquarters. Kasukuwere openly accused the (secretariat) department of working for the Mujuru faction,” the officials said.

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“Cde Kasukuwere (also) accused the commissariat of playing a role in manipulating votes in the November 2013 provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) elections that saw the Mujuru faction sweeping almost all the chairmen posts in all provinces.”

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Muchena could not be reached for comment, while Machacha refused to comment yesterday, referring questions to Kasukuwere.

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But Nyanhongo confirmed he was no longer at the Zanu PF headquarters.

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He, however, downplayed his exit, saying they had completed their task of campaigning for Zanu PF’s victories in two previous general elections.

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“We have not been fired. We were voluntary workers and would assist as and when we were needed. We have completed our task and they have roped in a new team. We can always go back to assist when our services are needed. We are stakeholders,” Nyanhongo said yesterday.

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Yesterday, the sources said Muchena, Machacha and Nyanhongo were salaried employees of the party.
\n“Cde Kasukuwere also alleged that the commissariat was preparing Mujuru’s grassroots structures and plotting the ouster of President Mugabe,” the insider said.

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“Kasukuwere is now working hand-in-glove with the party’s secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo whose axe is also hovering over top party officials in the secretariat department. Cdes Muchena and Nyanhongo are strongly believed to be sympathetic to Mai Mujuru and (fired former secretary for administration) Didymus Mutasa. So it was difficult for the new party leadership to work with these guys.”

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Another party source told NewsDay that the electronic party membership cards that were launched by former political commissar Webster Shamu were also another cause of the rift as members jostled to control the money-spinning cards, to operate more like visa electronic cards.

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The sources added: “Kasukuwere accused the Muchena-led commissariat of reneging on resolving problems in Masvingo and Midlands after being advised so by the politburo because it favoured their preferred outcome.”
\nKasukuwere took over from Shamu, who was accused of being sympathetic to the Mujuru camp and was fired from government.

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Besides the commissariat department, the Youth League has also seen a clean-up exercise with its director, Tapiwa Zengeya, being pushed out for his reported involvement in a botched agricultural scheme launched by Mutasa when he was still secretary for administration.

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The information department has also seen party mouthpiece People’s Voice editor Tendai Munengwa, previously with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, being shown the exit door on the same pro-Mujuru allegations.

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To date, at least 15 ministers and several provincial executive members have been fired, including Mujuru, former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and Mutasa.

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The sources intimated that Kasukuwere was now building his own power chest by appointing his loyalists to fill the positions left vacant during the purge.

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Kasukuwere has already dissolved provincial structures in Mashonaland East and Bulawayo provinces.
\nHe has also reportedly crossed swords with former Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri after he handpicked his alleged cronies to fill vacant parliamentary seats in the forthcoming by-elections to advance his presidential ambitions, a charge he has denied.

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“People can keep on dreaming and I will keep on doing my work as assigned by our leader (Mugabe),” Kasukuwere vowed yesterday.

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The Environment minister together with Muchinguri, Information minister Jonathan Moyo and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, were reportedly members of the “Gang of Four” which plotted Mujuru’s downfall by roping in First Lady Grace Mugabe. – NewsDay