THE fierce race to control ZANU-PF Mashonaland East provincial structures has scaled fresh heights with information emanating from that region indicating that the interim provincial chairman, Aeneas Chigwedere and his deputy, Joel Biggie Matiza, almost exchanged blows at the latter’s offices.

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Contacted by phone at his Marondera base, Chigwedere simply said: “It could be true,” before hanging up and switching off his mobile phone. Matiza was not reachable.

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The two, currently locked in a bitter war to land the provincial chairmanship in elections that are due on Sunday but are now in doubt after the province failed to complete an audit of its structures, nearly got involved in a fist fight at Matiza’s office last week.

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The elections would now possibly be held before end of June.
\nThe internal polls to find a replacement for expelled former chairman, Ray Kaukonde, were initially due in March but failed to materialise largely because of the internecine fights that have dogged the party since last year.

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Kaukonde lost the position in the run up to the ZANU-PF congress last year before his expulsion from the ruling party last week for allegedly being part of a cabal that was believed to have plotted to unseat President Robert Mugabe.

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Former vice president, Joice Mujuru, was seen as the leader of that group and has also been shown the exit.

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Information obtained by the Financial Gazette this week shows that Chigwedere and Matiza have of late been trading insults at public meetings, with Chigwedere being accused of having stoked the fires when he reportedly tore into Matiza at a party meeting in Wedza two weeks ago.

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Insiders in the volatile province, which has caused the ruling party endless nightmares, said Chigwedere publicly accused his deputy of orchestrating and fomenting his political woes by labelling him a “gammatox”, a derogatory term used to refer to members of a ZANU-PF faction believed to be led by Mujuru.

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Previously, the party’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, who handpicked Chigwedere to be interim chair, had to rush to Marondera, the Mashonaland East provincial capital, to try and resolve the duo’s impasse after Matiza reportedly instigated a vote of no confidence in the former education minister.

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Matiza had assumed the interim chairmanship at the time.
\nKasukuwere reversed the decision and reinstated Chigwedere, but not before reprimanding Matiza, who is also the province’s Minister of State, for being power hungry.

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After the incident at Wedza, Matiza went on the offensive and started to canvas for support while counter-attacking Chigwedere in the process. Matiza has since embarked on a whirlwind tour of the province, making stops at districts to campaign though he usually pretends to be on government business.

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As the infighting ensues, Matiza appears to have surged ahead of Chigwedere, who has since been deserted by almost the entire interim executive he leads which has apparently enraged Chigwedere. He then pitched up at Matiza’s office last week and harshly accused him of soiling his image and turning the executive against him. But Matiza, who could not tolerated being bullied in his own office, told the ageing politician to back off. – FinGaz