The Herald daily said ZANU PF electoral colleges are due to meet in the country’s 10 provinces to elect the new Presidium and Central Committee members.
The contest for the position of party vice president is expected to be hotly contested, with at least five candidates having expressed interest in replacing Joseph Msika who died in August.
President Robert Mugabe has two deputies in the party and in government but one of the vice presidents’ slots has been vacant since the August. Joice Mujuru is the other vice president.
Under the ZANU PF constitution, the two vice presidential slots must be shared by members of the old ZANU PF and the former PF ZAPU which derived its support base from Matabeleland in the west of the country.
The two parties merged in 1987 following a Unity Accord signed by Mugabe and former PF ZAPU leader and late vice president Joshua Nkomo.
Mujuru is from the old ZANU PF while the former PF ZAPU was yet to choose a replacement for Msika.
ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo has been nominated by one of the provinces in the Matabeleland region but he faces stiff competition from other candidates who have also thrown their hats into the contest.
The electoral colleges are also expected to take nominations from candidates vying for Nkomo’s current position which would be contested at next month’s congress.
Obert Mpofu launched a savage attack on Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo on Friday, the eve of party nominations for the top posts of vice president and national chairman.
Nkomo is angling for the vice presidency of Zanu PF and country following the death of second Vice President Joseph Msika on August 4.
Zanu PF’s politburo ruled that Msika’s replacement must come from PF-Zapu which it entered a unity government with in 1987 – and Nkomo was immediately installed by most political analysts as the front-runner.
But in a surprise twist, Nkomo has failed to get his candidacy backed by the three Matabeleland provinces – PF-Zapu’s former strong-hold. After Bulawayo declared it was backing Nkomo, Matabeleland South publicly backed Deputy Senate president Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu and Matabeleland North, where Mpofu is a big player, is also believed to be backing Ndlovu.
The other candidates in the running are Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema and Retired Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri.
Meanwhile Zanu PF’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has declared his intention to seek nomination for the chairman’s post – raising the possibility that Nkomo could lose both the chairmanship and the vice presidency.
Mpofu, who denies holding personal ambitions to be vice president, said Ndlovu was “a sober nationalist” and “a fatherly figure” in a ringing endorsement.
Mpofu then savagely attacked Nkomo, saying he had pursued his political career “through false political credentials, credentials only known to himself”.
The Umguza MP and Mines Minister did not refer to Nkomo by name but left no doubt who was the target of his venom when he referred to a failure to mobilise Zanu PF supporters for elections – a task which falls under the national chairman’s portfolio.
"Ndlovu is a true revolutionary who never speaks about himself and his political credentials as opposed to those who have set out to persecute and destroy the political future of many aspiring young cadres from this region,” Mpofu said.
"A good leader produces other leaders and does not persecute his subordinates. Ndlovu pursues his career through genuine unity as opposed to some people who have pursued their careers through false political credentials, credentials only known to themselves.
“These are the same people who have been rejected by the people several times but Cde Ndlovu is far from that.”
Senior Zanu PF leaders are said to be keen to see Nkomo elevated to vice president to spare him embarrassment, but Mpofu warned those seeking to block Ndlovu’s path would be “shamed”.
He told the Chronicle: “I want to assure you that the voice of the people in the region and the entire country would be heard this weekend and this will shame those who have always sought to destroy the people’s wishes through a transparent and democratic process, which Zanu PF has always thrived to achieve.
"We are in this inclusive government due to such pretenders whose objective is to secure positions instead of mobilising people and strengthening the party.
“I can safely say I am speaking for the people of this region because recorded results clearly show that I have a majority following in this part of the country."
In line with a September 2008 power sharing pact between President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the two MDC factions, Zanu PF will be allowed to pick the second vice president to fill the vacancy created by Msika’s death.