This followed a dramatic battle for power last weekend which is likely to claim high-profile political casualties ahead of the party’s congress next month. The vicious political episode could mark the beginning of the disintegration of the party along its regional and ethnic fault lines.
The Mujuru faction heavily defeated the Mnangagwa camp during the party’s nominations for a new leadership to be endorsed at congress after a bruising battle across the country that left political careers damaged or ruined. There is also bitterness in the party as shown by the brickbats fired by Manicaland provincial chairman Beziel Nyabadza at a funeral on Wednesday.
Nyabadza attacked the Zanu PF leadership at the funeral of party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa’s son in Rusape, saying procedures were flouted during nominations and some leaders were now like “UN permanent security members”, a reference to President Robert Mugabe’s continuous 32 years at the helm of the party. Zanu PF politburo members are also attacking each other all over the place after the latest power struggle and elections.
Inside sources said the Mnangagwa group dismally lost one of the fiercest battles for control in Zanu PF in recent times after losing practically in all provinces except Masvingo. The sources said Mnangagwa’s ticket which included President Robert Mugabe, John Nkomo, Oppah Muchinguri and Kembo Mohadi was initially projected to secure seven provinces ahead of Mujuru’s one. Despite losing, Muchinguri is said to be planning to put up a fight from the floor at congress to oust Joice Mujuru.
The Mujuru group initially wanted to have Mugabe, Joice Mujuru, Naison Ndlovu and Obert Mpofu for president, co-vice-presidents and party chair, respectively. There were shifts and changes later due to shock results in different provinces. The Mujuru faction operated on the basis of a loose alliance.
As in 2004 during the Tsholotsho affair the Mnangagwa group thought it was assured of victory until the eleventh hour when the Mujuru faction played its main card. The Mnangagwa faction ended up with four provinces but this time it has only won one so far. Mnangagwa’s regional powerbase, the Midlands province, is yet to vote. It might now vote for the Mujuru candidates to avoid a political backlash.
Masvingo, which was divided on the day of voting, is now bitter that Mnangagwa has let it down again by failing to hold his nerve when it mattered most. In 2004 Mnangagwa’s camp was running away with at least seven provinces but the Mujuru faction made a decisive intervention and won.
Sources said the Mnangagwa faction had over the years managed to regroup to challenge the Mujuru team, again after careful planning.
However, in the end only Masvingo, instead of six other provinces which included three Matabeleland regions, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Midlands, voted for Mnangagwa’s line-up. The Midlands is yet to vote.
Sources said Nkomo had struck a deal after talks with Mnangagwa in which the former was put on the ticket on condition he agreed to surrender the party chairmanship, a traditionally PF Zapu position after the 1987 Unity Accord, to the latter. Sources said however Mnangagwa did not want to take a risk like he did in 1999 to go for the chairmanship unless he was assured to win. Eventually Mnangagwa deferred to Mohadi.
Nkomo aligned himself with the Mnangagwa faction after facing unexpectedly stiff competition in Matabeleland provinces from senior party officials Ndlovu, Mpofu, Cain Mathema and Ambrose Mutinhiri.
The sources said Nkomo had also indicated to Mutasa the position of chairman was not in the Unity Accord and therefore open to contest as in 1999 and 2004. This led to Mutasa throwing his hat into the ring. But Nkomo could not assure Mutasa of support because of his deal with Mnangagwa. Mutasa then entered the race on the strength of his alliance with the Mujuru faction before it ditched him midstream.
The Mujuru group also dumped Ndlovu and Mpofu after their defeat in Matabeleland South and Bulawayo.
They then shifted support to Nkomo first and then Simon Khaya Moyo. Moyo beat Mutasa after being backed by the Mujuru faction which even reversed its nomination of Mutasa in Mashonaland Central in his favour.
Nkomo and Moyo were the official PF Zapu candidates nominated by their caucus which still exists inside Zanu PF.
Sources said if the Mnangagwa team won, Mnangagwa was expected to then reoccupy the position of secretary for administration while preparing for an assault on the presidency. The position was supposed to be his springboard to power whenever Mugabe leaves through retirement or natural causes.
However, the plan started collapsing after one of Mnangagwa’s candidates, Mohadi, lost to Moyo in Matabeleland South. Mohadi further lost in Matabeleland North and Bulawayo, although Nkomo won in those provinces.
Matabeleland North initially refused to vote for Nkomo and only did so after it became obvious he was inevitably winning. Mohadi only won in Masvingo but later withdrew after the Mnangwa faction was trounced. The Zimbabwe Independent