CONGRESS UPDATE: Rebels distributing defiance fliers, man dies in fist-fight

(Readers please note, The Zimbabwe Mail has moles embedded in the centre of Zanu PF power battles and we will keep you informed of any developments as Zanu PF faces inevitable disintegration irrespective of Robert Mugabe’s message of defiance.)

The document, believed to be a summary of Jonathan Moyo’s authored plan for a Zanu PF break-away plan and its colourful fliers which have been distributed openly by a group of party rebels led by former Chairman of Zanu PF Harare province, Hubert Nyanhongo are all urging party members to "to do whatever possible to reclaim their party from unelected leaders".

The fliers are written in English, Shona and Ndebele languages.

The national congress of ZANU-PF of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe opens in the capital Harare Thursday amid high expectations.

Last night our reporter witnessed a Nissan 4×4 pick up truck off-loading defiant banners, fliers and placards at the Kopje Plaza, the NETONE building and they where taken into the basement by people believed to be aligned to the embattled Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Mnangagwa faction has set up its operational base in the Kopje Plaza’s fourth floor and the command centre being run from Firstel Cellular’s board room.

Firstel Cellular is a Zanu PF owned mobile phone company siezed from Mutumwa Mawere and it occupies the entire fourth floor of the Kopje Plaza.

The Zimbabwe Mail reporter was shown around the place by an overzealous Senior member of the faction and he showed him army communication radios hidden in the basement.

Unconfirmed reports said in the last 48 hours some of the ring leaders of the rebel party members have been seized by the intelligence forces and scores of party supporters have since fled into the neighbouring South Africa as the battle to control Zanu PF reaches fever peach.

We’re also told that last night a man died in a fist-fight at the Zanu PF Harare District offices near Fourth Street bus station and scores were injured as things got out of control during a pre-congress briefing. The dead man was accused to be a spy agent for Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Sources said, South African President Jacob Zuma has kept a close touch with his Zimbabwean counter-part with reports that President Mugabe has sounded a security scare alert as the battle ground moves into the control of security forces.

President Jabob Zuma in turn has informed other SADC leaders of the challenges facing Zimbabwe and on his visit to Zambia he has briefed the Zambian President of the need to set-up his army ready to assist if there is an urgent need.

Today, Botswana President Ian Khama, a former Army commander himself, will tour army bases in the Chobe District which is situated around the Zimbabwe-Botswana border, and our source revealed that this is part of the latest SADC security alert plan as they fear Zimbabwe could degenerate into a civil conflict.

We can reveal that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao was tasked by SADC leader to meet President Mugabe early this week in order to get some feedback and the Zimbabwean President raised the security concern which has since been communicated to the region’s Defence Ministers.

A battle over who will eventually succeed 85-year-old President Robert Mugabe as party leader threatens the future of his long-ruling ZANU-PF but analysts say an immediate split is unlikely at a congress this week.

By balancing competing factions and through a political patronage system, Mugabe has kept a tight grip on ZANU-PF since becoming party leader in the mid 1970s and spearheaded a guerrilla war against white minority rule.

But as Mugabe heads into the twilight of a political career spanning over half a century, his lieutenants have stepped up an internal fight for prime positions to take over the party when Mugabe retires. He has not given a date.

Rival factions have been jostling for posts in ZANU-PF’s "presidium" leadership before a five-yearly party congress opening in Harare on Friday, widening cracks within ranks already torn over personalities, ethnic and regional issues.

"These fights are going to go on until Mugabe goes, and when he goes ZANU-PF is in danger of disintegration," said Eldred Masunungure, a leading political analyst.

"There is no consensus candidate on who should succeed Mugabe, and Mugabe himself has apparently created that crisis to remain in power," Masunungure told Reuters.

But whoever eventually wins the battle to succeed Mugabe — whenever his position becomes vacant — will have a huge task to reorganise a party which many critics say just managed to hang onto power last year through violence against the opposition.


A post-election standoff with the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) forced Mugabe to sign a power-sharing deal with its leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Since then the new government has struggled to rebuild the shattered economy and attract much-needed aid funds.

"All the fighting that is going on in ZANU-PF is not going to help them at the next elections against the MDC," said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of political pressure group National Constitutional Assembly.

"What is emerging is a weak and divided party, a party probably in terminal decline," he said.

The two-day congress will endorse Mugabe as party head for five years, and confirm a new policy-making central committee.

A faction led by former army General Solomon Mujuru has gained an upper hand in the succession battle as Mujuru’s wife, Joice Mujuru, 54, has been nominated by most of ZANU-PF’s provincial executives to remain as vice-president to Mugabe.

This makes Joice Mujuru, for now, the front runner to succeed Mugabe as ZANU-PF leader if he steps down, ahead of rival faction leader Emmerson Mnangagwa, who local media has for long touted as a favourite to takeover from Mugabe.

The congress will also confirm John Nkomo, 75, current party chairman to become the second ZANU-PF vice president, replacing veteran politician Joseph Msika who died aged 86 this year.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, 64, has been earmarked to fill Nkomo’s party chairman post.

The issue of Mugabe’s successor has divided ZANU-PF along ethnic lines, with Mnangagwa’s faction charging that Mujuru’s group seeks to preserve the party presidency for another member of Mugabe’s Zezuru ethnic group. 

"The problem of tribalism or ethnic tensions has been swept under the carpet in ZANU-PF for a long time, but I think this is going to be a real issue if some things appear so obvious," said Masunungure.

Mugabe has flatly refused to discuss his retirement plans, but analysts say he is unlikely to contest the next presidential poll — expected in the next two years or in 2013 if the current unity government runs a full term.

He will be heading towards his 90th birthday by then, and may not get his party support to continue in power.