Zanu PF on the brink: Chairman arrested and expelled as defiance escalates

HARARE – Zanu-PF Manicaland provincial chairman Basil Nyabadza was arrested and expelled from the party yesterday for organising defiance against Robert Mugabe at the party's Fifth National People’s Congress, we can reveal.\r\n

The former Central Intelligence Organisation officer is amongst a group of disgruntled party faithful openly in defiance of the continued Robert Mugabe’s grip on the party.

The party’s Manicaland province, backed by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa have now taken matters into their own hands over the nomination for the party national chairman, recently "won" by Simon Khaya Moyo at the expense of the province’s stalwart, Didymus Mutasa.

We’re told by sources within the party that Basil Nyabadza, the province’s firebrand Chairman clashed and manhandled a Senior Zanu PF official after a fierce argument and in the melee, he withdrew a pistol, cocked it, threatened to shoot.

He was eventually overpowered by members of the Military police who disarmed him and his whereabouts has not been known since the incident, but sources said he was taken to KGIV Army barracks.

Security was heightened last night at Zanu PF congress with the army and Central Intelligence Organisation operatives pitching up a bases as tensions ran high amid reports that threats on Robert Mugabe’s life have been made.

On Wednesday afternoon, another politburo meeting was briefly disrupted with reports of a bomb scare at the Zanu PF Head Offices. The meeting only resumed after a sweeping clearance by the members of the Army’s bomb disposal unit.

A large majority of delegates are disgruntled over Robert Mugabe’s self endorsement without their approval and the idea of a break away party is being sold to delegates.

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. A personality cult has developed around him in the party, with some officials referring to him as the "second son of God" or the "supreme leader."

Meanwhile sources from the embattled Zanu PF eastern province have denied the claim by Zanu PF’s Deputy Secretary for Information and Publicity, Ephraim Masawi that their Chairman submitted a letter of resignation amid reports that he was forced to sign a letter already written after intelligent sources tipped Mugabe that the province was planning a show of defiance from the Congress floor.

Robert Mugabe countered that and immediately appointed Manicaland Governor and Resident Minister, Christopher Mushowe, as acting chairman.

However, this move has not gone down well with members of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction and they have resorted to extraordinary show of defiance and in the past 24 hours, they have escalated their show of rebellion against Robert Mugabe and Joyce Mujuru.

Last night, the Zanu PF Youth League and the Joint Operations Command, are reported to have released mobile phone text messages from their base at Firsterl Cellular offices in the Kopje Plaza claiming that the military is unprepared to salute Vice-President Mujuru and that provinces will ditch President Mugabe at the party’s congress.

The Mnangagwa faction was backing the party’s National Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa, for the post of national chairman, and the latest twist means they are on course to losing control of the crucial province with the likes of Mutasa, Oppah Muchinguri and Chinamasa being sidelined from the so called presedium.

Briefing journalists at the Zanu-PF national headquarters last night, the party’s Deputy Secretary for Information and Publicity, Ephraim Masawi, said the Politburo did not feel comfortable to reveal circumstances sorrounding Nyabadza’s expulsion, but gave a hint that Senior members from that province have threatened to quit the party.

The Fifth National People’s Congress, which started yesterday and ends on Sunday, is being held under the theme: "United in Defence of Our Natural Resources and People’s Economic Empowerment."

Last night Zanu-PF tried to down-play the mobile phone messages as a as a "hoax" the work of the "enemy"’ mobile phone text messages claiming that the military is unprepared to salute Vice-President Mujuru and that provinces will ditch President Mugabe at the party’s congress.

In a Press Conference yesterday at the party’s headquarters in Harare, Zanu-PF Secretary for the Youth, Absalom Sikhosana said the message was not coming from the party.
"It (message) is coming from the enemy. That is how the enemy operates.

That is not our project. It is a project of the enemy intended to cause confusion and chaos during the congress. Our people must just ignore them. The Youth League is looking forward to the congress to help in building the country."

Commenting on the same matter, Zanu-PF’s Secretary for Education, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, dismissed the messages as a charade.

"The so-called threat to dump President Mugabe is a hoax and it shows political inexactitude as Zanu-PF is united under its leader," he said in a statement released in Harare yesterday.

Although Mugabe has flatly refused to discuss his retirement plans, analysts have said 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. Ordinary members are calling on Mugabe to hand over power to someone younger.

One faction led by Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa is reportedly circulating documents at the congress spelling out "a get-out plan". It is believed that the faction will run parallel structures in Zanu-PF with a long term plan to form a fully fledged break-away political party whose Congress is scheduled for September 2010.

A 200 page detailed document authored by former Information minister Jonathan Moyo details the "sources of funding, recruitment of members from Zanu-PF as well as the two MDC factions and external support".