Mugabe admits for the first time, ZANU PF is spliting

HARARE – The embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday admited his party is headed for disintergration as a result of infighting over leadership posts, and he accepted in a speech to his paty faithful that the MDC is getting stronger.

As we reported elsewhere, Senior members of Zanu PF have already set up plans for a break away party and the first congress is scheduled for September 2010.

Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who appears on the losing side of the udergoing party restructuring process, has tasked former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, a political science professor to draft plans for a break away movement and a detailed 200 page document shown to our reporter is clear evidence that Zanu PF is headed for split in the coming year. 

A "working committee" headed by former Zanu PF Central Committee member and Minister of Labour July Moyo was tasked  with the day-to-day roles from a secret base in Gweru.

We can also reveal that the break away movement plans to use the name Zanu. In the mean time, the battle looms in the efforts to control party assets and infiltration into board rooms of Zimbabwe’s top companies to access cash.

A source told us of the failed plan to sieze control of Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited from John Moxon as a major set back for Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangwagwa whose faction is now a major holder of the country’s mineral rights which cannot be turned into cash overnight. Politics need cash for day-to-day strategies.

Mugabe has therefore tasked his nephew, flamboyant business tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa to ring-fence John Moxon’s business empire through a consortium which recently bought Econet shares in KML.

Meanwhile Youths Empowerment and Development minister Saviour Kasukuwere will be used by Robert Mugabe to identify companies used in the disruption of Zanu PF and they will be siezed under some form of indeginisation or empowering workers as what happened recently with Schweppes Zimbabwe.

Schweppes was siezed from exiled businessman Mutumwa Mawere by the Mnangagwa faction and it has since been handed over to a consotium led by Mr Charles Msipa, the son of former Midlands Governor Cephas Msipa, through a Ministerial decree.

Mugabe was forced to share power with rival Morgan Tsvangirai in February after an election stalemate last year, which saw ZANU-PF lose its majority in parliament for the first time to Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

A fierce battle over who will eventually succeed the 85-year-old leader — now in the twilight of a political career spanning more than half a century — threatens the future of the former liberation movement.

"The reason why we lost last year was because of factions in many provinces. This is how the party has suffered damage," Mugabe told thousands of supporters at a ZANU-PF congress which opened in Harare on Friday.

"The party is eating itself up. The more intense the internal fighting is, the greater opportunity we give to the opposition to thrive," said Mugabe, who read only briefly from a prepared speech he said was too long.

Mugabe will get the nod to lead the party for another five years but tensions are running high over what members see as the imposition of weak candidates to serve in the policy-implementing central committee.

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

Mugabe is unlikely to contest the next election, expected in 2013 if the coalition government lasts its full five-year term, and his lieutenants have stepped up an internal fight for prime positions to take over the party when he retires. 

"There are too many leaders now outside the scope of the regular leaders provided for by our party constitution," said Mugabe.

REMOVING SANCTIONS

He said the unity government was working well but that the MDC was not putting in enough effort to call for the removal of Western sanctions imposed against members of his party.

The travel and financial embargoes were imposed by the European Union and United States for democratic failings and human rights abuses. But Mugabe has argued they are meant to punish his party for seizing white-owned land to resettle blacks, and that the West still covets Zimbabwe’s mineral resources.

The 10-month-old coalition has been rocked by differences on how to share power, with the MDC saying ZANU-PF is refusing to fully implement the deal and branding it a "dishonest partner".

The MDC wants the central bank governor and attorney general replaced, and party treasurer Roy Bennett and some senior officials sworn-in as deputy agriculture minister and provincial governors, respectively.

ZANU-PF says it has met its part of the power-sharing deal and wants the MDC to urge an end to Western sanctions and persuade radio stations broadcasting from abroad to stop.

"We are not of one voice. The MDC told an EU troika not to lift sanctions yet … so we have part of us whose thinking needs to be re-oriented," said Mugabe. Additional reporting from Reuters