At the same time that Chiyangwa’s supporters are fighting to have him re-admitted to the commanding heights of the party, it has emerged that seven other people from different factions of the party are interested in the post.
Already, the two main factions in Zanu PF — one allegedly led by vice president Joice Mujuru and her husband Solomon, and the other by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa — are reported to be sponsoring their own candidates for the position.
The Daily News was told yesterday how top Zanu PF officials were now engaged in “a bruising fight” over the issue, amid reports that there has been a flurry of letters and representations to party leader President Robert Mugabe, with many heavyweights trying to block Chiyangwa’s re-ascendancy to the powerful position.
Chiyangwa’s interest in the provincial chairman comes seven years after he was fired from the same position following sensational allegations that he had spied for the South African government.
Chiyangwa, a former police officer during the Rhodesian era, was subsequently arrested, although he was never convicted for the alleged crime. His co-accused were given lengthy jail sentences.
As a precursor to Chiyangwa being re-appointed to the position, the maverick businessman has also since been readmitted to the membership of the divided party, after Mashonaland West province wrote a letter to the party’s head office seeking his readmission.
Chiyangwa and Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa confirmed this fact yesterday.
Mugabe is said to be in a dilemma over the Chiyangwa riddle, as the octogenarian reportedly no longer trusts him since the spy scandal was unearthed.
However, Mugabe is apparently not sure who to support, given that both the Mnangagwa and the Mujuru camps have taken a keen interest in the post.
Chiyangwa is seen as being more inclined towards the more radical Mnangagwa camp, which is said to enjoy the support of securocrats.
“The fight for control of Mashonaland West has escalated to national level as it has been turned into a power scramble between the factions in Zanu PF. What is even more intriguing is that there are several politburo members who are supporting their people and want to impose them on the people of the province.”
“The fight to replace President Mugabe is clearly evident in this battle for control of Mashonaland West. The game is becoming dirty everyday, with people approaching President Mugabe while others have even gone to the extent of soliciting for support from service chiefs.”
“In many senses, the coming in of Chiyangwa has worsened an already volatile situation because he is said to be unpopular. People in the province are saying they don’t want someone who was arrested for spying and who was a police officer in Rhodesia to lead them. The game will become dirtier and President Mugabe will have to come in and save the situation,” said a top Zanu PF source.
Besides Chiyangwa, several other candidates in the province have showed interest in the post, which was left vacant following the death of acting chairman Robert Sikanyika two weeks ago.
The others who are said to be interested in the position are Reuben Marumahoko, Walter Chidhakwa, Faber Chidarikire, Christopher Shumba, Bright Matonga, Themba Mliswa and John Mafa who was deposed from the same position recently.
Mafa has been appealing to Zanu PF’s national disciplinary committee to reverse his dismissal from the chairperson’s position.
Zanu PF’s political commissar Webster Shamu is reportedly pushing for Marumahoko to lead the province, while politburo member Ignatius Chombo is said to be supporting Chidhakwa. This could not be verified last night.
However, Mutasa rubbished reports that there were attempts to impose Chiyangwa on the people saying everyone interested in the post would be allowed to contest.
“Mashonaland West province lobbied for Phillip Chiyangwa to be retained in the party,” Mutasa said. “The normal thing is that people nominate the candidate through an election. Everyone from the party in the province will vote. No-one will impose candidates. Card carrying people will vote like in any other province. Why should it be different for Mashonaland West province?” he said.
When contacted for comment, Chiyangwa said he could neither deny nor confirm his interest in the post.
“I just got my letter of being rehabilitated into the party today (Thursday) and I haven’t set foot in Mashonaland West. I am just reading from the newspapers about my candidature and of course I am excited and enthused that people are still interested in me seven years down the line,” Chiyangwa said.
Chiyangwa could not take questions on claims that some party stalwarts in the province still regard him as a ‘sell-out’ and that his candidature has divided Zanu PF. He said he did not want to talk about the past.
He also denied claims doing the rounds that he was splashing money to ensure that he wins the post “at all costs.” – Daily News