By Andrew Kunambura
ZANU-PF factions are squabbling over a proposal from five provinces to re-admit members who were expelled from the party as well as rescinding the suspensions of those cadres who were sidelined from party activities for hobnobbing with former vice president Joice Mujuru, the Financial Gazette can exclusively report.
Since the party’s December 2014 congress, a total of 201 members have been suspended and 14 expelled from ZANU-PF for supporting Mujuru, who was fired from the ruling party and government for undermining President Robert Mugabe’s authority.
Mujuru has since formed an opposition political party called the Zimbabwe People First, which is currently mobilising support ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.
So far, ZANU-PF has re-admitted only seven of the 50 members who filed appeals with the party’s National Appeals Committee (NAC), chaired by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, while the remaining cadres await their fate.
Among those who were either re-admitted into the party or had their suspensions lifted are heavyweights namely Nicholas Goche, Webster Shamu (pictured), Francis Nhema, Flora Buka, Jason Machaya, Chiratidzo Mabuwa and Fred Moyo, who were counted among Mujuru’s acolytes.
Mujuru had fought a long, bruising battle with Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Mugabe, who has been at the helm of ZANU-PF and government since the fall of the colonial regime in April 1980.
Her presidential bid collapsed like a deck of cards in 2014 when she, along with her key backers, was dismissed from the ruling party for allegedly attempting a failed palace coup on the incumbent.
But as the party prepares for its national people’s conference to be held in Masvingo next week, Harare, Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland South provinces have recommended that ZANU-PF should pardon members it suspended and expelled after the 2014 congress.
One of the factions in the ruling party, Team Lacoste, has immediately raised the red flag, saying the list of beneficiaries of the amnesty did not include vocal members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA)’s national executive who are allies of Mnangagwa who replaced Mujuru as Vice President in 2014.
On top of the list of Mnangagwa̓s allies is ZNLWVA chairman, Christopher Mutsvangwa, and other members of his executive, among them Douglas Mahiya and Victor Matemadanda, who were dismissed from ZANU-PF sometime this year for insubordination.
Also conspicuous by their absence from the proposed pardon are former provincial chairmen for Mashonaland East, Masvingo and Midlands, namely Joel Biggie Matiza, Ezra Chadzamira and Kizito Chivamba, as well as former youth leader Pupurai Togarepi and other provincial youth chairmen, who were known for their closeness to Mnangagwa.
Team Lacoste is thus alleging that their rivals in Generation 40 (G40) are attempting to beef up their faction ahead of the 2018 general elections, by integrating into the party individuals who had fought alongside Mujuru, to derail Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions.
By bringing them onboard, Team Lacoste is alarmed that G40 wants the party to either re-admit or lift suspensions on those cadres who may be having scores to settle with Mnangagwa.
It is thought that Mujuru’s former allies are bitter with Mnangagwa and would not support his bid to succeed President Mugabe in the event that he leaves office because they hold the Vice President responsible for their woes.
They would, therefore, likely align themselves with G40, whose members are currently subject of corruption investigations instigated by their Team Lacoste rivals.
ZANU-PF deputy-secretary for legal affairs, Paul Mangwana, could not be drawn into shedding more light on the nature of the resolutions made by the party’s 10 provinces a week ago.
He said the party’s legal affairs department was yet to receive the full list of the proposed resolutions.
“We will receive all resolutions from provinces and party organs during the course of the conference for consolidation. At that point, we will be able to say something. At the moment, we are simply hearing different versions coming through and we cannot comment on unofficial reports,” he said.
However, his department, which is dominated by Team Lacoste, has trashed the Women’s League resolution seeking to tweak with the party’s constitution to allow for the return of the women’s quota for positions in the party’s presidium.
The resolution, presented at last year’s conference in December, was viewed by Team Lacoste as targeted at Mnangagwa.
The women had particularly demanded that they wanted the change to be effected by the end of this year but are now suggesting that this could be done in 2019 after elections.
So contentious was the proposal that the party left the conference without tabling the resolutions for adoption, the first time this has ever happened.
Masvingo provincial political commissar, Jappy Jaboon, confirmed that Masvingo had recommended that the suspensions be lifted.
“It was recommended that all Members of Parliament’s suspensions be lifted unconditionally,” Jaboon said.
He, however, denied reports that the decision was part of a campaign to weaken Mnangagwa.
“The resolutions came from the people and people’s views must be respected because we draw our mandate from the mass of Zimbabwe,” he said.
If this resolution is adopted, Chivi North MP, Tranos Huruba, Chiredzi South legislator, and former Masvingo provincial chairman, Callisto Gwanetsa, Paul Chimedza (Gutu South) and Tongai Muzenda (Gutu central) could bounce back in the party.
Matabeleland South province has also recommended the return of former chairman, Andrew Langa.
Interim provincial chairman, Rabelani Choeni, confirmed this but refused to shed more light.
“I have already submitted that (resolution). I don’t want to talk about it,” he said.
Harare province resolved to set up a provincial disciplinary committee chaired by provincial political commissar, Shadreck Mashayamombe, to try its executive member, Robert Kahanana, a perceived Mnangagwa ally who is accused of mocking the party leadership on social media following its humiliating defeat in the Norton National Assembly by-election.
Mashayamombe refused to comment, referring questions to provincial spokesman, Abisha Ushewokunze, who could not be reached.
Manicaland provincial chairman, Samuel Undenge, referred questions to provincial secretary for administration, Kenneth Saruchera, saying he did not attend the inter district meeting that passes the resolution as he had travelled out of the country.
Saruchera confirmed that the resolution was made, but said it only had to do with Chipinge South MP, Enoch Porusingazi and no one else.
“The issue came from Chipinge where people were appealing for his suspension to be lifted on the basis that he was repentant and working well with people in his constituency. It was debated and supported and we have duly submitted the recommendation for his re-admission,” Saruchera said.
Mnangagwa’s supporters argued that provinces had no basis to petition conference to lift the suspension of members.
According to the party’s constitution, such cases are handled by the national disciplinary committee.
However, the committee was recently stripped of those powers after the establishment of NAC.
Team Lacoste members, however, argue that Mphoko’s committee is not provided for in the 2014 party constitution, but this has not prevented it from clearing or re-admitting a number of former heavyweights such as Goche, Shamu, Nhema and Buka.
Some senior party members are now claiming that allegations that Mujuru attempted a coup against President Mugabe were mere political banter.
At the time, Mujuru was tussling with Mnangagwa whom she had dramatically upstaged to land the vice presidency in 2004.
With Mujuru out of the picture, Mnangagwa is now battling to outfox G40, consisting largely of Young Turks.
G40 has since assumed control of provincial structures.
In a recent development, Mashonaland Central province proposed to amend the party’s constitution in order to allow party members to vote for President Mugabe’s two deputies. Financial Gazette