By Mugove Tafirenyika and Blessings Mashaya
The old guard in Zanu PF has all but hijacked President Robert Mugabe’s youth interface rally set for Masvingo tomorrow, amid indications that the event could be used as a platform to assert factional preferences.
Party insiders told the Daily News yesterday that Zanu PF politburo members, Josiah Hungwe and Shuvai Mahofa, have virtually taken over the planning and organisation of the rally — the third to be addressed by Mugabe this month.
Instead of making it an all-inclusive event, the Zanu PF bigwigs who are linked to a faction campaigning for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe are said to have shut out their perceived foes, including some of the provincial youth league executive members in Masvingo, from the preparations.
So heavily involved are the Zanu PF politburo members in the thick of things that even provincial chairperson-elect, Ezra Chadzamira, another ally of Mnangagwa, has been completely overshadowed, because they feel he is not yet ripe for such a demanding task.
The rumour mill has it that Mahofa and Hungwe want to use the youth interface rally to legitimise Chadzamira’s leadership, so that the politburo could endorse his election at its next meeting in Harare.
Chadzamira overwhelmingly won the hotly-contested Masvingo provincial polls last month against retired colonel Mutero Masanganise, who is linked to the rival Generation 40 (G40) faction.
His leadership is yet to be endorsed by the ruling party’s supreme decision-making body in between congresses after Masanganise lodged an appeal, seeking the nullification of the result, citing irregularities in the manner the polls were conducted.
Mahofa and Hungwe are reportedly working with provincial youth league chairperson Norbert Ndaarombe, seen as sympathetic to their cause, and have elbowed out of the preparations for Mugabe’s arrival other youths suspected of backing G40.
At the provincial level, they are working with Alois Baloyi, the secretary for administration for the main wing.
The aggrieved youths are finding themselves in an awkward situation as they have become bystanders in preparations they should otherwise be spearheading.
This is unlike in Marondera, Mashonaland East, and Mutare, in Manicaland, where the organisation of Mugabe’s youths interface rallies was the responsibility of the Zanu PF youth league. Members of the party’s main wing only played a complementary role at the invitation of the youth league.
Zanu PF is split between two factions namely Team Lacoste, which is rooting for Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe and G40, which is opposed to the prospect of “the crocodile”, as Mnangagwa is affectionately known, taking over from the Zanu PF leader.
While Hungwe and Mahofa could not be reached for comment, Ndaarombe confirmed that the two are playing prominent roles in the organisation of the event.
“It is true that we are working with them because Mahofa, as the Provincial minister, will help us mobilise all civil servants in the province, while Hungwe is looking for funding because as youths we may not be able to do that on our own,” Ndaarombe said.
“The youths who are raising such issues are being used by outside forces because we are in control of our programme because we know it is ours but when the president is coming you cannot avoid working with our elders”.
While Mugabe has always relied on the party’s main wing to deliver votes during elections, the 93-year-old politician is increasingly leaning towards the party’s youth and women’s league for his 2018 campaign.
This follows his fallout last year with mainly war veterans, his former comrades in the country’s liberation struggle of the 1970s.
This, observers say is a result of Mugabe’s realisation that with the party sharply divided over his succession, there is a risk that the old guard may de-campaign him in the run up to next year’s polls. Daily News