By Fungi Kwaramba
Succession battles in Zanu PF escalated yesterday as it emerged that the confusion surrounding the burial of the late senior party official Shuvai Mahofa is being caused by the party’s warring two factions with one of the groups not keen on having acting President Phelekezela Mphoko preside over her burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare today.
Zanu PF is split between two warring factions, Team Lacoste and Generation 40 (G40) and there were concerns that were raised by the former camp, to which Mahofa was a key member, that their own could not be buried by Mphoko who allegedly is sympathetic to the G40 faction.
Despite government’s intervention on Friday through Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, who is also Zanu PF’s secretary for administration and subsequent declaration that Mahofa would be buried today, there was a flurry of activities in Masvingo as the disgruntled Team Lacoste faction tried to stop the funeral proceedings and wanted to push the burial to Wednesday.
The Daily News on Sunday has been told that one faction opposed to Mphoko is pushing the date to Wednesday so that President Robert Mugabe, who is away in South Africa for the Sadc summit presides.
Mahofa, known as the Iron Lady of Masvingo died on Monday last week and was declared a national hero, but what was supposed to be a mellowing reward was thrown into turmoil after it became clear that Mugabe, who is currently in South Africa, will not be able to take charge of the funeral at the Heroes Acre—something that will now be done by his deputy Mphoko.
Zanu PF provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira could neither confirm nor deny reports that the family and Lacoste faction would have preferred someone else to be in charge of the funeral.
“As far as we know, officially the burial will take place tomorrow (today), that is the official position. However, the family was still requesting for a postponement of the burial because they are still waiting for some people who are out of the country to arrive,” said Chadzamira.
Asked whether the family or the province, known for pushing for Mnangagwa’s ascendancy and also holding a low opinion of Mphoko was comfortable with the acting president presiding over the burial, Chadzamira said it was not for him to comment.
“At last the family had agreed and as I speak the plane is on its way to Harare. I am not sure about who will preside over the funeral but it really doesn’t matter now,” said Chadzamira.
On Friday, Chombo told a press conference that they were some mischievous elements who wanted to confuse the situation.
“The family spoke about Saturday and moved it to Sunday. There could be some mischievous elements who were trying to confuse the situation, but the family and political leadership are at one that burial is on Sunday,” said Chombo.
Sources told the Daily News on Sunday that Mphoko will preside over the funeral something that will certainly cause discomfort among the Team Lacoste faction that would have preferred their own to be in charge.
Mahofa was a darling of the Team Lacoste faction, which is campaigning for Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe.
And rather naturally, she had no sympathisers among members of the Generation 40 (G40) faction who could be shedding crocodile tears following her sudden death.
At Mahofa’s funeral in Masvingo last week, suspected G40 officials were chased away from the Mahofa home by Lacoste members who accused them of plotting to poison people.
Mahofa was popularly known for her passion in dancing so much such that she collapsed while on the dance floor at one of Zanu PF’s gatherings.
Despite her advanced age and the fact that she was not really good at it, Mahofa never slowed down on dancing.
She was also part of a growing breed of Zanu PF politicians who owe their ascendance to influential positions to praise-singing for Mugabe.
Having presided over a fractious province, Mahofa’s death has divided opinion in Zanu PF over whether she deserves a place at the National Heroes Acre.
Her death comes less than two months after the death of renowned freedom fighter and musician, Dick Chingaira, popularly known as Cde Chinx, who was denied national hero status.
She is survived by four children and 27 grandchildren. Daily News