By Patrice Makova
HARARE- Zanu PF’s heavyweights are in a bitter fight over Phillip Chiyangwa with information emerging that the businessman has once again been cleared to stand in elections for the vacant post of provincial chairperson slated for later this month.
Sources told The Standard that fresh squabbles have hit Zanu PF with senior politburo members divided on whether to allow Chiyangwa to contest the post after the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa wrote to the businessman confirming his re-admittance to the party after a five-year suspension period.
Zanu PF central committee member Tony Mwanza confirmed that some senior party officials were trying to bar Chiyangwa from contesting as they felt threatened by his “popularity” in the province. “Certain senior party officials who I cannot name are trying to impose people they can easily control,” he said.
“They will face resistance from the people because Chiyangwa is popular throughout the province. He managed to unite party members when he was chairman. The man has paid for whatever mistakes he has made in the past and must now be allowed back.”
Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya- Moyo last month presented a report to the party’s recent annual national people’s conference in Bulawayo which stated that Chiyangwa’s re-admission was not an issue because he had not re-applied.
But on November 9 2011, Mutasa had written to Chiyangwa advising him about his re-admission.
“This letter serves to advise you that the Zanu PF politburo sitting at its Ordinary Session on 2nd of November 2011 at Zanu PF Headquarters resolved to re-admit you back into Zanu PF party at the expiry of your period of expulsion on 20 March 2011,” says the letter.
A Mashonaland West provincial executive member said the decision would be challenged.
“We are working to block Chiyangwa from becoming chairman because he uses money to buy power and influence,” said the member who requested anonymity.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Chiyangwa was indeed now a full member of the party but added that the businessman would, for the time being, remain an ordinary card carrying “cadre”.
“The central committee report presented to the national people’s conference incorrectly said Chiyangwa has not been re-admitted,” said Gumbo. “What Mutasa wrote is the correct position, but he left out that Chiyangwa will be an ordinary member until further notice to allow us to monitor his performance.”
Sources said when the Chiyangwa issue came for discussion in the politburo, the party’s political commissar Webster Shamu and Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo opposed his re-admission.
But Defence Industries boss Colonel Tshinga Dube, Senator for Mwenezi Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Senate President Edna Madzongwe and President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao are said to have fought on behalf of Chiyangwa.
“At the end of the day, it was Mugabe himself who saved Chiyangwa declaring that he can rejoin the party,” said a politburo member.
Sources said at least three Zanu PF factions have emerged in Mashonaland West as party chiefs in the province fight to have their preferred candidates elected to the powerful post which fell vacant following the death of the then-acting-chairman Robert Sikanyika in a car accident in April last year.
A faction which has the “ears” of the most senior party official in the province and politburo member Nathan Shamuyarira is said to be pushing for Chiyangwa’s candidature. On the other hand Chombo is said to be sponsoring Zvimba South MP and Deputy Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals Walter Chidhakwa.
Shamu, who is also Media, Information and Publicity minister is lobbying for the current acting chairman Reuben Marumahoko, sources said. Expelled former chairman John Mafa is also in the running. Chombo and Shamu could not be reached for comment.
With elections expected to take place later this year, the post of chairman is critical in the selection of candidates to represent the party and eventually a possible successor for Mugabe. Chiyangwa was suspended by Zanu PF in 2005 after he was arrested but later acquitted on charges of espionage. Zimbabwe Standard