Vice President Joice Mujuru came out tops in the Zanu PF special politburo meeting held on Saturday after the party endorsed provincial executive elections that were held in the Midlands, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland provinces. In those polls most Mujuru loyalists prevailed.
President Mugabe returned home after a week-long visit to the Middle East to chair the special meeting at the party headquarters after fierce infighting had spilled over into the State Media during the week.
Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo said it was resolved the party will work on the programme for the impending polls in the remaining seven provinces.
Addressing journalists after the meeting which lasted over six hours, Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity Rugare Gumbo said the decision was taken following frank discussions.
“The Politburo met for the greater part of Saturday and made a number of decisions. The first decision was to reaffirm provincial elections for Manicaland, the Midlands and Mashonaland Central,” he said.
“The second was the endorsement of provincial executives for Mashonaland Central. With respect to the Midlands, there is a caveat. A report was made about the Youth League chairman, Edson Samambwa. People felt that because the young man had participated in the elections even though he was more than 35 years old, he should be given the benefit of doubt.”
Gumbo said the Politburo also discussed the programme of conducting the elections, which will be held this Saturday.
“The next issue we tackled was the programme for conducting of elections in the seven provinces that remain. These elections will be held on 30 November. They will be held simultaneously throughout the country. The programme will be worked out by the national chairman, leading to the election on 30 November,” he said.
“The national chairman is calling upon all chairpersons of the seven provinces and provincial ministers to attend a meeting at party headquarters on Wednesday 27 November.”
“There was a robust debate on the challenges the party is facing, conflicting statements coming out in the Press, mudslinging which was going on and as a revolutionary party, we have been urged by His Excellency to try and reconcile our views to try and make sure that the party succeeds.
“We have a major programme, Zim Asset, which needs to be implemented and fulfil the aspirations of the people who voted for us in July.”
Asked to comment on the divisions and irregularities that were reported during the elections in the three provinces, Gumbo said:
“We are going to work hard to ensure that the party is united. I don’t know where people are getting this notion that Zanu-PF is chaotic from.
“It’s a creation of the media. It is you, journalists, who want to project the party in a negative way.
“According to the report, which we got from Cde Nhema, the elections (in Mashonaland Central) went on well, smoothly. So, everything is okay, but let’s not have this inbuilt attempt to tarnish the image of the party.
“The President was so calm and cool as a tried and tested leader and he wanted to make sure that we are all together in terms of our thinking and our approach. There was robust debate about the challenges that the party is facing. We will try and work hard to unite the party.”
The party spokesperson said logistical challenges were evident during the elections.
“The major problem was the lack of transport, but on Saturday, all logistics, ballot papers and boxes will be provided by the party. (Secretary for Administration) Cde Didymus Mutasa has already indicated that everything was in place for those elections on Saturday.
“No candidate will provide resources for the elections. It is being done by the party.”
ZANU PF, which romped to electoral ‘victory’ in the July elections but is failing to lift millions out of poverty, is embroiled in an internal struggle between two factions led by Vice President Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Justice Minister.
In the politiburo meeting held last week “Mai Mujuru complained to President Mugabe that she was tired of people who are over-ambitious showing scant respect for the party leadership. She even went further to warn the president that if he is not careful the same people will end up targeting his post,” according to a source.
The gloves were off in that meeting as Mnangagwa and Mujuru (in front of Mugabe) openly traded bitter accusations and counter-accusations of candidate imposition, vote-buying and manipulation of provincial election results.
The recent provincial elections have brought tensions to a boil between the factions as the two party stalwarts try to position themselves to take over when the 89-year-old Mugabe steps down.
The provincial structures are seen as vital in choosing members of the presidium at the December 2014 elective congress. This is why they’ve now become the battleground between the warring factions. Anyone who can control six out of the 10 provinces will eventually ascend to the party presidency.
The party was on Monday forced to cancel this weekend’s provincial elections to pave way for the politburo meeting, in which Mugabe is set to intervene in the factional fighting.