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Anti-Mujuru demo flops

By Lloyd Mbiba and Fungi Kwaramba

Plans by the Zanu PF faction loyal to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to unseat all provincial chairpersons perceived to be sympathetic to Vice President Joice Mujuru swung into high gear in Mashonaland East with a choreographed but failed demonstration against regional party boss Ray Kaukonde in Marondera.

HUMAN BARRICADE: Anti-riot police block a group of war veterans and youths who were demonstrating for the ouster of Ray Kaukonde and his Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial executive in Marondera.
HUMAN BARRICADE: Anti-riot police block a group of war veterans and youths who were demonstrating for the ouster of Ray Kaukonde and his Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial executive in Marondera.

This latest assault on a sitting provincial chairperson — following similar recent thuggish attacks in Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland — motivated party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo to observe ruefully that Zanu PF’s ugly factional and succession wars were now a threat to both the country’s precarious economy and President Robert Mugabe’s legacy.

The poorly-executed anti-Kaukonde demonstration — fronted by a few youths bussed-in from Harare and surrounding farms, as well as a smattering of war veterans — turned out to be an anti-Mujuru event in effect, with Gumbo describing the demo as “a total flop”.

“It flopped. People who attended that so-called demonstration are farm workers and grassroots supporters, including those who lost primary elections last year. It was a total flop.”

Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who was in the area and was accosted by the toyi-toying yobs, told the mob that the fate of Kaukonde could only be addressed when the party holds its congress in December next month.

“I have heard your grievances. I will take them up. Some of them take time to address while others might be dealt with quickly.”

Pressured by some among the crowd to dump Kaukonde, Sekeramayi said, “There are ways in which party leaders, be they at cell, district or province are elected or removed”.

Kaukonde, seen as a key Mujuru ally, has come under pressure from both Mugabe and his wife Grace to step down. But to the dismay of the First Family and his other party enemies, this is proving to be a difficult task as he enjoys overwhelming support in Mashonaland East.

Analysts have said the plans by some party bigwigs to unseat Zanu PF provincial chairpersons perceived to be sympathetic to Mujuru ahead of the party’s crucial elective congress in early December, were generally proving to be a failure.

The Mashonaland East provincial coordinating committee (PCC) defied Mugabe, Grace and Mnangagwa’s supporters at the weekend, saying they had full confidence in the beleaguered Kaukonde.

Sources who attended that PCC meeting said central committee member and Marondera West legislator, Retired Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri moved the motion that the province fully backed Kaukonde.

“Mutinhiri was the one who got the ball rolling by stating that the province fully backs the executive, including plans to expel Mujuru allies…. (David) Chapfika seconded the motion and said the province was united in its support of the executive,” one of the sources said.

In the Midlands PCC meeting held on Saturday, plans to suspend provincial chairman Jason Machaya also hit a brick wall after his supporters apparently mobilised youths and war veterans to demonstrate against his ouster.

“The attempted vote-of-no-confidence failed to take place as war veterans, youths and women who support Machaya countered it at the conference, waving placards and denouncing factionalism,” a party insider who attended the meeting said.

“So, in the end they, (Mnangagwa’s supporters) could not go ahead with their plan. The meeting then went ahead with deliberations on the forthcoming congress,” the source added.

Similarly, a provincial executive council (PEC) meeting held on Saturday in Masvingo and attended by 35 members, affirmed Retired Brigadier-General Callisto Gwanetsa’s leadership of the province.

The PEC meeting also unanimously resolved to pass a vote of no confidence in Gwanetsa’s deputy, Paradzai Chakona.

Gwanetsa is said to have argued that his purported suspension was a nullity as Chakona had not followed proper procedures.

In Harare, sources said there are continuing plots to oust chairperson Amos Midzi also for allegedly fanning factionalism, a fate also facing Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson John Mvundura.

All these machinations led party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo to speak against the expulsions of provincial chairmen on Friday.

“I have heard about Gwanetsa and am surprised. Is this how things are done? We are aware that there is a congress but some of the things happening are not okay,” Gumbo said then.

Temba Mliswa was ousted as the Mashonaland West chairman earlier this month and the politburo has since moved to affirm the decision against all expectations.

In a statement yesterday, Gumbo said the country’s battered economy had been the biggest casualty of the protracted and ugly wars devouring Zanu PF.

Gumbo, one of only two remaining members of the Dare ReChimurenga council that directed the liberation war, said the factional fights have caused “unprecedented levels of tension within the party with the result that our focus has shifted from our core business as the party of government”.

With the majority of Zimbabweans living on less than a dollar a day, and social services such as health bogged down by strikes and serious underfunding, Gumbo said it was now time that the ruling party addressed the pressing economic challenges facing the country.

“The time has come to redirect that focus back to our main purpose and to ensure that we chart the best economic way forward for the Zimbabwean people in line with our election pledges and consistent with the aspirations of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (ZimAsset),” he said.

In a rare admission by the ruling class of the many crises bedevilling the country, Gumbo said it was an open secret that “many of our people are struggling to make ends meet as the current economic climate, exacerbated by years of damaging economic sanctions, takes its toll”.

According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), more than 80 percent of the economically active people are unemployed.

Water and electricity remain in critically short supply while Zanu PF heavyweights are involved in a war of attrition that many fear could lead to bloodbath and the final death of the local economy.

Referring to the current economic situation as “desperate”, Gumbo said it was time “for an urgent change of priorities”.

With the economy in freefall and the business community pensive, primarily because of the infighting in Zanu PF, Gumbo said Mugabe’s legacy was also at stake.

“Anyone who seeks to push personal and factional interests at a time like this, where millions of our people are suffering and many investors are sitting on the fence pursuing a wait-and-see-approach, is not only selfish, insensitive and on the wrong side of history, but is also tarnishing the good name of the party and drawing unnecessary hatred towards the same.

“This is not only detrimental to our future electoral prospects but has the real danger of tarnishing President Mugabe’s otherwise splendid reputation and legacy,” Gumbo said.

The Marondera demonstrators were carrying placards written, “Ray and His Executive Must Go”, “Pamberi NaBaba NaMai Mugabe”, “War Vets Varamba Tonga-Watonga” and “Baba Havagarwe Nhaka Vari Vapenyu”. Daily News

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