By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – With Zanu PF’s brutal purges of perceived allies of former vice president Joice Mujuru not just escalating, but also worsening the party’s ugly factional and succession wars, its leaders are scrambling to limit the damage — amidst fears that the former liberation movement could implode completely.
Since the damp squib 2014 congress, Zanu PF has been divided into three factions one allegedly led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, another by First Lady Grace Mugabe while the Mujuru faction reportedly remains strong.
All the factions are said to be involved in deadly behind-the-scenes succession battles that could soon explode into the public domain.
Well-placed sources within the party told the Daily News that despite the public bravado by President Robert Mugabe and his senior lieutenants, there was serious concern that the chaos devouring the party could soon reach tipping point if it was not managed carefully as a matter of urgency.
“The turmoil within the party has reached such levels that even those who engineered it (the purges) now don’t know what to do to stop it.
“It’s panic stations at the top my brother,” a Zanu PF central committee member said.
Such is the concern about the situation among some leaders that party secretary for Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, urged Bulawayo province to unite and shun factionalism at the weekend, as the party begins preparations for the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 elections in which Mugabe, 91, is unlikely to participate.
Addressing supporters in the second city, Chinamasa openly expressed concern about the victimisation of party members perceived to have links to Mujuru and her allies.
“I believe that one of the major problems that the party is facing in Bulawayo is the existence of divisions. If you can’t unite and work together you are simply undermining yourselves. I want to emphasise the importance of working together for the benefit of the party.
“We expelled senior party officials from different provinces including Bulawayo and this obviously means that we still have party members who used to work with these people. I want to warn party members against victimising those people because that’s not politics,” he said.
Chinamasa’s concerns and warnings came as other party bigwigs, including Mugabe and his controversial wife Grace, have continued to threaten to boot out more people linked to Mujuru.
Among those mercilessly purged in the past few months are former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, who have been expelled from Zanu PF altogether — although the two liberation struggle stalwarts contend in their pending High Court application that their expulsions were illegal, and therefore null and void.
So bad are the party ructions and deadly factionalism that the farms and other properties of ousted party bigwigs are now under threat of being grabbed by belligerent members of the victorious party factions linked to Grace and Mnangagwa.
For example, in Masvingo’s Mwenezi District, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, the former Zanu PF minister of State for the province, is at the receiving end of a vicious onslaught, that threatens to not just soil his image, but also leave him both penniless and without a farm.
“The people who are orchestrating all these things are the people I defeated during the party primary elections.
“They want this seat and now they are doing everything to soil my image,” Bhasikiti said.
And to add fuel to the raging party factional fires, Mugabe recently warned Mujuru and her supporters that they faced imminent arrest for an assortment of untested allegations that include treason and corruption — although analysts said the threat was nothing more than factional victimisation by the nonagenarian.
During his lavish birthday celebrations in Victoria Falls two weeks ago, Mugabe also claimed that the Mujuru camp had misappropriated funds meant for the party’s chaotic youth conference that was held last year.
“We are today saying Gamatox group (Mujuru camp) wanted to overthrow the president, wanted even to kill him. You will remember that meeting of the youths.
“They had not prepared for it, they had not bought any food and now we discover lots of money had been given towards congress. Where did it go?
“Those are the things we are now discovering and once we discover that in fact that money was misused, vanofira mujeri (they will die in prison),” Mugabe said ominously.
Last week, the former Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland Central, Luke Mushore, was convicted of stealing a party vehicle engine and tyres valued at $5 000, although his allies claim the charges were trumped up and designed to silence him.
Retired, but hugely respected party elder, Cephas Msipa, was among the first prominent party members to criticise Mugabe openly last year for failing to deal with Zanu PF’s often violent infighting and for refusing to take advice on the party’s escalating factionalism.
In an interview with the Daily News that was carried in mid-October last year, Msipa said pointedly that he feared for the worst for Zanu PF if intra-party relations remained as fractious as they were currently.
“If people continue being dissatisfied with what is happening, it is possible to have a split. I think the president has the key to all these issues.
“I hate factionalism and if it continues I don’t know what will become of the party,” he said ruefully.
“And there is no seeming end in sight to the ruthless culling in the ruling party, with party legislators in the immediate line of fire including Murewa North’s Tendai Makunde, Masango Matambanadzo of Kwekwe Central, Goromonzi South’s Petronella Kagonye and Ray Kaukonde.
As a result, Mashonaland East provincial governor Joel Matiza is in the spotlight after his alleged role in “a brazen campaign” to remove Makunde and others, amid concerns that he is waging a personal war against his Zanu PF enemies.
“I went to war as a young man and even got disabled on the battle front, but some of these people (Matiza) who are leading this process to eject us do not even have the credentials I have for fighting for this country,” the Murewa North legislator fumed yesterday.
“By taking my opponent Daniel Garwe into my constituency, are they not confusing the electorate and seeking to derail my current projects and developmental work in the area?
“Besides, what have I done to deserve this kind of treatment from party colleagues and when we are supposed to be doing more to help communities?” the angry Makunde added. Daily News