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Harare East, window to understanding Zanu PF factionalism

By Freddy Mutoda

The Harare East by-election contest between two Zanu-PF candidates, Mavis Gumbo and Terence Mukupe, has come as a blessing to the country for it is unravelling deep secrets within Zanu PF that might help expose the duplicity characterising our politics and the attendant corruption that drives Zanu PF programmes and activities.

Mavis Gumbo and Terence Mukupe
Mavis Gumbo and Terence Mukupe

Suddenly the fissures that the private media, especially the Daily News, have been reporting on and the fallouts and disintegration of the party which Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, chooses to refer to as “tissues” is now being confirmed by party functionaries like self-styled war veteran Victor Matemadanda.

Zanu PF, through its spokesperson Khaya Moyo and the often pliable The Herald newspaper, has been denying that factionalism is worse now compared to the time when former Vice President Dr Joice Mujuru was the second secretary of the party.

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Gang of Four exists

It is now confirmed, courtesy of the Harare East instigated fights, that there is a Gang of Four and party cadres calling themselves Generation 40 (G40) wanting to take-over power reins in 2023 or earlier and that this group has the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and secretary for science and technology, Jonathan Moyo as key members.

What has not been established is the power behind these main protagonists and where the financial resources to drive their agenda are coming from although a security sector hand and the First Family have, at some point used the group for expediency and self-preservation.

Reliable sources within Zanu PF have revealed that the activities of the Gang of Four, especially the operation to oust Mujuru was bankrolled by a local businessman in the petroleum industry who has close links with the First Family and Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo as well as one wealthy minister in government alleged to have looted hundreds of millions of dollars. The operation was then coordinated and executed by army officials close to the group.

When the group embarked on the drive to remove Mujuru, it enlisted ancillaries to form what the Herald referred to as the “clean dozen” who included Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Prisca Mupfumira, Makhosini Ndlongwane , Josiah Hungwe, Patrick Zhuwawo, Oppah Muchinguri, Edna Madzongwe, Monica Mutsvangwa, Ignatius Chombo and Phillip Chiyangwa, and at this point, the overarching objective was “to remove Mujuru and remain with one centre of power in Zanu-PF” the sources allege.

The group, however, did not agree on how that single centre of power could be maintained in light of the new appointments that needed to be done to fill in the vacancies left by Mujuru and the late Vice President John Landa Nkomo and the fissures that are showing now, courtesy of the Harare East saga are a result of that unresolved issue of how the spoils were to be shared after Mujuru’s demise.

The core of the group, which included Moyo, Kasukuwere and Zhuwawo wanted the appointed vice presidents to be people without massive grassroots appeal, hence their preference for Phelekezela Mphoko and Edna Madzongwe. This was expedient in that such a situation would ensure the succession issue remained unresolved and anyone would have an equal chance to succeed Mugabe if an extraordinary congress to fill in an anticipated vacancy in the presidency could be held.

The G40 gang hinged their succession plans on the argument that Mujuru and Vice Mnangagwa were faction leaders who needed to be side-lined and Moyo, in an interview with Owen Gagare of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper in November 2013, argued that the succession issue was far from solved and that both Mujuru and Mnangagwa were faction leaders devoid of any sound ideological grounding hence both would should not succeed Mugabe.

For the G40, the ouster of Mujuru was supposed to be followed by at least a demotion of Mnangagwa not his elevation and when he was appointed Vice President, fissures then began to emerge and the G40 began to re-strategise and Kasukuwere’s post of political commissar became central and the restructuring of the party a key exercise, to prepare for the young Turks to take-over control of the party earlier than what had been planned.

The by-elections presented an opportunity to ensure the new legislators coming in were part of the G40 and this has now created turmoil especially in Harare East where the fight to fill in the vacant legislative seat has led to accusations and counter accusations of corruption and candidate imposition.

What’s so special about Harare East?

But what is really important about Harare East that the senior party officials would rather have the party disintegrate?

The Harare East situation is just an opportunity that the young Turks are seizing to express deep-seated concerns about how they have been treated post-Mujuru and a public manifestation of already frosty relationships emanating from differences on how the party should move forward post the December 2014 congress and the ouster of Mujuru.

The G40 is angling to take control of the youth and women’s leagues and the restructuring exercise going on in provinces would claim scalps like Godwin Gomwe, a one-time ally in the fight to remove Mujuru, who has, however, become an enemy in the Harare East contest.

The group, fronted by Kasukuwere, would ensure favourable party constitutional provisions are adhered to, and in the case of Gomwe, the clause which imposes an upper age limit of 35 years on all youth leaders will be used to remove him and put instead young dynamic leaders who share in the vision of a youthful Zanu PF presidential candidate in 2018.

What has, however, complicated issues, especially in the case of Harare East, is that Mavis Gumbo, the candidate who is contesting against the G40 choice, has close links with the First Family and played an important role in ensuring medical bills for President Robert Mugabe’s sister Bridget were taken care of by the society.

It is also surprising why, after the so-called Salarygate in which Gumbo, along-side her former boss Cuthbert Dube, featured prominently, Zanu-PF is too eager to be represented by such a character.

But as the country continues to burn under a precipitous economic decline and gnawing corruption, do we still deserve leaders whose preoccupation is power for the sake of looting national resources or this is time for people centred politics, politics which put the livelihood of people first?

We certainly deserve better than the G40, G90 and gang of four or gay-gangster politics in Zimbabwe. This is time for progressive Zimbabweans to coalesce and fight the evil among us. Hallelujah! Daily News