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Tension in ZANU-PF Women’s League

HARARE – There is tension within the Women’s League amid indications that the purges reverberating across ZANU-PF structures could spill into this organ as well, resulting in some of its key executives being shown the door.

Oppah Muchinguri and Grace Mugabe
Oppah Muchinguri and Grace Mugabe

As a result, anxiety has set in among Women’s League members linked to a faction associated with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa — seen as President Robert Mugabe’s heir apparent.

Across party provinces, there are attempts to weaken the Vice President’s perceived allies in the hope of derailing Mnangagwa’s chances of landing the presidency in the event that the incumbent retires from active politics.

In Mashonaland East, Joe Biggie Matiza, an ally of Mnangagwa, is fighting to remain in his position of provincial chairman, after daggers were drawn against him. In Masvingo, Paradzai Chakona, was booted out of the chair. Goodwills Masimirembwa was also shown the exits in Harare province, where he was interim chairman.

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Indications are that the purges are heading in the Women’s League’s direction, targeting anyone aligned to Mnangagwa. Several Women’s League bigwigs may, therefore, find themselves fighting a battle of their lives to retain their positions for belonging to the “wrong basket”.

They include Shuvai Mahofa, the secretary for security; Monica Mutsvangwa, the secretary for information and publicity; and Mabel Chinomona, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, who is the league’s political commissar.

Mutsvangwa, Mahofa and Chinomona are said to be Mnangagwa’s allies.

Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxilia and Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, are also targeted for attacks, despite not being members of the Women’s League national executive.

Muchinguri-Kashiri has been on knife-edge since the leakage in June of an audio tape in which she was recorded allegedly plotting against fellow party members in Manicaland.

The case has been subject of debate in the Politburo – ZANU-PF’s highest decision-making organ outside congress – with President Mugabe at one point reading the riot act against her. At the centre of the plot is a group going by the name, “Golden Girls”.

Their motives appear to dovetail with those of Generation 40, a grouping of young Turks in the ruling party, who seek to reform ZANU-PF from within. Their motives appear to contradict the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, who has been calling for unity among ZANU-PF cadres.

As the Women’s League boss, the First Lady has also been speaking strongly against factionalism, which is weakening ZANU-PF. “The Golden girls” are lobbying for Muchinguri-Kashiri to be posted to another country as an ambassador so as to keep her out of the loop and picture,” a source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mutsvangwa initially advised this reporter to call her at a later time as she was locked in a meeting, but was thereafter not picking calls.

Well-placed sources said after a botched attempt to get rid of Manicaland provincial Women’s League chairperson, Happiness Nyakuedzwa, there are renewed attempts to complete the mission, this time at a wider scale.

Eunice Sandi Moyo, the deputy Women’s League boss; Hurungwe East legislator and the league’s national secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka; Senate president, Edna Madzongwe and Simeli Dube, a members off the organ, are believed to be among those pushing for “the cleansing” of the wing.

Sandi Moyo this week said she was unaware of any such plots when contacted for comment, laughing off the suggestion that she was part of the Golden girls.

“I don’t know about that. All I know is that a delegation of the Women’s League went to China on the business of the organ and if someone is saying there is a plot which came out of that, then that is news to me,” she said.

“If someone is saying I am part of any group called ‘Golden girls’, then I take that as an honour, for at least someone is recognising that I am golden.”

Mahoka’s mobile phone was repeatedly unreachable.

The ZANU-PF ship has been rocking by factional tides that have failed to ebb even after the sacking of Joice Mujuru, the former vice president, who was accused of leading a faction that plotted to unconstitutionally remove President Mugabe from power. The Financial Gazette