Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

ZUNDE faction suffers defections

By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |

The locally-based faction of the Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE) party last week suffered numerous defections, shortly after its leader, Farai Mbira, announced a new leadership.

Farai Mbira
Farai Mbira

Mbira confirmed the immediate departure of Robert Tapfumanei, a journalist who he recently appointed secretary for information and publicity and was part of the executive management team.

The faction president told his backers that Tapfumanei had announced his departure to reportedly pursue new professional interests, adding that a replacement must be found urgently.

Mbira convened a national leadership convention on 17 June in Harare where he formed the new leadership, but his externally-based counterparts at the helm of the party disowned the meeting and expelled him for allegedly running the party as a personal project.

The statement of expulsion was jointly issued by Benjamin Paradza, a former judge and acting deputy president, Moses Chamboko, the interim secretary general and John Huruva, the acting international relations secretary.

They are resident in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, respectively.

Former judge in Zimbabwe Justice Benjamin Paradza
Former judge in Zimbabwe Justice Benjamin Paradza

Nehanda Radio established that Elliot Mushai, who Mbira made deputy secretary general slightly more than two weeks ago, had also left, but he could not be reached for a comment.

Steven Mutusva, who insists he is still the national organising secretary but was made the deputy in charge of security by Mbira, declined his new appointment.

“The meeting Mbira convened was bogus. I am not part of his team because I am not sure of his agenda. All those appointments were unilateral and it is not true that a properly constituted convention elected the new leadership which is stuffed with his relatives,” said Mutusva.

Numerous other party members who were purportedly elected at the convention are said to have also disowned the meeting and said they learnt of their new positions through a statement that is currently circulating.

Of the seven provincial chairpersons that were announced on 17 June, Mbira reportedly only has the full backing of Giant Chidzumo who is said to be his brother-in-law.

Moses Chamboko
Moses Chamboko

Nehanda Radio was told Anyway Mukarakati who Mbira made provincial chair for Manicaland and one Muzingi (Chitungwiza) had also opted out, insisting on a constitutionally held convention.

“While we are flattered that Mbira appointed us to leadership positions, we are not happy that he did so without following laid down procedure,” said Mutusva.

According to the report issued by the Mbira faction, the leader gave his younger brother, Charles, the double appointment of National Executive Committee (NEC) secretary and national administrator.

Gift Kandoto, allegedly Mbira’s nephew, is now in charge of youth affairs but party members said he was smuggled into the executive team without their knowledge, together with Brian Sibanda, the new deputy national chairperson, who they said they did not know.

The Mbira camp, according to the report that Nehanda Radio saw, resolved to set up a committee to change the constitution in order to give its leader the power to appoint “five competent members” whose roles were, however, not specified.

Most of the executive team members that Mbira appointed are either based abroad or were not aware of the leadership convention, which was organised by Kandoto, Charles Mbira and Onismo Hweta, who sources said is also related to Mbira.

These executive members include founding members, Paradza, Chamboko, Huruva, Eldridge Culverwell (treasurer general), Melody Mavezha (women’s affairs) Nehemia Mavetera (ICT) and Lindiwe Chopamba (women’s external assembly).

Mbira has already announced the expulsion of Paradza, Chamboko and Huruva and accused them of hijacking the party website.

The external leadership is said to have written to Zimbabwean political parties asking them not to accommodate Mbira in ongoing electoral reform and coalition talks. Nehanda Radio