Harare, August 3, 2014 – It is free for all in Zanu PF as the revolutionary party stalwarts jostle for positions ahead of the party’s elective congress pencilled in for December.
Following the entrance of First Lady Grace Mugabe into the political fray where she is guaranteed to become Zanu PF Women’s League boss, party bigwigs allegedly representing the interests of rival factions vying for top posts have openly stated their ambitions.
During the party’s celebrations to mark the first anniversary of its July 31, 2013 electoral victory, Webster Shamu, the Zanu PF political commissar touched a raw nerve when he introduced the party’s secretary for administration and minister of State for Presidential Affairs Didymus Mutasa as the acting national chairman.Shamu said Mutasa was the acting national chairman and was “acting finance” and a minister in the President’s Office during the introductions.
His remarks immediately drew the ire of party stalwarts who felt that the former Information minister was propping up Mutasa who reportedly aspires to replace the incumbent Simon Khaya Moyo. The latter is set to be elevated to the post of second vice president at the congress.
Shamu’s statements also re-ignited factionalism that has characterised the ruling party caused by the desire to replace 90-year-old leader President Robert Mugabe.
Though party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo Saturday tried to downplay Shamu’s antics, a storm is brewing in the 51-year-old party.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Gumbo told the Daily News on Sunday that Shamu’s statement was made in jest.
“When I heard it, I initially thought that it was meant to be the joke of the day given we were celebrating. Unfortunately, there are people who always want to stir controversy so they are taking this thing out of proportion,” said Gumbo adding that; “It is not me who made the introduction but Shamu. We are going to congress where leaders will be elected very soon and I really didn’t think that people would take it that far.”
Gumbo’s comments seem to contradict his earlier statement to the media that there was nothing untoward about Shamu’s introduction as Gumbo was the chairman of the occasion.
On his part, Khaya Moyo who was not present at the party did not take the matter lightly saying a person could only be appointed in an acting capacity when the substantive holder of that position is out of the country.
Such appointments, he said, were made by Mugabe.
“I was in the country and such appointments are only made when one is out of the country,” Khaya Moyo told the State media.
“When you are out of the country, obviously the President can appoint someone to act.”
The latest discord in the ruling party is seen by many as epitomising the bigger political fight pitting Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s factions which are seen as the leading contenders to succeed Mugabe.
Both Mnangagwa and Mujuru have publicly denied leading any factions. Shamu and Mutasa are believed to be aligned to the Mujuru camp.
Outgoing Women’s League boss, Oppah Muchinguri, who is set to stand down from her position this month during the party’s Women’s League congress in favour of Grace has suggested in recent interviews with the media that if Mujuru had her way, Zanu PF would still be sharing power with the MDC after opposing early elections last year.
Muchinguri who reportedly sympathises with Mnangagwa’s interests feels Mujuru is impatient to wait for Mugabe to step down
“The divisions in the party don’t help us. There are some who can’t wait for their turn, who are now saying President Mugabe must go.
“We know it; we know we’re surrounded by schemers. We know those who are scheming,” Muchinguri was quoted by the State media yesterday.
The bickering on who is going to succeed the 90-year-old leader has opened the door for several speculations, with former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono and Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi’s names also being cast into the net.Now the inclusion of Mugabe’s wife Grace into the succession equation has further added spice to the debate.
Mugabe has remained mum on who is likely to succeed him, but has in the past pulled a few unpredictable moves, that have kept people guessing with the latest being his wife’s inclusion in politics.