THE strife-torn ruling Zanu(PF) party is headed for a crunch December annual conference at which factional foes are expected to amplify their conflict over the succession of President Robert Mugabe.
The conference, which will come just a year after the expulsion of President Mugabe’s deputy, Joice Mujuru, at a December congress last year, promises to be another stormy affair for the beleaguered party, which is already eyeing the 2018 national elections even as the country slips into an economic conflagration.
Two distinct camps have emerged in the revolutionary party and none of them appears ready to make any concessions.
Party national commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, is believed to be the brains behind one of the groups, Generation 40 (G40). The group is said to have played a key role in dislodging Mujuru and her supporters from the party and government.
At the time, they coalesced with now-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady, Grace Mugabe, in plotting Mujuru’s demise.
Members of the G40 appear to have now abandoned Mnangagwa, with reports suggesting they are now keen to prop up the First Lady for presidency. They are also believed to have lured Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko into their project.
Kasukuwere is said to be working with Higher Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo, and Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Patrick Zhuwao, under the G40 project.
Kasukuwere reacted angrily when contacted for comment.
“Iwe unoda kundibvunza zvemangamanga (Hey, you want to ask me silly questions),” he charged and cut off the phone as soon as the Financial Gazette reporter introduced himself.
Kasukuwere, Zhuwao and Moyo have previously denied involvement in factional wars. In fact, they have previously denounced factionalism, which has severely weakened the ruling party.
Zanu(PF) insiders revealed to the Financial Gazette that two militant youth groups that have emerged in recent months are supporting their seniors who are tearing each other apart, eight weeks before the conference.
In fact, they have been among the leaders to denounce factionalism, which has severely weakened the ruling party.
Zanu(PF) insiders also revealed to the Financial Gazette this week that two militant youth groups have also emerged in recent months to lend support to their seniors who are tearing each other apart eight weeks before the conference.
The dates of the conference, which is scheduled for the resort town of Victoria Falls, are yet to be finalised but the party traditionally holds its conferences during the second week of December.
There are fears the party could turn the prime resort town into a warzone, as hardliners have already drawn their swords for battle.
Zanu(PF) secretary for information and publicity, Simon Khaya Moyo, was not picking calls as the rumour mill suggested that the party had gagged its senior officials to keep the escalating internal fights out of public glare.
But while Mnangagwa appears to have publicly ignored the threats from the group, insiders said he was actually busy plotting a counter-strategy to take the G40 head on.
The clashes witnessed at the National Heroes Acre during the burial of Sikhanyiso Ndlovu two weeks ago could be confirmation of an emerging pro-Mnangagwa group now trying to counter the G40 outfit.
The youths traded blows when G40 youths emerged at the shrine donning t-shirts bearing pictures of President Mugabe and the late vice president, Joshua Nkomo on the front, and an inscription which read “Munhu wese kuna amai (Everyone to the mother)” at the back.
The statement is now a new slogan imploring people to support Grace Mugabe.
The pro-Mnangagwa group, found the t-shirts to be spiteful and provocative, given that the Vice President had been in the eye of the storm for reportedly labelling Nkomo a sell-out during the liberation war.
The pro-Mnangagwa group then ordered that the G40 youths, who claimed the regalia had been sanctioned by Grace Mugabe, to remove the t-shirts, but the group stuck to their guns, resulting in the youths publicly trading blows.
It later, however, emerged that the First Lady had not even sanctioned the t-shirts as earlier claimed by the youths.
Harare South legislator and Zanu(PF) provincial commissar, Shadreck Mashayamombe, who is widely believed to be the brains behind the t-shirts, is now reportedly in trouble over the issue.
The Financial Gazette tracked some of the members of both groups this week who were all boisterous about their capacity to overrun their rivals.
“We are shocked that there suddenly appears t-shirts of a divisive nature. If those are not meant to be spiteful, why do we only have them just now? In December, we had unity celebrations and in July we commemorated the death of VP Nkomo and on both occasions, there were no t-shirts. This is just mischief,” said one member of the pro-Mnangagwa group who declined to be named for fear of reprisal.
“As youths, we are prepared to defend the Vice President. We stand by the leaders of the day. It’s these not so clever political novices who want to pick a fight with him (Mnangagwa). Unfortunately, they lack the stamina and knowhow to fight this political giant who has come a long way,” the member said.
Already, a sense of victory is sweeping through the Mnangagwa camp as they feel that Kasukuwere, who is currently on a whirlwind tour of urban councils as Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, has already had his wings clipped by president Mugabe after two key portfolios of traditional leaders and rural authorities were plucked from his ministry and placed in the hands of Abednego Ncube.
Ncube is a known Mnangagwa ally who out-muscled Andrew Langa, a Mujuru ally, in Matabeleland South province, where Kasukuwere had a stopover on Monday.
But adamant G40 members maintained that they would eventually upset Mnangagwa