By Sij Ncube
HARARE, June 12, 2015 – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) on Thursday recalled from parliament three of its former members, setting the stage for yet another round of by-elections, including in Epworth, left vacant following the death of Amos Midzi.
Midzi was found dead on Tuesday morning at his farm in Beatrice in what is suspected to be suicide. He is expected to be buried at a private cemetery on Saturday.
But indications are that Mugabe will soon call four by-elections in a pre-emptive strategy to prevent the-so-called “cabal” from immediately regrouping to challenge the party leader.
Acting Speaker of the House of Assembly, Melody Dziva, announced the expulsion from parliament of Mwenezi East’s Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Marondera Central’s Ray Kaukonde and Guruve North’s David Butau.
Sources told Radio VOP Friday the recall of Bhasikiti, Kaukonde and Butau, part of the so-called “cabal” linked to ousted former vice president Joice Mujuru, is likely to bring closure to the whole drama in the faction-riddled party, sparked by Mugabe’s wife, Grace, in the run-up to the Zanu PF December 2014 congress.
Mugabe wants to bring closure to internal strife in Zanu (PF), a development which has seen him and his ministers ignoring government business, particularly attempting to resuscitate the comatose economy.
Last month, the three were also expelled from the ruling party for allegedly backing Mujuru who was widely seen as the natural successor to Mugabe due to her seniority in Zanu PF.
But Mujuru was fired first from both the party and government for allegedly planning to assassinate Mugabe, charge she has flatly denied. Other former Zanu (PF) big-wigs expelled from Zanu PF include, former Zanu (PF) secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and Mutasa’s nephew Temba Mliswa.
Mliswa failed in his bid to reclaim the Hurungwe West seat after he narrowly lost to his nemesis Keth Guzha in an election mired by intimidation, violence, vote-buying and alleged rigging.
Zanu PF also retained the Headlands seat left vacant following the expulsion of Mutasa.
But the immediate staging of “piece-meal” by-elections is seen as a strategy to prevent the Mujuru’s “cabal” from quickly re-grouping while Mugabe is still battling with factionalism in the party, analysts claim.
To further prevent Mujuru’s faction from re-organising, Mugabe has ensured that all suspended legislators retained their seats in parliament until or near the end of the life-span of the current parliament which expires before July 2018. They cannot afford to be seen hobnobbing with Mujuru and her allies while still members of Zanu(PF), albeit ordinary card-carrying cadres.
Charles Mangongera, a political researcher and analyst, says Zanu (PF) strategy was to cause by-elections in phases until all those who are perceived to be Mujuru allies were completely purged.
“They (Zanu PF) fear that a wholesale purge would result in some sort of mini general election, which may force those purged to quickly regroup, form a party and challenge for power. So the phased approach is to isolate small groups and obliterate them until the whole gang is gone,” said Mangongera.