Zanu PF infighting reached a new high in Manicaland Saturday.
Supporters of First Lady Grace Mugabe started pushing for the ouster of Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri who is accused of plotting the downfall of senior party provincial members.
A verbal showdown ensued at an aborted Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting in Mutare Saturday with factions accusing each other of destabilising the party and plotting to topple others using unorthodox means.
The PCC meeting was supposed to come hard on the heels of votes-of-no-confidence on party youth executive members allegedly divided in their allegiance to the First Lady and Muchinguri.
This followed a leaked audio tape in which Muchinguri allegedly said she was plotting to send to the cleaners Manicaland Provincial minister Mandi Chimene, Makoni West MP Kudzi Chipanga, youth league members Victor Saunyama and Mubuso Chinguno, among other senior party members from Manicaland.
“There is serious chaos in the province which started on Friday. Infighting has reached alarming levels. It is worse than what was happening during the build-up to the party congress last year where we brutally fought the camp led by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru,” said a provincial executive who requested anonymity.
On Friday incensed youth league officials passed a vote-of-no-confidence against their youth chair Kelvin Manyengavana who was part of Muchinguri’s meeting. But other youth league members yesterday sought to overturn the decision and tried to pass another vote-of-no-confidence in acting chair Chinguno who was Manyengavana’s deputy and other executive members.
Zanu PF was billed to hold a provincial coordination committee (PCC) meeting on Saturday but after sensing danger, acting provincial chairman Samuel Undenge, who is also Energy minister, called it off.
After the cancellation of the meeting, Muchinguri’s supporters reportedly sent messages inviting members to the meeting which however failed to materialise as the two rival camps hauled insults at each other.
“The youths passed a vote-of-no-confidence against chairman [Kelvin] Manyengavana which was signed by 25 people. Manyengavana was accused of insubordination, failure to carry out his mandate and forming parallel structures,” said a provincial executive member.
“However, after the meeting the majority of the youth league members were called to the house of a provincial youth executive where they were enticed to rebel against Undenge and his leadership, some politburo members and everyone who supported Manyengavana’s ouster.”
He added: “That is when Undenge called for the cancellation of the meeting but surprisingly, pro-Muchinguri members countered that because they wanted to pass a vote-of-no-confidence in the acting chair and replace him with Mike Madiro, who is close to Muchinguri.”
It is believed the members spent the greater part of Friday night canvassing for support ahead of the explosive meeting which however failed to materialise after Muchinguri’s loyalists failed to secure a venue.
They wanted to use the government complex but Chimene is said to have refused to grant them permission.
“It’s not possible to hold a meeting in such an atmosphere because people will fight. We are so determined to fight because we feel there are leaders trying to pursue their unrealistic ambitions,” said one legislator who refused to be named.
“That attempt to overthrow Chinguno does not make sense because our constitution says that if the chair is removed the deputy will assume the position in an acting capacity.
“What we are seeing is a fight between Muchinguri and all those accused of being close to the First Lady. She is working in cahoots with Monica Mutsvangwa, Madiro and Joshua Sacco to cause confusion but that doesn’t work. She failed to mobilise the people and she is realising that she has no power at all,” added the legislator.
In less than a year after the congress, Zanu PF infighting has taken dramatic turns, with President Mugabe confirming that all is not well in the party where people are creating factions around the country’s two vice-presidents.
Efforts to get a comment from Muchinguri, Mutsvangwa and Madiro were unsuccessful. Undenge was also not available to comment.