Zanu PF succession debacle came to the fore at a cabinet meeting a fortnight ago amid revelations President Robert Mugabe confronted Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, accusing him of abusing resources from parastatals under his portfolio to advance political factional interests, it has emerged.
This comes after volatile factionalism erupted into the public in a major way following clashes at the Youth and Women’s League conferences recently. Top government sources said Mugabe questioned Mavhaire’s board appointments in the energy sector, which are dominated by politicians aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s faction.
At the time of the appointments in June, business and commerce raised concerns over Mavhaire’s appointments to the boards running Zesa Holdings and its nine subsidiaries.
The appointments were widely viewed as part of a grand plan to accommodate Mujuru loyalists.
Mavhaire reportedly belongs to the Mujuru faction, which is embroiled in a bitter struggle with a camp led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Mugabe attacked Mavhaire saying he is aware that the minister authorised the write-off of huge electricity bills for some Zanu PF officials who are aligned to VP Mujuru’s faction,” said a top government official.
“Mugabe in the meeting said he was informed that several electricity bills running into hundreds of thousands of dollars were cancelled as Mavhaire tried to lure members to his faction. Mugabe also said he is aware that fuel from PetroTrade was given to some Zanu PF officials without paying anything and then people say the economy is not performing.”
In an interview this week, Mavhaire said those were just “rumours”.
“Go and ask the Zesa authorities whether at one time I went there to order them to cancel the bills,” Mavhaire said. “The minister has no jurisdiction over how bills are paid or cancelled.”
Mavhaire was appointed Energy minister after last year’s general elections. He had spent many years in the political wilderness after a fall-out with Mugabe prompted by his “Mugabe must go” remarks in the late 1990s.
Recent Zanu PF infighting forced Mugabe to call an emergency meeting at State House where politburo members, cabinet ministers and Zanu PF provincial leaders confronted each other as problems caused by unresolved succession issues escalate ahead of the party’s December.