THE restructuring of Zanu(PF), rolled out last week, is the strongest indication yet that the purge of allies of former vice-president Joice Mujuru is far from over.
In fact, the exercise is set to escalate in the next coming weeks.
Until now, the restructuring had been limited to the party’s top brass and at provincial level.
Mujuru and 18 ministers were fired from their government positions by President Robert Mugabe between December last year and February this year.
Before then, nine out of 10 provincial chairpersons were also replaced after votes of no-confidence were passed on them in the run up to the party’s congress in December.
Now, Zanu (PF) has set its sights on shaking up the rank and file in its grassroots in order to weed out remaining Mujuru sympathisers.
The restructuring, hardly three months after the blood-letting at congress, is being spearheaded by Saviour Kasukuwere , the Zanu(PF) national political commissar.
Kasukuwere, whose position enables him to shake things up in the party, has down-played concerns about a witch-hunt, saying this was in fact, a requirement in the revolutionary party’s constitution.
“There is no victimisation, personalisation or going for individuals. That is out of the question. We are strengthening our party and uniting our party. If you look at our terms of reference, the party must be strong and united,” said Kasukuwere.
Politburo members are also shadowing the restructuring and are leading various teams into the provinces to expedite the process.
The exercise has begun in the Matabeleland South, Bulawayo, Midlands and Harare provinces and will soon be extended to the remaining six party provinces.
Critics have intimated that the vigour with which the revolutionary party was expending energy on getting its house in order was a far cry from the urgency it had shown when it comes to the country’s economic affairs.
The economy remains in a tailspin; hard-hit by company closures, a liquidity crunch and soaring unemployment — all of which negate the plans of Zanu (PF)’s Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation blueprint.
Acting Harare provincial chairperson, Goodwills Masimirembwa, indicated recently that the exercise was aimed at those sympathetic to Mujuru — going against the tide, after the vehement denials that the exercise had any such agenda.
“I am aware that the Gammatox and its remnants within our party structures are trying to regroup in order to frustrate the restructuring exercise. But I am happy that the overwhelming majority of the party members are solidly behind President (Robert) Mugabe, rendering the machinations of the gammatox elements useless,” Masimirembwa said. Gammatox is the collective term used to refer to Mujuru and her inner circle.
Although Mujuru is no longer in government and is out of the decision-making body in ZANU-PF — after being reduced to an ordinary card carrying member — her support base which has spanned nearly a decade appears to be giving her rivals in the revolutionary party sleepless nights.
“I think the Machiavellian schemers in the Mnangagwa group would want to see her being completely annihilated because they know that she wields enormous power and influence in the party’s social base. Their biggest problem is that they just don’t know what to do with her,” said political commentator, Charles Mangongera. “They can’t send her to jail because all their attempts to stitch up a case against her have come to nothing. So for now they will continue to malign her in the public media but again that strategy is backfiring because it is putting her in the limelight.”
Zibusiso Dube, another political commentator, said fears abound in ZANU-PF that Mujuru may have an ace up her sleeve.
“These fears might be well founded because I do not believe that Mujuru’s silence signals acceptance of defeat. Rather it’s the silence of someone who is strategising and may pull a shocker through her support base sometime in the future,” said Dube.
“If indeed she felt it was over for her, I think she would be making a lot of noise,” he added.
The challenge brought to the courts earlier this month by Didymus Mutasa, the former ZANU-PF secretary of administration is also another point of hot contestation.
Furthermore, the insistence for the removal of Mutasa and his nephew, Temba Mliswa from Parliament indicates that ZANU-PF is still continuing with the purge.
Social commentator, Mmeli Dube, is of the opinion that the purge which had been mainly political, was now taking a socio-economic dimension.
“Those perceived to be Mujuru loyalists are in all spheres and at all levels of society.
“The Weevils faction is led by those without grassroots ( a group opposed to Mujuru) support, but support from State institutions such as security. However, in those institutions there are Mujuru loyalists as well…She is a threat because she is not only an individual, but one with social and financial capital and is capable of major upsets.”
One school of thought holds the view that while Zanu(PF) genuinely needed to take stock of its affairs ahead of the 2018 poll, it would never be able to do so with the cloud of factionalism and internal ructions hanging above the party.
A closely fought contest is once again expected in the next polls between ZANU-PF and its long time nemesis, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai.