Zanu (PF) Bulawayo has distanced itself from last Friday’s demonstration against Vice-President Joice Mujuru at the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport, with some in the provincial leadership attributing the protests to infiltration.Provincial chairperson Callistus Ndlovu said he was caught unawares by the demonstrators, as the protest was not planned by his executive.
“We saw them, we don’t know who sponsored them,” he said.
“These are just individuals. I was also surprised to see the demonstration. I do not understand why they are demonstrating.”
The demonstrators had gathered at the airport to welcome President Robert Mugabe who was due to officiate at the National University of Science and Technology graduation.
The protests brought to the fore the deep-seated divisions within Zanu PF ahead of what is increasingly looking like a high stakes’ conference next month.
Questions also arose on who was funding and directing the protests, since the provincial executive was unaware of them.
A number of demonstrations have been held against Mujuru, with protesters waving well-written and neat placards, an indicator that the protests were well-funded and well-co-ordinated.
First Lady Grace Mugabe recently described Bulawayo as a divided province, but provincial chairperson Ndlovu believes the divisions in Bulawayo are overstated.
He described the protestors as unruly elements, saying his executive was going to look into the matter.
“These are unruly elements and we are going to look into it,” he said. “The security is going to look for the culprits.”
The Zanu PF Bulawayo chairman said the number of demonstrators was small and “not more than 10”.
The placards on display denounced Mujuru, describing her as “Dr Extortionist”, while they campaigned for First Lady Grace Mugabe. Some of the demonstrators directed their anger towards Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo.
Since Grace first announced her entry into mainstream politics, she has accused Mujuru of corruption and plotting a palace coup on her 90-year-old husband.
Anyone seen as aligned to Mujuru has earned the wrath of a faction angling to succeed Mugabe.
Ndlovu cautioned that factionalism in the party should be managed, as it would affect Zanu PF.