The plot to oust Vice-President Joice Mujuru is thickening with Zanu PF’s legal committee reportedly drafting changes to the party’s constitution to allow President Robert Mugabe to hand-pick his deputies and subsequently drop the incumbent at the party’s December congress, The Standard has learnt.
But Mujuru loyalists said they would block efforts to torpedo the VP vowing to use their dominance in the existing Zanu PF structures to protect her.
Although party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo on Saturday denied knowledge of constitutional changes, The Standard is reliably informed moves aimed at ousting Mujuru were taking shape.
This follows calls by Mugabe’s wife, Grace for the party to give her husband more powers to appoint his deputies and consequently dump the “inept Mujuru who was busy piggy-backing him.”
Mujuru is believed to be leading a faction tussling with another reportedly led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in the race to succeed 90-year-old Mugabe. But the entrance into politics of Grace, who was nominated in June to lead the Women’s League, has complicated the succession wars.
Grace — who is believed to be linked to the Mnangagwa camp — last week launched a vitriolic attack on Mujuru, describing her as a “gossiper, corrupt and divisive.” She said she had already told Mugabe to “baby-dump” her, failure of which she would take it upon herself to do it.
Zanu PF insiders told The Standard on Saturday that efforts to implement Grace‘s proposal to amend the party’s constitution were underway, ostensibly to give Mugabe powers to deal with Mujuru and those believed to be fighting in her corner.
“The legal team, headed by Mnangagwa, would soon draft amendments to the party’s constitution. Mugabe will be given the powers to hand-pick his deputies. Pressure will then be mounted on him to dump Mujuru on allegations that she was dividing the party,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
If the plan succeeds, Mujuru would be dumped together with some politburo members perceived to be loyal to her. Mugabe, after his annual leave in January, would then reshuffle Cabinet and further purge Mujuru loyalists.
The official said if the plot succeeded, Mujuru would be replaced by Oppah Muchinguri who stepped down as Women’s League boss to make way for Grace. Defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, who is largely on the quieter side, was also being considered as another alternative.
But officials linked to Mujuru said they would fight back through the politburo, central committee and provincial structures.
“Most of these people who are plotting against Mujuru do not have structures on the ground unlike us. We will fight in the politburo to stop the attempt to introduce undemocratic means to prop up one faction,” said a Mujuru ally.
“Come congress, if the elections are free and fair we are assured of sweeping at least eight provinces because we have the numbers.”
The Mujuru loyalist also said any constitutional amendments would only be passed at congress, meaning that they would only apply after December.
Gumbo Saturday denied that the party’s constitution was undergoing a major surgery, claiming the party’s legal committee that is seized with such a task had not received instructions to that effect.
“I don’t know anything about that. It is not true,” Gumbo said.
Amendments to the Zanu PF constitution, Gumbo said, should first be approved by the Politburo and then the Central Committee.
Grace has been touring provinces where she has been attacking party members, particularly those aligned to the Mujuru faction.
She was largely in the company of some ministers and politburo members believed to be sympathetic to the Mnangagwa faction.
While addressing supporters in Bindura on Thursday, Grace alleged Mujuru had promised to take away her business empire after Mugabe’s death. She also made sensational claims that it was in Mujuru’s house that the opposition MDC and Mavambo parties were formed.
“The plan to have Mujuru dumped was hatched by the Mnangagwa faction that used Grace to have access to Mugabe. Mugabe is expected to address similar rallies to those held by his wife before congress. It will be at these rallies that the Mnangagwa faction intends to invoke Mugabe’s anger against Mujuru,” said another senior Zanu PF official.
“People would be coached on what to say at Mugabe’s rallies to vilify Mujuru and songs are being composed to castigate her so that Mugabe is pressured to dump her.”
Mugabe has remained mum about Grace’s whirlwind tours where she fired broadsides to senior party members, particularly Mujuru and Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde.
Another party member who preferred anonymity said by looking at the people who accompanied Grace at her rallies across the country and the slogans that were being chanted, it was clear she was championing the cause for the Mnangagwa camp.
Ministers Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Oppah Muchinguri and other senior party members like Patrick Zhuwao, Phillip Chiyangwa and Shuvai Mahofa among others are reportedly linked to the Mnangagwa camp.
The popular “down with gamatox” slogan was seen to be an attack on both Mujuru and Didymus Mutasa, the Zanu PF Secretary for Administration. Mutasa is linked to the Mujuru camp and has openly shown his support for a future Mujuru presidency.
“By saying down with gamatox, without reprimanding weevils, it was clear Grace sympathises with the Mujuru faction,” the official said.
Mugabe in June attacked Moyo and called him a weevil and devil incarnate bent on destroying the party from within.