Zanu (PF) youths from Harare and Manicaland clashed at First Lady Grace Mugabe’s rally at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare Friday as factionalism in the ruling party reared its ugly head.
Police had a torrid time trying to quell the situation which was threatening to turn violent before Mugabe arrived with the rival youths openly shoving each other. The youths were accusing each other of being bought to support the different factions in Zanu PF Youths from Manicaland, led by the provincial secretary for
administration in the Youth League Sheila Mutsenhu, were accusing their rivals led by Harare youth boss Godwin Gomwe of insulting the “provincial godfather” and Zanu PF national secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa. Although Manicaland police spokesperson Enock Chishiri, who was in attendance, refused to say how they had handled the matter, Mutsenhu accused Gomwe of mobilising bouncers at the aerodrome to openly boo and denounce Mutasa and Manicaland provincial chairman Ambassador John Mvundura.
In her address to the thousands of Zanu PF supporters bussed from all over Manicaland and beyond, Mugabe targeted Zanu PF leaders whom she accused of fanning divisions.
She claimed some supporters were being paid to cause trouble in the party.
The First Lady expressed disgust at the manner in which Zanu PF supporters were openly showing their factional affiliations and strongly warned bigwigs in the party to stop “lying” to the people using the President Robert Mugabe’s name.
She said it was regrettable that Zanu PF supporters were wasting precious time on matters that divided the party.
Grace described Manicaland as the worst problem child with those revolting against Mugabe mostly coming from the eastern province.
“I have seen factionalism at play here big time,” she said.
“We are a family in Zimbabwe and a family dispute or social unrest it’s a problem. I have seen it here. What I am saying that factionalism should stop is not being listened to.”
Zanu PF is deeply divided with one faction linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru fighting another one said to be loyal to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa as the battle to succeed 90-year-old Mugabe intensifies.
Grace said the few rallies she had addressed so far had made her realise that there were some leaders who wanted to use her to settle their personal scores.
“This little time I have been walking around, I have realised that if I am not careful I will be used,” she said.
“Don’t try to use me to settle your scores. I want to warn you, those on top not the grassroots, that I am saying no to factionalism.”
She also castigated senior officials who were lobbying for different positions at the December elective congress accusing them of dishing out lots of money to buy support.
She also labelled demolitions in Harare and police officers who confiscate wares from vendors as agents of factionalism.
Turning to empowerment, Mugabe said she wanted a diamond concession to be set up in Marange so that women would start mining there.
She also alleged that there were some chairwomen in some provinces being paid so that they would not co-operate with her when she starts her tenure as Zanu PF Women’s League boss.
Mugabe nearly lost her temper when Minister of State for Manicaland Chris Mushohwe made a slogan without making a speech after he was introduced to the crowd.
Among the Zanu PF bigwigs who followed Mugabe all the way to Mutare for her “Thank You” rally were Mutasa, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, Information minister Jonathan Moyo, Politburo member Patrick Zhuwao and “suspended” Zanu PF Mashonaland West chairman Temba Mliswa.