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FISSURES are emerging within a faction linked to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa as allies turn against each other in the race for positions. After handing Vice President Joice Mujuru an embarrassing exit from the top echelons of the party, bigwigs in the Mnangagwa camp are falling over each other to get President Robert Mugabe’s attention in the hope that he would reward them with senior positions.

In attempting to curry favour with the President, the alliance that had worked wonders in elbowing out Mujuru and her allies is beginning to crack at the seams. Nearly all the heavyweights in the Justice Minister’s camp, including Mnangagwa himself, are said to be eyeing top positions at congress.

Mnangagwa had a go at the vice presidency in 2004 but his ambitions were cut short by the party’s leadership, which included President Mugabe, vice president Joseph Msika (now late) and John Nkomo, also late. The Justice Minister has been on a massive comeback, riding on a wave created by the First Family, in a bid to purge unwanted elements within the party’s ranks.

Those who have played significant roles in rooting out the Mujuru elements include outgoing ZANU-PF Women’s League boss, Oppah Muchinguri Senate President Edna Madzongwe and Politburo members Saviour Kasukuwere, Ignatius Chombo, Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao.

Several Politburo positions are up for grabs following a root and branch shake-up that swept through the party in the run-up to its congress. The other positions, seven in total were a culmination of deaths of their holders. Those who passed on and need to be replaced include John Nkomo (second vice president) David Karimanzira (secretary for finance) Stanley Mudenge (secretary for external affairs) Stanley Sakupwanya (secretary – welfare of the disabled and disaantaged persons) Solomon Mujuru (committee member) Kumbirai Kangai (committee member) Nathan Shamuyarira (committee member) and Kantibhai Patel (committee member).

The vacancies arising from deaths pale into insignificance when compared against those caused by the winds of change blowing across ZANU-PF. Vice President Mujuru is on her way out and so is Didymus Mutasa (secretary for administration) Simon Khaya-Moyo (national chairman) Webster Shamu (secretary for the commissariat) Rugare Gumbo (secretary for information and publicity) Nicholas Goche (secretary for transport and welfare) Absalom Sikhosana (secretary for youth) Sikhanyiso Ndlovu (secretary for education) and Olivia Muchena (secretary for science and technology).

Those whose fate is unknown include Sidney Sekeramayi (secretary for national security) Sithembiso Nyoni (secretary for business and liaison) and Herbert Murerwa (secretary for land reform and resettlement). Another source of the infighting has been the removal of a clause in the party’s constitution which said one of the vice presidents should be a woman. This has frustrated senior female members of the Mnangagwa faction who were hoping to ride on this constitutional provision to land the position.

These include Muchinguri and Madzongwe, who could not be reached for comment. The clause was inserted in the constitution to aid the ascendancy of Mujuru in 2004. “The two are unhappy. It is not easy to see something you had hoped to get slip out of hand like that,” said a Mnangagwa ally.

Madzongwe and Muchinguri were part of the First Lady’s followers during her “meet the people” provincial rallies.

Heavyweights from the Matabeleland region such as Kembo Mohadi, Obert Mpofu, Jacob Mudenda and Phelekezela Mphoko are also eager to land either the second vice presidency or the national chairmanship. The second vice presidency and the national chairmanship have since the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 been occupied by former ZAPU combatants.

Mpofu, the most senior Politburo member in Matabeleland North, torched a storm at the weekend when he instigated the ouster of speaker of the National Assembly, Mudenda, from the Central Committee despite him being elected in Hwange, his ghold. An inter-district meeting held in Lupane on Sunday resemble a warzone as Mudenda’s supporters refused to back down and staged a counter demonstration against Mpofu resulting in running battles.

Leadership wrangles have also erupted in other provinces where fresh elections for provincial leadership have been held.

In Masvingo, Paradzai Chakona, who orchestrated the ouster of former provincial chairman, Killian Gwanetsa, crossed paths with Papurai Togarepi, who had been elected substantive provincial chair. Because of the infighting, the Politburo had to intervene this week, restoring Chakona as the acting provincial chairman and Mudenda as a nominee for the Central Committee.

Chakona, who had reverted to his old deputy chairman position, had accused Togarepi of lacking liberation war credentials and says that disqualifies him from leading the province. The same situation is also obtaining in Mashonaland Central where some of Mnangagwa allies are not happy with the elevation of Dickson Mafios, Kasukuwere’s brother, as acting provincial chairman. “People are fighting for recognition. They all want to impress the president,” another official said. President Mugabe will single handedly appoint all office bearers in the Politburo at the ongoing congress.

Source : Financial Gazette