Dumiso Dabengwa’s deputy has reportedly asked him to consider his position as Zapu’s opposition leader after a co-ordinated party coup intensified.
Zapu secretary-general Strike Mnkandla, who has sought his own mandate at the party congress this year but lost, has reportedly ventilated that he had lost the confidence of the former intelligence supremo.
The move has caused the dissolution of Zapu’s entire Bulawayo provincial executive committee of which Mnkandla is a member by the National Executive Council (Nec) at a heated meeting held last weekend.
Dabengwa is said to have received unqualified backing from the Nec, the opposition party’s highest decision-making body.
Zapu deputy spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa rejected reports that the deputy leader had directly called on his leader to step down.
But in a statement released yesterday following the party’s Nec meeting, Zapu attributed the dissolution of the Gibson Sibanda-led committee to the “province’s underperforming compared to other provinces”.
“It was noted, sadly, that the province of Bulawayo had no concrete programmes in place and that had a knock on the party structures and its growth in Bulawayo, that is bearing in mind the strategic importance of Bulawayo to the party and the broader body politic,” the party statement said.
However, sources in the party insisted that it was all because of the on-going feud between Mnkandla and Dabengwa, whose enmity reportedly dates back to the liberation war.
Mnkandla could not be reached for a comment yesterday.
The Zapu deputy spokesperson was evasive on the matter.
“It is true we had such a resolution regarding Bulawayo province but it is not because there is anything wrong with the portfolio holders, I know Mnkandla and Dabengwa to be close associates and properly working together,” Maphosa said. He said the dissolution had nothing to do with anybody in top party leadership.
“Neither is it about our secretary-general but a genuine endeavour to strengthen party structures,” he said.
“What happened is the party simply felt the province needs to be assisted for strength in a number of areas and the only way that could be achieved was through a temporary collapse of the existing committee to allow the national organising department unrestrained and uninterrupted play to sort out a few issues. It is for a very short time as you will notice,” said Maphosa.
The Nec’s intervention to suspend the Bulawayo province raises the stakes in Zapu’s leadership war and points to years of internecine conflict ahead if Dabengwa tries to cling on as party leader.
Yet insiders acknowledge Dabengwa is a formidable operator in the Zapu party. As an ally of Simba Makoni, he engineered a rebellion against President Robert Mugabe in the 2008 presidential poll, managing to garner 8 percent of the national vote for the former Finance minister.