President Robert Mugabe yesterday warned that persistent and acrimonious factional fights, characterised by “shameful” lies, were threatening to tear Zanu PF apart.
Mugabe gave the warning while addressing central committee members at the ruling party’s headquarters ahead of the Zanu PF conference, which begins in earnest today in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
This is the first time Mugabe has publicly admitted his party could succumb to the torrents of persistent infighting.
Previously, Mugabe chose to describe factionalism as a fantasy of the private media.
But the President said his party’s central committee — which is supposed to meet four times a year to deal with issues regarding elections, administration and recruitment of new supporters — should now convene regularly.
to deal with personality clashes emanating from continuous factional power fights in the party.
“We have a problem at the moment that threatens to split the party,” he said.
“The central committee should meet to deal with problems that have to do with organisation, administration, elections and recruitment of new members, but alas, the problem is now to do with personalities, people wanting to advance themselves within the party, wanting this position and that position.”
Zanu PF members are currently locked in bitter factional power struggles, pitting a faction reportedly loyal to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and another one comprising Young Turks, known as G40.
Mugabe’s wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe, his nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, party commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere and secretary for technology, Jonathan Moyo are reportedly linked to the G40 faction, which rose to prominence after the annihilation late last year of another faction reportedly led by ousted former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
The 91-year-old leader yesterday said jostling for power by factions was affecting the smooth running of the ruling party, as members were too engrossed in backbiting and framing each other.
Zanu PF members, Mugabe said, had become shameful liars, feeding private media with information aimed at blackmailing each other, as factions attempt to strategically position themselves to take over power.
“All these things published in opposition papers come from us. What a shame! We are now sustaining these opposition papers. We are manufacturing lies, talking about purported actions of people that have never happened,” he said.
“We are now shameful liars. We go about day and night trying to get information about this and that group. If we fail, we manufacture damaging information about that group. That is shameful. When party members differ in opinion on certain issues, there is no need to resort to backbiting or character assassination.”
Mugabe’s remarks come at a time divisions among party members, including his Cabinet ministers and politburo members, have risen to new heights, with the recent verbal showdown between Kasukuwere and War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Grace has also blasted unnamed moles within the party for feeding information to the private media. Greed for power, Mugabe said, had crippled the party, with some members appointed to the central committee last year wanting to take over the party, while others who were elected as MPs in 2013 were demanding ministerial positions.
He said the power struggles had resulted in the ongoing wave of votes of no-confidence against party members.
“Infighting is not ending with the votes of no-confidence that have become fashionable. Are people unable to settle issues amicably? Yes, to those who are unrepentant, they can be booted out, but should be disciplined first. They should be warned before taking such action,” the Zanu PF leader said.
On Tuesday, the women’s league executive, headed by the First Lady, booted out its spokesperson, Monica Mutsvangwa, and administration secretary, Asphinah Nhari, on allegations of fanning factionalism in Manicaland. Mutsvangwa attended yesterday’s central committee meeting, looking unmoved by her suspension and happily greeting all Women’s League members present.
Mugabe also blasted provincial chairpersons for allegedly considering themselves powerful to the extent of trying to overturn some appointments he would have made. “You chairmen, do you have the powers to say you don’t like someone appointed by the President? To hell with you!” shouted Mugabe, adding such members should learn to keep their mouths shut and follow procedures of airing their views.