President Robert Mugabe’s passionate pleas meant to unite ZANU-PF factions fighting a messy war to succeed him apparently failed to appease rebellious spirits raging among his comrades as further bickering has already erupted
On Friday night, President Mugabe read the riot act on his feuding lieutenants, ordering them to “shut up”, unite and work for the party and country. He said this in an unanticipated state of the nation address aired on national television.
But, instead of heeding the President’s directive, the warring factions scaled up their infighting, barely hours after his address.
Party cadres remain entangled in close-quarter combat, matching each other blow for blow as they refuse to shake hands and reach a compromise. ZANU-PF is divided into two distinct camps, namely Generation 40 (G40) and Team Lacoste.
The Lacoste group is backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Mugabe, while G40 is bitterly opposed to Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions.
In a typical example of the factions’ refusal to cease fire, those perceived to be belonging to the G40 grouping have moved in to take control of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) through a vote of no confidence on Christopher Mutsvangwa and his executive, perceived to be rooting for Mnangagwa.
Mutsvangwa and team have responded by approaching the courts, which has declared the coup attempt as offside. The recent suspensions of provincial chairmen for Mashonaland East (Joe Biggie Matiza), Midlands (Kizito Chivamba) and Masvingo (Ezra Chadzamira) by national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, have also been ignored or countered with votes of no confidence in two of the provinces.
While Kasukuwere insists the suspensions were valid, Matiza, Chivamba and Chadzamira have rubbished the decision as unconstitutional.
The party has since set up a special committee to investigate the suspensions. Also, at Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meetings held in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East, factionalism was on open display.
In Mashonaland East, a meeting convened by acting chairman, Bernard Makokove, resolved to pass a vote of no confidence on Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Mutoko North legislator, Marble Chinomona
Makokove was handpicked for the position by Kasukuwere, to replace Matiza who was suspended a few weeks ago. The PCC meeting also booted out Goromonzi North Member of Parliament, Petronella Kagonye on accusations of hobnobbing with former vice president, Joice Mujuru.
Chinomona, who is the Women’s League national political commissar, is said to a Mnangagwa ally and it is believed that she is being punished for allegedly fanning factionalism. Contacted for comment on Monday, Makokove said he is not allowed to discuss anything with the Press.
When asked to explain the person and reason behind the ban, Makove simply said: “I will come back to you later,” before terminating the call. A PCC meeting in Mutare on Sunday became a platform for factions as accusations and counter accusations were traded.
Acting Manicaland provincial youth chairman, Mubuso Chinguno, is said to have led an onslaught on several Cabinet ministers from the province that are aligned to Mnangagwa, accusing them of trying to sabotage President Mugabe’s birthday bash taking place in Masvingo on Sunday.
At the receiving end were Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, Environment, Water and Climate Minister, Oppah Muchinguri, Agriculture Minister, Joseph Made and Information Minister, Chris Mushowe, who are all linked to Mnangagwa.
“It is true, I confronted them. We can’t stand and watch when they are sabotaging the President’s birthday celebrations. They are doing so in support of Mnangagwa who can’t wait to be President of this country. We sent them letters appealing for donations, but they never responded. If you check, even the parastatals under their portfolios didn’t contribute anything towards the event,” Chinguno charged.
The atmosphere is even tenser in Masvingo – the venue for this year’s 21st February movement celebrations – where the predominant Team Lacoste faction members absconded Saturday’s PCC meeting because it was called by one Amasa Nenjani, whom Kasukuwere reportedly appointed to act in the place of suspended Chadzamira.
The provincial executive has vowed to stand by Chadzamira and resolved not to recognise Nenjani who hails from Zaka district. In other provinces strategists from either camp are also reportedly meeting daily to take stock of their game plans and map the way forward.
Contacted by phone over the unending factional fights, ZANU-PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo, said all those disobeying the President would be subjected to disciplinary action.
“ZANU-PF has a constitution. We have rules and regulations that clearly state that the president’s word must be obeyed as he is the centre of power. The party has sufficient systems to handle cases whereby some members fail to do so,” Khaya-Moyo said.
Two weeks ago, Khaya-Moyo emerged from a Politburo meeting to announce that a call for unity had been made by President Mugabe, and the word “factionalism” was supposed to end. But two days later, factionalism exploded like never before, culminating into the President’s Friday state of the nation address.
As strategists from both factions burn the midnight oil to achieve their ends, ZANU-PF insiders said this week it was quite clear that personal egos have overtaken reason.