Midlands Provincial Governor Jason Machaya’s political life is hanging on a knife edge following accusations by members of his perceived Zanu PF faction allegedly led by Emmerson Mnangagwa that he had defected to a rival camp led by Retired General Solomon Mujuru.
As political gamesmanship and power struggles continue to play out in the heavily fractured Zanu PF, Machaya the party’s provincial chairman, has found himself in the firing line after he was accused of supporting the Mujuru faction.
Mnangagwa, long touted as Mugabe’s heir-apparent, faces a stiff challenge from the Mujuru camp, which is positioning Vice- President Joice Mujuru to take over the reins.
Well-placed sources within the party said there were moves to block the reappointment of Machaya as governor and allegations of corruption have been put forward to support their campaign.
The term of office for governors expires this Saturday (August 21), paving the way for Mnangagwa’s henchmen to try and block Machaya’s reappointment.
Machaya stands accused of stealing 21 tonnes of fertiliser from Kwekwe Grain Marketing Board (GMB) which he allegedly converted to his own use.
The fertiliser had been donated to villagers in Silobela and Zhombe under the presidential inputs scheme but was not distributed to those areas. Although confirming that he collected the fertiliser, Machaya denied allegations that it was for personal use.
“I did not take fertiliser meant for Zhombe and Silobela. The presidential allocation of 21 tonnes which I collected was for Gokwe and has already been distributed,” said Machaya.
However, sources from Zanu PF Kwekwe district insisted that Machaya stole the fertiliser which was deposited at the GMB.
As cracks in Zanu PF continue to widen, party insiders have said the move was an attempt by the Mnangagwa faction to elbow out Machaya, who is accused of crossing over to the Mujuru faction.
It has emerged that there were efforts to replace Machaya with Mnangagwa’s trusted ally July Moyo, who was suspended as party chairman following the botched Tsholotsho declaration.
Last month, Kwekwe Rural District Coordinating Committee chairman George Valentine Makombe was elbowed out as chairman following allegations that he was aligned to the Mujuru camp.
In an attempt to save his political life, Makombe wrote to Machaya seeking recourse and reinstatement, accusing his detractors of targeting him along factional lines.
“. . . at a meeting at the district party offices . . . I was verbally and physically attacked in the presence of central committee, provincial and district members, being accused of blocking Mai (Mrs)Mnangagwa’s passage to the central committee. Again, I was told by (Masango) Matambanadzo and (Owen) Ncube that I belonged to Mujuru’s camp . . .,” wrote Makombe.
Asked by NewsDay, if he was indeed the author of that letter, Makombe confirmed, saying: “Yes, I wrote that letter, but it is confidential and you were not supposed to have seen that letter”.
He warned Machaya in that letter that his head was also on the block following allegations that he (Machaya) belonged to the Mujuru camp.
“Members from the Kwekwe DCC urban have taken it upon themselves to organise and address meetings in our DCC . . . because the DCC chairman and the provincial chairman Cde Machaya have fallen out of favour with senior leadership, particularly Cde E D Mnangagwa. The two of us have been aligned to a so-called Mujuru camp,” he wrote.
Contacted for comment, Machaya confirmed having seen the letter but denied there were any problems in the party’s provincial structures.
“There is only one Zanu PF. I am not aware of any problems in the party here.”