EX-GOVERNOR and Chivi-Mwenezi senator Josiah Hungwe has reportedly assumed the “godfather” mettle in the fractious Zanu PF Masvingo province following the death of Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge, who was the most senior party official, party sources have said.
REPORT BY TATENDA CHITAGU OWN CORRESPONDENT
This came after President Robert Mugabe, at the burial of Mudenge at the Heroes’ Acre last month hinted he would always refer to Hungwe on the “goings on” in the province.
Mugabe’s rhetoric was directly interpreted as anointing Hungwe as the party’s provincial “godfather”.
“Zanu PF officials in the province believe Mugabe gave Hungwe the power to steer the province. By mentioning Hungwe, he has been capped as the one left with authority and with direct access to Mugabe. Hungwe is one of the most senior and favoured party members left,” a senior party official said.
A towering figure, Hungwe told NewsDay he was providing leadership by implementing what Mugabe had urged at the Heroes’ Acre that is “to unite Zanu PF” ahead of polls.
“I am now focusing on uniting the party ahead of elections, and we are doing a lot to consolidate Zanu PF’s position. We have many upcoming programmes to make us stronger,” Hungwe said last week.
However, another ex-provincial governor and Zanu PF politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire said: “I do not comment on such arguments when the politburo is there. That is the structure of the party which states the party hierarchy and that is well documented. I do not respond to people who want to call themselves senior because the party structure is there for all to see.”
Mavhaire, who has kept a low profile although he is also regarded as the most senior Zanu PF party cadre, was indirectly referring to Hungwe’s claims that he was the most senior Zanu PF member in the faction-riddled province.
The party sources also said Hungwe’s dominance was being resisted by a faction reportedly led by Mavhaire which is aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Hungwe reportedly belongs to a faction sympathetic to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa are reportedly battling to succeed Mugabe, although the pair has publicly denied they have ambitions to succeed the veteran leader.