KWEKWE — The political rivalry between Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has been exposed.
Report by Blessed Mhlanga
The two held separate meetings within 10km of each other at the same time and in the same city of Kwekwe last Friday.
Party insiders described the tense development as a manifestation of the widening rift between the two front-runners in the Zanu PF succession race.
Mujuru toured fertiliser-manufacturing company Sable Chemicals in the company of top Zanu PF ministers and party officials, among them Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Midlands provincial chairman and Zanu PF national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, while Mnangagwa had army generals with him, officially
opening two classroom blocks at Mbizo High School.
Mnangagwa was accompanied by the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwengwa and Zimbabwe National Army Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda.
Mujuru and her entourage travelled by road, while Mnangagwa and his delegation were aboard an army helicopter.
A top Zanu PF official, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, said normally junior party cadres (in this case Mnangagwa) would be expected to cancel or postpone their programme in the event of such clashes and respect protocol.
“Mnangagwa was supposed to have attended the tour of Sable Chemicals by Mujuru, then proceed to his own function in Mbizo because these clashes send wrong signals even if they are not intended,” the official said.
Hundreds of Zanu PF supporters led by Midlands provincial secretary for security Owen “Mudha” Ncube — viewed by many as Mnangagwa’s chief strategist — gave Mnangagwa a rousing welcome normally accorded to party leader President Robert Mugabe.
Contacted for comment over the alleged rift, Gumbo, however, played down the issue, saying it was a mere clash of programmes.
“You think this clash gives credence to media reports of factions in Zanu PF? Far from it,” Gumbo retorted.
“This was just a mere coincidence. It was not planned and I don’t know who made the arrangements because I was only invited to come here only to hear that there was another function.”
Initially both programmes were scheduled to start at 9am, but Mujuru’s tour was later deferred to 2pm, while the Mbizo function started after 12:30pm.
Journalists from the State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation had to ditch the Mnangagwa programme after receiving reports of Mujuru’s arrival at Sable Chemicals at lunchtime.
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have been fingered as leading factions fighting to succeed Mugabe.
They have, however, both publicly denied the allegations.