ZANU PF leader President Robert Mugabe’s Mashonaland West backyard went up in smoke on Saturday as two factions – one led by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and the other by Mugabe’s nephew Edwin Matibiri — engaged in a verbal face-off during a charity fundraising event superintended by party national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo.
Report by Everson Mushava
The fracas led to the arrest of Matibiri — who is also eyeing Chombo’s Zvimba North constituency — after a youth from Chombo’s camp alleged that he had been verbally assaulted. He was, however, released.
The youth claimed Matibiri had assaulted him saying: “You want to vote for Chombo. Is he your father? What do you want from him? You are failing to differentiate (between) a leader and claim your Constituency Development Fund (dues).”
Sources told NewsDay yesterday police had to step in to restore order as tempers flared with supporters from both factions heckling each other as Khaya Moyo started addressing the gathering at Yomba Mafuta farming community in Raffingora, Zvimba North. According to the party sources, Khaya Moyo pleaded with the warring party supporters to “cool down and respect the programme of the day” while he organised a separate day to address their concerns.
“Tension started rising when the national chairman (Khaya Moyo) started addressing the people saying ‘Forward with Chombo’,” a source who attended the meeting told NewsDay. There was commotion with a lot of people raising their objection to the slogan claiming Chombo had done nothing for them over the 18 years he had been the MP for the area.”
According to the source, Zanu PF supporters at the event were wearing party regalia with Mugabe’s signature at the front and Chombo’s portrait at the back with the statement: “Chombo’s victory is certain” written beneath his picture.
Police and some officials from the party commissariat were forced to intervene to restore order amid counter accusations.
The meeting was attended by Agriculture minister Joseph Made, Mashonaland West provincial chairperson John Mafa, Zvimba South MP Walter Chidhakwa and Ngezi MP Bright Matonga, among other high-profile party figures.
Chidhakwa, who is said to be Matibiri’s close relative, reportedly supported Chombo, with the backing of a district administrator, only identified Mubaiwa from Harare, who was chanting pro-Chombo slogans.
“People liked Mafa’s address where he denounced violence in all forms. He called for peace and warned people against avenging spirits should they kill for politics. He received applauses,” the source said.
Mugabe on Independence Day urged co-existence, saying people should be free to wear party regalia of their choice.
Zvimba North has been a political hotbed marred by violence between Chombo and Matibiri’s supporters. After Saturday face-off between their supporters, Khaya Moyo, who had been on a whirlwind tour of provinces calling for unity, said he would return on a separate day to resolve the divisions between the two camps.
Khaya Moyo was not picking his mobile phone yesterday for a comment.
Chombo was also not reachable for a comment at the time of going to press last night.
Zanu PF is cracking due to intense factional fighting as two camps, reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, try to position themselves in the race to succeed the 89-year-old Mugabe.
Sources said primary elections to choose parliamentary candidates could prove a litmus test for the party’s survival.