ZANU PF secretary for administration and Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa is reportedly gearing to upstage ex-Zipra cadres for the party’s chairmanship position at the December party elective congress in the event that party national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo moves up to become Vice-President, it has been learnt.
This came as Mutasa, who is emerging as the favourite to land the Zanu PF national chairmanship, has reportedly embarked on a nationwide purge of perceived sympathisers of Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa ahead of the elective youth congress in August.
The reported purge was being done under the guise of a national restructuring programme for party structures.
But informed sources said Mutasa was on a crusade to consolidate his stranglehold on party structures on behalf of Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s camp.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa are reportedly angling to succeed President Robert Mugabe (90) when he finally leaves the helm.
“He [Mutasa] knows that once the structures become compliant, he will snatch the chairmanship while Mujuru takes the reins. By his actions, he is destablising the structures ahead of the youth elections in August,” a politburo member said yesterday.
Mutasa last week accused Mnangagwa of being divisive, calling all party members to eradicate factionalism by applying the deadly pesticide “Gamatox on weevils” bent on destroying the party from inside.
The threats by Mutasa came after Mugabe made successive surprising vitriolic attacks on Information minister Jonathan Moyo for using the media to cause factionalism in the party.
But yesterday, Mutasa, who was also last week gagged by President Robert Mugabe for allegedly fanning divisions in the party after his tirade against Mnangagwa and Moyo, referred all questions
to party spokesman Rugare Gumbo when reached for comment.
Gumbo said the issue of dealing with party structures was best handled by political commissar Webster Shamu or secretary for youth Absolom Sikhosana. “About the youth, ask Cde Shamu or youth secretary Sikhosana,” he said.
But Gumbo said contrary to widely-held beliefs that the position of national chairman was reserved for former Zapu officials, it was open to any member to contest.
“It’s unfortunate . . . a misunderstanding that the position was reserved for Zapu members. Those who got the position like John Nkomo and Joseph Msika were fairly seniors in the party. There is nothing written about the chairman’s position in the unity agreement,” he said. “It’s only the Vice-President’s post that is reserved and it’s written in black and white.”
It is Mutasa’s moves to suspend or campaign for particular youth leaders that have unnerved some party stalwarts who claimed that he was abusing his authority by unleashing State intelligence operatives on various constituencies to “dig up” dirt on particular candidates with the intention of suspending them.
Mutasa last week openly told party youths in Manicaland to support Makoni West MP Kudzi Chipanga against Gokwe-Nembudzia MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena, who is also interested in the national youth chairmanship, as he was reportedly sympathetic to the Mnangagwa camp. NewsDay understands that victimisation of those seen to be sympathetic to Mnangagwa has already begun in most provinces as the party moves closer to the elective congress.
This week, serious infighting broke out in Mashonaland Central Province, resulting in the immediate suspension of three youth league executives on Monday for an effective six months for presiding over a meeting that passed a vote of no confidence on the youth vice-chairman.
The suspension of Mashonaland Central youth league chairman Godfrey Tsenangamu, youth league secretary for administration Kudakwashe Sindu and secretary for indigenisation Kaleb Karima came after provincial deputy chair Mujubheki Maodzeka, who had been fired by the youth league three weeks ago, sensationally claimed that he was being victimised for supporting VP Mujuru.
The Mujuru ally had been fired for associating with Dugmore Chimukoko from the same faction, who had lost to Tsenangamu, to disrupt a district youth meeting in Muzarabani recently.
Tsenengamu is reportedly linked to ex-provincial chairperson Dickson Mafios, who is linked to the Mnangagwa camp. Labour minister Nicholas Goche is fingered in the fights, with allegations that he was pushing Chimukoko for the national youth executive.
The provincial meeting that suspended Tsenengamu, Sindu and Karima in absentia was attended by Chidamba, provincial political commissar Cowas Mujeri, provincial secretary for administration Joseph Mapiki, Muzarabani MP and deputy secretary for legal affairs Christopher Chitindi and secretary for security Wonder Mashange, who reportedly bulldozed their way into the meeting without invitation.
On Monday, the provincial executive held a closed-door meeting in which the three youth league executives were suspended and sources said there were direct exchanges between Chidamba and Mashange with the latter admonishing the disciplinary deputy chair to avoid emotions in dealing with party issues.
Six out of 10 provinces were reportedly chaired by Mujuru backers.
In Midlands, Wadyajena’s businesses were under siege from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in a move seen as victimisation for his allegiance to Mnangagwa. In Masvingo, the Mnangagwa faction is angling for the dismissal of the Callisto Gwanetsa-led executive, while similar pushes were being made in other provinces, citing irregularities and vote manipulation by the Mujuru faction.
In Manicaland, Chimanimani Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, believed to be allied to the Mnangagwa faction, has reportedly been disqualified as a central committee member.
Mutasa recently said she had automatically lost the position after contesting and losing the provincial chairmanship position which was won by John Mvundura.