TWO Zanu PF ministers — Jonathan Moyo (Informational, Media and Broadcasting Services) and Tendai Savanhu (Lands and Rural Resettlement deputy minister) — nearly traded blows after they allegedly clashed along factional lines while receiving President Robert Mugabe at the Harare International Airport last Sunday.
Party insiders said the two Zanu PF politburo members haggled over an undisclosed matter for some minutes before Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere intervened and cooled down the tempers.
Moyo and Savanhu were among top government officials who braved the early morning chill to receive Mugabe who was coming home from a week-long business trip to China.
Savanhu yesterday played down the alleged tiff, saying: “It was a gentlemen’s talk. I was just advising him that the airport was not the best forum to discuss party business. We agreed and even shook hands the time we parted.
“It’s not true that we nearly fought. How could that happen at such a high security zone and in the presence of President Mugabe? People are simply blowing issues out of proportion.”
Savanhu, however, could not disclose the subject of their discussion.
Moyo could not be reached for comment.
But party insiders insisted the heated debate could have turned into an ugly scene had Kasukuwere not intervened and separated them.
The alleged nasty exchanges occurred in the presence of Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao.
The sources said Savanhu could have been angered by the negative publicity he has lately been receiving in the State media headed by Moyo where he was allegedly portrayed as working with Harare provincial chairperson Amos Midzi to block First Lady Grace Mugabe’s political ascendancy.
As if to give credence to the allegations, Mugabe launched a tirade against the party’s Harare provincial leadership, accusing them of attempting to push his wife out of the capital.
“The two ministers seemed to have been arguing over a certain party-related matter before Savanhu threateningly charged towards Moyo,” a Zanu PF source, who declined to be named, said.
Both Savanhu and Moyo are believed to belong to rival factions fighting to succeed Mugabe.
Savanhu is said to be a member of a faction fronted by Vice-President Joice Mujuru while Moyo is reportedly linked to a rival faction led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Of late, members of the two factions have been publicly slugging it out against each other, a development which prompted Mugabe to call an urgent Politburo meeting last Wednesday to cool down the tempers ahead of the party’s elective congress in December.
At the politburo meeting, Savanhu reportedly challenged Moyo, Kasukuwere and Zhuwawo to play a video recording that the trio had allegedly claimed to have which Mujuru allegedly said Mugabe was too old and no longer fit to lead the party.
After the no-holds-barred meeting, Mugabe pleaded for unity among party members and ordered Moyo to desist from exerting his influence on the media to fan divisions.
Several top officials linked to the Mujuru camp, among them party administration secretary Didymus Mutasa, have over the past weeks been receiving savage attacks in the State media where they were accused of fanning factionalism and divisions.