ZANU PF power struggles have taken an intriguing turn after it emerged that “spirit mediums” have waded in the ruling party’s succession battles.
The development comes as traditional chiefs yesterday gathered at the First Family’s Mazowe empire to endorse First Lady Grace Mugabe as Secretary for Women’s Affairs at the forthcoming Zanu PF elective congress.
The spirit mediums — to be led by Mbuya Nehanda and others only identified as Mutota and Tangwena — are reportedly on Saturday set to preside over a big bira (traditional religious festival) on the outskirts of Harare along Mazowe Road to seek guidance from the “ancestral spirits” on the country’s political problems, including President Robert Mugabe’s succession.
NewsDay could not immediately establish the authenticity of the so-called spirit mediums and the planned festival.
But the Zanu PF sources insisted the spirit mediums were genuine and allegedly working with war veterans in Harare and some military bigwigs linked to one faction in Zanu PF.
As jostling to succeed Mugabe, who turned 90 this year, nears a climax, NewsDay has learnt preparations for the bira were at an advanced with huge quantities of traditional beer being prepared for Saturday’s event.
There were reportedly plans that the three leading spirit mediums would declare that the ancestral spirits have refused to have Zimbabwe run by a female President.
“After such declaration, the war veterans would now go to provinces armed with the message telling people they should not support Vice-President Joice Mujuru because spirit mediums have warned against a female leader,” an insider said. “The spirit mediums would also say that there would be a war within three years if one of the faction leaders fails to take over power, while any woman who dares to take over power would be killed by the spirits.”
Mujuru and Justice minister Mnangagwa are reportedly linked to the two factions battling to succeed Mugabe.
Of late, the entry of Mugabe’s wife, Grace, in the political ring has complicated the Zanu PF succession matrix that has seen members involved in internecine attacks against each other along factional lines.
Sources told NewsDay that two of the mediums Mutota and Mbuya Nehanda were currently allegedly residing at a farm outside Harare where the event would be held.
Mbuya Nehanda, whose origins were said to be Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, and Mutota, a young man of around 26 who is believed to come from Guruve close to Zambezi River, were already at the camp while Tangwena, from Nyanga, was expected today.
“All is set except the tail of a wildebeest [ngongoni in Shona] which one of the faction members (a Cabinet minister involved in the factional wars) has promised to provide,” said the source.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, however, said he was in the dark about the event and referred questions to war veterans.
But war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda also professed ignorance of the event.
“This is the first time I am hearing about it. My advice to you is, let just wait and see how it will happen and through whom it will happen,” he said.
Sibanda on Friday issued a statement that Mujuru would not be challenged at Zanu PF’s December elective congress. But NewsDay is reliably informed that Mujuru could be challenged at the congress by either Mnangagwa or outgoing Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri.
In last week’s stormy politburo meeting, Mujuru is said to have dared Muchinguri to challenge her at the party’s December elective congress. Muchinguri is linked to the Mnangagwa faction.
The Mujuru faction has been accusing its rival faction of invoking Grace’s name to bring Mugabe’s wrath on them while advancing their factional interests.
The Women’s Affairs minister was reported to be among the delegation of about 250 traditional chiefs who visited Grace’s Mazowe business empire yesterday. Some of the party members included Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka and Senator Monica Mutsvangwa.
One chief who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were not aware why they had been summoned to Mazowe. He claimed they were just quiet like “cats stuffed in sacks”. The chief said they had no option but to endorse Grace.