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Mugabe reads riot act

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President Robert Mugabe yesterday condemned factionalism in his Zanu PF party and warned that sterner measures will be taken against errant and undisciplined party members.

EVERSON MUSHAVA

Speaking to journalists after what had been expected to be a stormy politburo meeting in Harare, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Mugabe expressed concern over officials who were advancing personal interests at the expense of the party.

Mugabe’s warning comes at a time Zanu PF officials have been involved in public and sometimes violent fights, as factions jostle to position themselves strategically in the race to succeed the 90-year-old Mugabe.

“Sterner measures will be taken on those members who do not heed the President’s directives,” Gumbo said.

“In his introductory remarks, President Mugabe expressed deep concern over the amount of indiscipline exercised by party members in provinces.”

There has been mudslinging between Zanu PF factions ahead of the party’s elective congress in December.

The fights have seen a faction reportedly linked to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa labelling MPs linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s camp as the “Dirty Dozen” agents of the United States spy agency, Central Intelligence Agency, claiming the legislators received development aid from the United States embassy.

Hurungwe MP Temba Mliswa was on Monday slapped by
Beauty Zhuwao, the wife of Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, in Chinhoyi, forcing an abrupt end to a provincial co-ordinating committee meeting.

Earlier in the morning, Mliswa had addressed journalists in Harare where he blasted Information minister Jonathan Moyo, Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Zanu PF deputy information director Psychology Maziwisa, accusing them of hijacking the party.

Zhuwao was not spared in Mliswa’s attacks, with the latter claiming he was leading an agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

Mugabe was last month forced to address another unscheduled politburo meeting to cool down tempers that had been triggered by his wife Grace’s entry into politics.

But Gumbo said Mugabe denounced factionalism in the party saying such practice was divisive. Mugabe also reportedly criticised the State media for perpetuating divisions in Zanu PF through headlines that portrayed the party in bad light.

“He was critical of the media. He pointed out the coverage in the media, particularly The Herald where he said the headings had destructive statements about the party. He said this exposed the party to unnecessary criticism,” Gumbo said.

“Media should focus on issues rather than personalities.”
Mugabe’s remarks came at a time Mliswa had accused Moyo of abusing the State media to advance factional interests, particularly The Herald which he said was fast becoming a mouthpiece of the Mnangagwa faction.

Gumbo said the politburo had also warned members against campaigning for positions at the congress before the go-ahead.
“The use of money and vote-buying in such campaigning destroys unity in the party and it should stop,” Mugabe said.

Elections at the party’s women and youth congresses were marred by alleged vote-buying.

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