A ZANU PF faction reportedly aligned to Vice-President Joice Mujuru has dumped former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and let him defend his Manicaland senatorial bid after suspecting him of harbouring ambitions to unseat Mujuru, NewsDay has learnt.
Gono had been earmarked to replace the late Zanu PF politburo member Kumbirai Kangai as Manicaland senator until he was last month disqualified by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for not being a registered voter in the province.
The former central bank boss later pinned his hopes on last Wednesday’s politburo meeting, but his dreams also went up in smoke amid revelations that the Mujuru faction, which he is believed to belong, failed to defend him and left him at the mercy of Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who will now decide his fate.
Mnangagwa is believed to be leading a rival faction that is battling to take over from President Robert Mugabe, whose advanced age has been a cause of anxiety in Zanu PF.
‘There has been a realisation within the Mujuru camp that Gono had ambitions and would use the senatorial seat as a launch pad to take over the party leadership,” a Zanu PF insider told NewsDay.
“They think that Gono would be appointed minister in a Cabinet reshuffle, get a slot in the central committee and politburo and could likely be nominated by Mugabe to take over after him because of his close links to the First Family. That would deal a blow to both Mujuru and Mnangagwa.”
There was a belief, the source said, that Mugabe would be more
comfortable in appointing Gono as his successor to protect the First Family’s business interests.
Another insider added: “Mujuru was chairing the politburo after Mugabe left to attend a funeral [in Southerton]. The camp did not defend Gono when the politburo decided to be bound by [Zec chairperson Rita] Makarau’s decision.”
After the politburo meeting, Mnangagwa initially said Gono’s senatorial bid had hit a brickwall and the case was now a closed chapter, but later made a U-turn following protests by fellow senior party members who insisted that the issue was not conclusively exhausted.
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have denied reports linking them to the two factions.