Zanu PF infighting intensifies in Harare

Zimbabweans check election results posted outside a polling station in Mbare on August 1. Picture: Aaron Ufumeli

INFIGHTING and deep-rooted factionalism in Zanu PF has forced Harare province to shelf its restructuring exercise amid fears that divisions could jeopardise an expected victory in the June 10 by-elections.


The restructuring exercise which was aimed at weeding out all “suspected” members of a faction aligned to ousted Vice-President Joice Mujuru, had been pencilled for end of this month, but will not go ahead as planned as internal fights have reached alarming levels.

Zanu PF acting provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa confirmed the postponement, but said it was meant to focus on the forthcoming by-elections and had nothing to do with the infighting.

The ruling party is contesting all six seats in the capital, left vacant following the ouster from Parliament of MPs linked to the MDC Renewal Team.

“It’s not about factional fights or whatever you call it, we just want to focus on the by-elections so that we can direct our energies towards that and avoid electioneering,” he said.

But party insiders said recent events in Harare East where two candidates have displayed posters under the Zanu PF banner campaigning to be MPs in the June by-elections have caused a rethink in the leadership to postpone the restructuring which would have seen some executive members fall by the wayside.

“The way people are fighting in the party is something else which has rattled the leadership such that it is impossible for us to have the restructuring exercise as the losers would campaign either against the by-election candidates and ensure independent candidates win,” said a provincial executive member.

Although Zanu PF expelled Mujuru and several top leaders on factional grounds, divisions in the ruling party have continued. New wars were emerging within the party which before the December congress seemed united against the former VP.

In the new internal battles, a group of young politicians who did not participate in the armed struggle, but has been instrumental in the party was reportedly at loggerheads with the old guard. In Harare East, the party infighting is now before the courts with two candidates who have the backing of two senior politburo members claiming to be genuine Zanu PF candidates in the by-elections.

Masimirembwa said the Harare East squabbles were not centred on factionalism but “on what criteria one has to qualify to be a card-carrying member”.
“It’s not about factionalism or anything along those lines, the key issue which is under dispute and the courts hopefully will settle is the criteria used for one to be a candidate. I can’t discuss much on this as the matter is before the court (Electoral Court). I will only do so after judgment has been passed,” he said.