ZANU PF factionalism reared its ugly head yesterday when Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to officially open a private ward at Masvingo General Hospital after several G40 faction-linked legislators boycotted the event.
By Tatenda Chitagu
The private ward, formerly an old nurses’ home, was refurbished by the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church at a cost of $40 000.
The majority of the 26 legislators in Masvingo are linked to G40 and they once took Psychomotor minister Josaya Hungwe and Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa to task over the allocation of sugarcane plots in the Lowveld after they petitioned President Robert Mugabe to intervene last year to stop the move, which they claimed was done on partisan lines.
Most of them, including the local Masvingo Urban MP, Daniel Shumba, were conspicuous by their absence yesterday.
Only Chiredzi South MP Callisto Gwanetsa, Chiredzi West legislator Darlington Chiwa, Gutu South MP Paul Chimedza and Bikita South MP Beauty Chabaya – said to be fence-sitting – were in attendance from the G40 camp, while the rest were from the Lacoste faction.
On the other hand, Lacoste faction-linked MPs got a standing ovation when they were introduced, including Mahofa and Hungwe.
Speaking at the event, Mnangagwa preached peace ahead of next year’s elections.
“I appeal to the Church to pray for peace, love and harmony as we head for elections next year. Prayer is powerful,” he said, amid applause from the SDA members present.
Analysts, however, were sceptical about his call for peace, given Zanu PF’s tainted record of political violence in many elections.
Mnangagwa was at pains to disassociate his visit from the provincial polls to be held tomorrow.
“The church invited the Health ministry, who then invited me. I was invited through the ministry. In their invitation letter, they mentioned that it is a state-of-the-art ward, so I wanted to be associated with that.
“I said to myself, if I do not go, they will say I refused to come. And if I did not come, we could have lost some votes. The church preaches love and harmony and if you go to people who agree on many issues, they will agree to vote for us,” he said amid laughter.