TOP Zanu PF officials and legislators from the Midlands province on Friday reportedly snubbed a field day at Lozani Farm, Kwekwe, where Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was guest of honour as factionalism in the ruling party intensifies.
BY BRENNA MATENDERE
While it is tradition for top officials including party legislators or Cabinet ministers to grace State events officiated by a member of the Presidium, there was a record low number of heavyweights at the Friday event. Zanu PF has 22 MPs in the province.
Highly-placed sources told NewsDay yesterday that reports of fissures in the ruling party which forced Home affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe to denounce plans for a coup to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week were some of the reasons why several officials stayed away from the event.
“People are gripped with uncertainty especially these days where reports of factionalism that created fissures during the (late former President Robert) Mugabe era begin to emerge. In Midlands, people in the party want to show extreme loyalty to number 1 (Mnangagwa), so the majority snubbed the event in order to send that message,” the source said.
Notable top party officials who attended the event include provincial spokesperson Cornelia Mpereri, and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe MP Prosper Machando. But party provincial chairperson Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, his deputy Robson Nyathi among other provincial leaders and senior party deployees in government were conspicuous by their absence.
From Harare, Chiwenga was accompanied by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Agriculture deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos, while Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri who had been expected to attend was absent.
Kwekwe has several Zanu PF cadres in top echelons of government including State security minister Owen Ncube and Local Government minister July Moyo who were also not in attendance.
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Early this year, Chiwenga failed to attend a field day at Mnangagwa’s Precabe Farm in Kwekwe where he was supposed to be guest of honour and Defence minister and party chairperson Oppah Muchinguri stood in his stead.
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF Midlands deputy chairperson Nyathi said it was not deliberate that the majority of party officials in the province did not show up at Chiwenga’s event.
“As for me I did not attend because I had other commitments. But the MP of that area was there as well as his councillor. Due to the COVID-19 there was also need for the gathering to be kept small. It’s not true that there are any party officials who snubbed the event officiated by Vice-President Chiwenga,” Nyathi, who is also MP for Shurugwi North, said.
Speaking at the event, Chiwenga told farmers that wheat production was essential for development of the country.
“The agricultural sector is a key economic enabler which propels and generates growth in all sectors of the economy.
“The sector also provides the much-needed household nutrition and national food security. The production of winter wheat is, therefore, essential for the country, as it provides the raw material for the bread and confectionery industry,” Chiwenga said.
“In this regard, there is need for increased investment by the private sector and individual farmers to augment government efforts in revamping the sector.”