BY KENNETH NYANGANI Several Zanu PF heavyweights are living on borrowed time as the party hurtles towards a potentially divisive congress later this year amid revelations that many will lose their influential positions in the central committee.
President Emmmerson Mnangagwa is seen as being eager to consolidate his position in the ruling party ahead of the 2023 elections.
Mnangagwa is said to be facing growing opposition within Zanu PF because of his perceived failure to solve an economic crisis that began under the watch of his mentor, the late Robert Mugabe.
The Zanu PF congress will be held in October and there is talk within the ruling party corridors that Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who led the 2017 coup that toppled Mugabe and installed the now 79-year-old president might challenge his boss.
Mnangagwa has already ensured that the women and youth leagues, which held their elective conferences recently, are captured by his allies and the central committee is the next on his radar, insiders said.
They said those perceived to be on Chiwenga’s side face the big risk of losing their positions in elections for the central committee in the coming weeks.
The central committee, which meets once in three months is the principal organ of the congress and consists of 230 members drawn from the country’s 10 provinces.
John Paradza was appointed as the party’s new deputy secretary for youth affairs while Angeline Masuku was elected as the deputy secretary for women’s affairs. Mabel Chinomona retained her position as the secretary for women’s affairs.
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Paradza, Masuku and Chinomona are viewed as staunch Mnangagwa allies.
There are indications that the factions within the ruling party are already plotting against each other and there is a growing push by the youth to have a bigger say in the running of the party’s affairs.
Zanu PF youth leader Tendai Chiwetu told youths in the capital recently that some bigwigs would lose their central committee positions for allegedly working against Mnangagwa.
“We have party bigwigs, who are going to lose their central committee elections because they have not been supporting President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” Chiwetu said.
In Manicaland, there are indications that former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and ex-Agriculture minister Joseph Made are some of the Mugabe era heavyweights facing the axe.
“We have people like Chinamasa and Made who might not retain their positions as central committee members because they are not on the ground, they are just technocrats,” said a top Zanu PF official in Manicaland.
“We have several bigwigs, who are going to lose their positions and former Local government deputy minister Christopher Chingosho is also on the spotlight.”
Chinamasa in 2018 lost the Makoni Central parliamentary seat to MDC Alliance’s David Tekeshe.
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa could not be reached for comment on alleged divisions in the party that are said to be widening ahead of the central committee elections
The just-ended Zanu PF youth league conference created new factional fissures, which have since seen its leadership resorting to scare tactics in an attempt to put the house in order.
A camp opposed to Zanu PF Mashonaland West youth chairperson, Tapiwa Masenda was recently circulating a vote of no confidence petition to have him removed from the post for allegedly making unilateral co-options of members into the provincial executive organ and nepotism.
Twenty six out of possibly 40 provincial youth executive members had signed the petition by last week.
Mnangagwa in May this year while addressing supporters in Glen View admitted that the ruling party was being ripped apart by deep-rooted divisions ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The infighting in the ruling party has become so glaring to an extent that some party youth members have been calling to order top leadership in public platforms.
Mnangagwa blasted some individuals who he alleged were using money to get positions in the party.