BY KENNETH NYANGANI
The rivalry between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga came to the fore at the just ended Zanu PF youth conference where the party avoided elections for the league’s second most senior post to mask the divisions.
Mnangagwa is said to have imposed Gutu West MP and Masvingo provincial youth chairman John Paradza as the deputy national chairperson for the youth league.
Paradza was elected unchallenged despite a push ahead of the conference to elect Mutare district coordinating committee secretary for youth affairs Danmore Mambondiyani.
The MP took over from Tendai Chirau, who has been acting youth secretary following the firing of Pupurai Togarepi.
Mnangagwa will handpick the next youth chairperson in what insiders said had given him a head-start in the tussle for the control of the ruling party ahead of the women’s league conference and the main party congress at the end of the year.
Chiwenga was not given any platform to speak at the conference, which was presided over by Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri.
“All provinces were whipped into submission to support Paradza and he went uncontested in the elections,” said a disgruntled Zanu PF youth league executive.
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“There were some disgruntlements among the party leadership, but party leadership led by Mnangagwa wanted Paradza after Mnangagwa directed that the party members rally behind Paradza.
“Mambondiyani wanted the deputy secretary for youth affairs position, but came third in his Manicaland province and could not compete for the top position despite spirited efforts to smuggle him to the top position.”
Sources in the ruling party yesterday told this publication that deputy Sports minister Tinotenda Machakaire is set to be appointed substantive secretary for youths affairs.
Machakaire, a close ally of Mnangagwa, attended the youth conference and received a resounding applause from the youths.
In his opening remarks at the conference, Mnangagwa described youths as the vanguard of the ruling party.
“Youths you are the vanguard of the party, please play your role and defend this country,” he said.
“We defended this country through the barrel of the gun, but you don’t have to sweat to defend the country.
Observers said Mnangagwa was not taking chances as he is still smarting from the district and provincial elections held last year that saw his loyalists losing in the polls to a faction reportedly backing Chiwenga.