Property worth thousands of dollars was reduced to ashes after fire destroyed Zanu PF Highfield District Offices and surrounding buildings in what the party has described as an act of arson.
At Machipisa Shopping Centre, hundreds of Highfield residents were jostling to get a glimpse of the scene, while the Harare fire station team was busy trying to put off the fire.
The arson attack coincides with the preparations for the 14th Zanu-PF annual national people’s conference underway as the party started tasking its commissariat department to fill in all district and provincial posts ahead of the event.
Away from the glare of the public, intensive infighting has rocked Zanu PF have deepened as known factions jostle to succeed President Robert Mugabe (89) take positions amid .
Zanu PF Harare Provincial Chairperson, Amos Midzi, who visited the scene, said the party believes that the incident was an act of arson and expressed confidence that the perpetrators will be brought to book.
A source last night said the the arson attack could be linked to internal party divisions.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Officer Commanding Harare District, Chief Superintendent Garikayi Gwangwawa said police have since launched an investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Sources said the battles have been intensified by consultations on an extraordinary congress and a clause in the new constitution which states that “the vacancy in the office of president must be filled by a nominee of the political party which the president represented when he or she stood for election” — which effectively threw wide open the succession race, as it means any popular candidate can effectively clinch the presidency ahead of more senior members such as the vice-president.
The party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, this week said the watershed event to be held in Chinhoyi (Mashonaland West province) in December, was critical as it came after Zanu-PF’s crashing victory that “finished” the MDC-T.
This has reportedly resulted in Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who has become outspoken on the issue, and the newly appointed Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa intensifying their bids.
Plots and counter-plots have become the order of the day in the Zanu PF body politic with reports of clandestine meetings all the time being held to strategise on how to take over once Mugabe retires.
As the succession battle rages, Zanu PF heavyweights are clearly aligning themselves to camps they believe will land the top job.
Mujuru reportedly used her influence to reshuffle provincial executives before elections after raising allegations of abuse of office and corruption.
She enjoys the support of party national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo, secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and political commissar Webster Shamu, who orchestrated the removal of provincial executives reportedly aligned to Mnangagwa.
Khaya Moyo championed the demotion of Bulawayo provincial chairperson Killian Sibanda replacing him with Callistus Ndlovu, while in Manicaland Mutasa is said to have ensured Mike Madiro was booted out.
Mujuru, a beneficiary of her late husband General Solomon Mujuru’s legacy, is consolidating support in all provinces since they are critical in nomination of presidential candidates despite that Mugabe wants to stay on.
According to Zanu PF’s constitution, one has to be nominated by at least six of the 10 provinces to become president.
In 2004 Mnangagwa had managed to solicit the support of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Mashonaland Central for the post of vice-president, but the constitution was amended to accommodate a woman as one of Mugabe’s deputies.
Mujuru then had the backing of Harare, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East, but nevertheless she was elected vice-president.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa have been tussling to replace Mugabe since then.
Last year Mujuru successfully lobbied for the dissolution of District Co-ordinating Committees after it emerged that most of the structures were rallying behind Mnangagwa.
Others reportedly working closely with Mujuru include former Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde, politburo members Olivia Muchena, Sydney Sekeramayi, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Amos Midzi.
Water and Enviroment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, a former ally, has fallen out of Mujuru’s favour and reportedly crossed the floor to the Mnangagwa camp.
Mujuru allegedly instigated the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate him, outgoing Transport minister Nicholas Goche and outgoing Mines minister Obert Mpofu after a fall-out with them.
Zanu PF insiders indicate that Mpofu, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, Medium Enterpises minister Sithembiso Nyoni, Kembo Mohadi, Zanu PF women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri, Zanu PF chief Joram Gumbo and war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, among others, are aligned to the Mnangagwa faction.
Others said to be fighting in Mnangagwa’s corner are politburo member Josaya Hungwe and former Zanu PF Midlands chairperson July Moyo.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief General Constantine Chiwenga is said to be working with a clique of securocrats, politburo members and legal gurus to push his own bid. Chiwenga is said to be close to Mnangagwa.