BY BLESSED MHLANGA
A bid by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s loyalists to introduce changes into Zanu PF’s electoral rules and give its leader the right to handpick provincial chairpersons has been thwarted.
Ahead of the Zanu PF annual conference that ended in Bindura on October 31, a clique of provincial chairpersons loyal to Mnangagwa campaigned for the proposals to checkmate a faction loyal to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
This was after the ruling party was forced in September to shelve provincial elections that were marred by violence, which was blamed on widening fissures in Zanu PF.
“Those who were in support of the proposal are provincial chairpersons such as Mike Madiro (Manicaland), Ezra Chadzamira (Masvingo) and Kazembe Kazembe (Mashonaland Central) and they wanted Mnangagwa to do what he did (in the Midlands) in all provinces,” said a Zanu PF insider familiar with the bid.
“They know that if elections are conducted, they will lose.
“They tried to sell the idea that if provincial chairpersons are appointed, this will end factionalism, but the proposal was shot down.”
Mnangagwa was forced to intervene after fights between his allies Daniel Mackenzie Ncube and Owen Ncube over the control of the province turned nasty.
The president is said to have ordered the two to drop their bids to lead the province and pave the way for Larry Mavima to bring calm to Midlands.
If the proposal to impose the provincial chairpersons had succeeded, Zanu PF insiders say it would have resulted in Mnangagwa strengthening his grip on the party. Mike Bimha, the acting Zanu PF spokesperson, admitted that the proposal was thrown out at the conference.
Bimha, however, denied reports that Mnangagwa was behind the proposal to bolster his power.
“Far from it, the president cannot go to provinces, it is too low a structure,” he said when asked whether the Zanu PF leader had a hand in the push to impose leaders.
“Even politburo members, they are selected from central committee members.
“What some delegates proposed was that provincial leaders should play a role in the selection of candidates, not to allow everyone, even those without grounding in the party to contest.”
Factionalism is a perennial problem in Zanu PF and in 2017 it turned bloody when the military joined the fight on the side of a faction that supported Mnangagwa and engineered a coup that toppled the late Robert Mugabe.