12,000 to attend Zanu PF congress

via 12,000 to attend Zanu PF congress 30 November 2014

MORE than 12,000 delegates are expected to attend President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF congress in Harare this week – and state media loyal to the long-time leader have predicted there will be “surprises” at the meeting.

Schools in the capital have unusually been ordered to shut down a week early. Although the education ministry will only say this is because of “special circumstances”, it is almost certain that the institutions will be used to provide accommodation for the delegates, who will be travelling from across the country.

The term was supposed to finish on 4 December, when the congress begins. But parents were told late last week that their children had to be collected last Friday, precipitating confusion across the country.

Well-known private boarding school Peterhouse in Marondera town, 73km from Harare, told parents in a statement posted on its website: “This does not affect us so we are continuing to function as normal.”

Zanu PF holds its congress once every five years, but rarely has a party congress attracted such attention – and such speculation.

Local news in the weeks leading up to the event has been dominated by relentless attacks on Vice President Joice Mujuru and many of her allies.

Analysts say this is because the widow of former army commander, Solomon Mujuru, had become extremely popular within the ranks of the ruling party – and the 90-year-old president was worried she might replace him at the congress.

Mujuru, 59, has been accused of corruption and being behind a plot to topple Mugabe.

The Sunday Mail said in a front-page story that Mujuru was “unlikely to retain her post” and “two surprise candidates could be elected to the VP and National Chair posts”.

The paper is perceived to be the voice of a faction of Zanu PF that supports Mugabe’s wife Grace, and currently has the upper hand in the party.