via Mugabe meets faction leaders – DailyNews Live 3 September 2014 by Lloyd Mbiba
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe today comes face to face with angry Zanu PF faction leaders during the party’s politburo meeting amid fears that top politicians jostling to replace the 90-year-old are prepared for an open showdown with the veteran leader.
Mugabe will chair the key meeting of his ruling party’s top decision-making body with key rivals involved in the political rivalry that has beset the country for the past weeks, expected to engage in angry exchanges.
The deep-seated tensions in Zanu PF, that reached fever pitch after Mugabe’s wife, Grace entered politics following her endorsement to become head of the ruling party’s Women’s League, have caused unprecedented clashes, escalated factional fighting, and threatens to bring down one faction.
Grace, 49, who is set to take over as Zanu PF Women’s League secretary in December at the party’s annual congress, will secure a seat in the party’s powerful politburo, amid fierce resistance and in a move widely seen as an effort to stymie vice president Joice Mujuru from succeeding Mugabe.
Mujuru is said to be battling Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe.
The two factions have been trading accusations with the Mujuru camp accusing the Mnangagwa group of feeding Mugabe with lies, including that they were opposed to Grace’s ascendency.
But the Mnangagwa camp is insisting that Mujuru is against Grace and this seems to have angered Mugabe who in the process of protecting and defending his wife, has stormed into the factional fights in one corner.
Mugabe declared he was convening an emergency meeting to discuss allegations of vote-buying and intimidation which characterised the party’s Women’s and Youth League conferences last month.
The meeting comes as chaos reigned in Harare South yesterday after anti-riot police moved in to stop a Zanu PF protest against Harare provincial political commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe, who reportedly asked politburo member Patrick Zhuwao to accommodate Grace in Mashonaland West province.
Mashayamombe yesterday alleged Zhuwao was a serial liar and loser.
“I was shocked by the allegations that Zhuwao made in the newspapers,” Mashayamombe told the Daily News yesterday.
“I never phoned him or approached him over Amai Mugabe. Zhuwao is just abusing his relationship with his uncle to tarnish my image.
“In any case, if I want to engage with the Mashonaland West province, I approach the provincial political commissar, so there is no reason why I would have called Zhuwao. He is a serial liar and a loser. I won this constituency with over 21 000 votes and Zhuwao lost in the party’s primaries.”
Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew, told Mugabe’s welcoming party at the Harare International Airport last weekend that Harare province had asked him to “accommodate” the First Family in party structures in Mashonaland West, Mugabe’s home province.
Mugabe said no one had the right to make that call.
“We are all in Harare; it is not your city alone, we all belong to Harare,” Mugabe said. “I am saying so because I heard someone sending my nephew to go and tell Mai Mugabe to leave Harare.
“I want to hear why she should leave Harare, going where? I would also want to know where the emperor of Harare (Mashayamombe) got his powers from,” Mugabe said to rapturous applause amid shouts of “weevils”.
Mashayamombe, who is also the Harare South legislator, alleged there were people misinforming Mugabe.
“As Harare province, we endorsed Amai Mugabe to take over the leadership of the Women’s League,” he said. “But some people are telling the president the wrong things saying people in Harare don’t want Amai Mugabe. We have people not from Harare making malicious statements about the leadership in Harare and this is bad.”
Zanu PF Harare youth chair, Godwin Gomwe, has also accused Mashayamombe of attempting to hijack Mugabe’s welcoming rally by distributing bales of T-shirts bearing faction-related messages.
The legislator alleged that there are senior party members pushing for his ouster.
“Gomwe is being used by some senior people to fight the Harare leadership,” he said. “Gomwe was busy phoning youths telling them to go to my constituency as president Mugabe was going to address them. This was a ploy to get the youths here and make them demonstrate against me.
“I got wind of the plot and phoned Gomwe and he denied it, saying he was not involved. Thirteen youths who came here were arrested.”
Youths, who were in support of Mashayamombe, yesterday accused two politburo members of being the brains behind the Harare turmoil.
“We know the two politburo members (names supplied) who are using Gomwe to undermine the Harare leadership and we will not sit and let this happen,” said Elliot Mafu, a Zanu PF youth.
“We must remove Gomwe because he is useless. As youths in Harare, we are saying he has failed in his mandate to represent us. He must go.”
One official said the meeting “is expected to decide on key party organisation and personnel matters as well as major policies,” added the official.
Officials said Mugabe’s intervention, which has deepened uncertainty over the party’s future, was a major step to deal with widening ructions in Zanu PF.
Insiders said they wanted “everyone” to start a dialogue aimed at ending the protracted political crisis.
Mujuru was said to be planning to “set the record straight” about her reported plan to succeed Mugabe, who was re-elected last year.