via Mugabe succession in ugly twist November 8, 2013 by Blessed Mhlanga for NewsDay
Zanu PF factional fights have reportedly reached a crescendo in the Midlands province where five top party officials believed to be linked to politburo member Emmerson Mnangagwa have filed a $50 million criminal defamation lawsuit against provincial chairman and Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya — an alleged Vice-President Joice Mujuru ally.
Mnangagwa and Mujuru are believed to be leading two distinct Zanu PF factions fighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe, although both have publicly denied involvement in the alleged factions.
The latest development followed a recent petition by Douglas Kanengoni, Machaya’s chief elections agent, where he accused Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia, former provincial chairman July Moyo, Douglas Tapfuma, Gokwe-Kana MP Owen Ncube and Zhombe MP Mackenzie Ncube of attempting to rig the just-ended party provincial elections in favour of their faction’s preferred candidate Larry Mavhima.
In a 14-page petition, which was presented to the presiding officer Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti soon after the elections, Kanengoni demanded that the five be taken to a disciplinary hearing for alleged electoral fraud.
Irked by the allegations, the five Zanu PF officials led by their lawyer Valentine Mutatu wrote to Machaya on Tuesday demanding $50 million defamation charges, claiming that the allegations raised in Kanengoni’s petition had the potential of destroying their political careers.
“The contents of the document are malicious and false and bent on destroying the political life of our clients. When it (Kanengoni’s letter) was presented to Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, he proceeded to act on the basis of that document and excluded or suspended our clients from supervising or participating in any form in the electoral process,” read part of the letter served to Machaya by the Messenger of Court on Wednesday.
Mutatu claims that Kanengoni’s petition had the net effect of painting his clients as dishonest people bent on rigging elections.
“As a result of the false and malicious disinformation contained in the document, which was understood to mean that our clients are dishonest and are bent on rigging elections, our clients suffered damages,” Mutatu wrote in a letter filed as ref VM/327/9ec.
Zanu PF insiders told NewsDay yesterday that the lawsuit was likely to open a can of worms ahead of the party’s conference in Chinhoyi next month and general elections in 2018 when Mugabe was expected to have stepped down.