via Mujuru closes in on succession battle | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda on Monday, November 25, 2013
Vice President Joice Mujuru has taken a firm lead in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe, after Saturday’s no-holds barred special Politburo meeting endorsed results in provincial elections held earlier this month.
However, the meeting acknowledged that polls in the Midlands, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central provinces were poorly organized.
The elections in the three provinces were won by allies linked to Mujuru, who is fighting a bitter battle with party stalwart Emmerson Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe in the event of his death or retirement.
The ZANU PF elections were rocked with chaos following accusations and counter-accusations that the candidates engaged in vote buying and rigging of the polls.
In the last week daggers were drawn against ZANU PF administration secretary Didymus Mutasa and party spokesman Rugare Gumbo, as the party’s faction led by Mnangagwa accused them of allegedly trying to manipulate the provincial elections to favourably position Mujuru.
Mnangagwa’s faction went into Saturday’s meeting seeking to have a re-run of the poll, citing irregularities during voting. But this was shot down after intense debate during the meeting, which lasted over six hours.
The meeting also agreed that elections in the remaining provinces will be held this weekend. Out of the seven provinces left, Mujuru needs the support of three provinces to ensure she stands a chance of succeeding the long serving Mugabe.
Any endorsement for a position in the ZANU PF presidium needs to garner the support of at least six out of the country’s 10 provinces. However Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, thought to be aligned to the Mnangagwa faction, issued a statement on Sunday dismissing the notion that the outcome of the meeting favoured one particular faction of the party.
‘It is neither true nor correct that the confirmation of the elections in Manicaland, Midlands and Mashonaland Central means that the Politburo endorsed a real or perceived faction against another real or perceived rival faction.
‘That assertion is nonsense. The Politburo is an organ of the party and not an organ of a faction. Any attempt to factionalise the Politburo is doomed to fail because it will be resisted by the ZANU PF membership which is solidly behind President Mugabe as the leader of the party, government and country,’ Moyo said.
Gumbo, who had been a victim of Moyo’s vitriolic statements in the state media told journalists after the meeting that all the bickering and complaints about election irregularities were now water under the bridge.
“The first decision was to reaffirm the provincial elections for Manicaland and Midlands and the second was the endorsement of the provincial election for Mashonaland Central,” Gumbo said.