via Mutasa, Chinamasa fallout deepens | The Financial Gazette by Clemence Manyukwe 17 Oct 2013
CLASHES between ZANU-PF factions in the politically restive Manicaland Province might scuttle the supposed elevation of veteran freedom fighter, Shadreck Chipanga to the Senate seat left vacant following the death of Kumbirai Kangai in August.
In terms of the new Constitution, Senators are elected under a party-list system of proportional representation, based on the number of votes cast for National Assembly members for each party in each province.
Where vacancies would have arisen, like in this case, they are filled by persons belonging to the same political parties as those who previously held the seats and must be of the same gender.
Going by ZANU-PF’s slate for Manicaland Province submitted to the Nomination Court ahead of voting on July 31, Chipanga is next in line to replace Kangai.
But political dynamics in the province suggest that his supposed elevation may not be automatic after all.
Factional fights have exploded between party cadres linked to the Minister of Presidential Affairs and ZANU-PF’s secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, and those linked to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa — a member of the Politburo — as a result of the vacant Senate seat.
While those aligned to Chinamasa are in support of Chipanga’s elevation, Mutasa’s backers want to put the brakes on the former Central Intelligence Organisation boss’ nomination to the Senate.
Chipanga has the backing of, among others, Chinamasa, Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri and retired major general Mike Nyambuya, who is the current deputy provincial chairperson.
Factionalism has haunted the province for more than three decades now.
Before the July 31 polls, a group of leading ZANU-PF members in Manicaland wrote a petition to President Robert Mugabe accusing Mutasa of fanning divisions, but both parties later came out saying they had reconciled their differences.
Mutasa seems to be unhappy with certain individuals in the province who are in the habit of scuttling his political ambitions.
In 2009, he could not garner enough support to land the position of Vice President which had become vacant following the death of Joseph Msika, which saw him losing the position to John Nkomo, now late.
This triggered the resignation of the party’s then Manicaland provincial chairperson, Basil Nyabadza, a Mutasa protégé.
Mutasa was later to support Nyabadza’s candidature in Makoni Central in the party’s primary polls held in July this year ahead of Chinamasa who later won the seat as differences between the two ministers boiled over.
Now, Mutasa is said to have set his sights on the party’s chairmanship in the event that Simon Khaya-Moyo, the incumbent, replaces Nkomo, who succumbed to cancer early this year.
While a number of ZANU-PF bigwigs have been tipped for the second vice presidency position, Khaya Moyo is considered as a front runner because of his seniority in the party.
He is currently ranked third after President Mugabe and his deputy, Joice Mujuru, and also to his advantage is an understanding reached through the Unity Accord of 1987 that reserves one of the vice presidency slots to those who were members of ZAPU at the time the agreement was signed between President Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, the former ZAPU leader.
There is also precedence in the party whereby every other ZANU-PF national chairperson including the late Msika and Nkomo have risen to become vice president of the party and the Republic.
Should Khaya Moyo succeed to fill-in Nkomo’s shoes, Mutasa, as ZANU-PF secretary for administration, would have one foot in the door by virtue of his seniority.
But once again, it is said that those aligned to Chinamasa are mobilising to torpedo his ambitions.
Sources this week said Mutasa’s loyalists are hitting back by rebuffing Chipanga, who supported Chinamasa’s election campaign.
There are even plans to write a petition to the party’s presidium, rejecting Chipanga and pushing for Kangai’s widow, even though it is not in keeping with the Constitution.
Last month, war veteran and Buhera South Member of Parliament Joseph Chinotimba is said to have moved a motion at a provincial party meeting where he proposed that Kangai’s widow replace her late husband ahead of Chipanga.
This week, he said that the proposal to ditch Chipanga was made by Buhera district, but it flopped because the Constitution stipulates that a senator must be replaced by someone of the same gender.
The war veteran was, however, livid when asked about Mutasa’s bid for the presidium saying: “Urikuda kuti timuke tabvumburudzwa tiri vana vadiki (you want us to be harassed, we are juniors). Ask the people who want to be vice president, I don’t dream to be vice president — my wife is my vice president.
“Ask President Mu-gabe whom he wants to put there, why are you afraid of him. Ask him, he is a good man not (Morgan) Tsvangirai.”
Chipanga claimed this week that he has not been approached by anyone regarding the issue, and was lost as to whom he must approach on the matter. “I have not been informed of anything, but yes I know I am the next in terms of the party’s list. The other thing is that I don’t know where I am supposed to go to ask,” said Chipanga.
ZANU-PF provincial chairperson, John Mvundura, did not want to be drawn into the issue over the phone.
He said: “My friend those are not things to ask on the phone.
“If you have questions you have to come here. You newspaper people distort the truth so I don’t talk to you.”
Pressed to comment on the bid to push for Kangai’s widow ahead of Chipanga, Mvundura had this to say; “What I can only say is that we have communicated to the Kangai family our position and they know it. We respect the Constitution.”
By referring to the Constitution, Mvundura seemed to suggest that ZANU-PF would respect the charter. In other words, the leadership might support Chipanga’s nomination.
Meanwhile, the lobbying of positions in ZANU-PF has intensified even more with the party expected to hold provincial polls next week across the country.
In Manicaland and Mashonaland East chances are high that Mvunduru and Ray Kaukonde would retain the chairmanship unopposed.