ZANU PF slides into chaos ahead of annual conference

via ZANU PF slides into chaos ahead of annual conference | SW Radio Africa by Mthulisi Mathuthu on Monday, November 18, 2013

With only a few weeks before ZANU PF’s December conference, factional fighting has been laid bare as Robert Mugabe loyalists publicly quarrelled over provincial elections.

Elections for provincial chairmen were held over a week ago in Manicaland, Midlands and Mashonaland Central where John Mvundura, Jason Machaya and Luke Mushore were respectively declared winners amidst allegations of vote-rigging.

A Sunday Daily News report said Mugabe had, prior to his departure to Singapore last Wednesday, attempted to contain the crisis by trying to resolve the sharp differences that arose following the chaotic provincial elections.

However, according to reports things came to a head when Presidential spokesman George Charamba suggested that the results of the Mashonaland provincial elections did not stand.

Reports Monday said senior party members were livid with Charamba who announced last week that the politburo had not yet received results of the Mashonaland provincial elections.

ZANU PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa told the NewsDay newspaper Monday that Charamba had ‘jumped the gun’. In a weekend Daily News report spokesman Rugare Gumbo agreed with Mutasa saying Charamba was a ‘mere civil servant’ with no mandate to communicate ZANU PF issues.

Information minister Jonathan Moyo defended Charamba whom he said was communicating President Mugabe’s message. Moyo dubbed as ‘mischievous’ anybody disagreeing with Charamba’s communication from Mugabe.

According to analysts there is more to the clashes over the provincial elections than meets the eye. ZANU PF holds an elective congress in December 2014 where a successor to Mugabe is expected to be chosen. Provincial executive members to be officially confirmed at this year’s annual conference will play a key role in the election of the party’s top leadership at next year’s congress.

On Monday SW Radio Africa’s correspondent Simon Muchemwa said tension has been bubbling under the surface for a long time as feuding factions within the party are positioning themselves to take over from Mugabe in the next few years.

According to Muchemwa the Charamba-Mutasa public spat spoke to factional clashes and could spill into a major crisis needing Mugabe’s decisive intervention ahead of the December conference, to be held in Chinhoyi. On his return from Asia Mugabe could be forced to crack the whip, Muchemwa said.

ZANU PF has been dogged by factional feuds for decades and as Mugabe advances in age factions have largely been driven by the issue of succession. Both Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are known to lead opposing factions and are also known to be fighting to succeed Mugabe.