Vice President Joice Mujuru scored a crucial victory in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe at Saturday’s special politburo meeting where Zanu PF’s supreme decision-making body endorsed crucial disputed election results in Mashonaland Central province.
Factional fights between two factions in Zanu PF, said to be led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mujuru, have intensified lately as they try to position themselves ahead next year’s crucial elective congress. The two, however, have consistently denied leading factions in the party.
“We have re-affirmed our decision on Midlands and Manicaland provinces, so the results stand,” said Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo of the disputed polls. “We have also endorsed the elections held in Mashonaland Central so it is over now. All that talk is now water under the bridge.”
Gumbo’s comment was in apparent reference to the trading of barbs by members of the two factions in the media over disputed provincial elections in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Midlands – all won by Mujuru loyalists.
“We decided to let bygones be bygones. We are moving on. We are a revolutionary party and so it is done,” he said.
Whoever wins the most provinces is likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe, who many think is serving his last term of office. Many also believe it is now a tall order for Mnangagwa, without much support in the Matebeleland regions, to overtake Mujuru in the race to control the provinces.
Mr. Mugabe chaired Saturday’s meeting following the suspension of polls in the remaining seven provinces.
Many in Zanu PF were expecting the president to lead discussions to nullify the elections in Mashonaland Central, especially after his spokesman, George Charamba, had waded into the discussion, insinuating his boss was unhappy with the process and results in Mrs. Mujuru’s province.
Sources in the meeting say it was a no-holds-barred caucus where the issue of seniority was also discussed following media comments by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, a Mnangagwa loyalist, that Mrs. Mujuru should be challenged in an election rather than receive power on a silver platter.
Asked to confirm, Gumbo said; “Yes that subject was also discussed. We had that debate. Obviously Mai Mujuru is in the presidium and so she is senior and she cannot be challenged because in Zanu PF we respect the issue of seniority – we have a hierarchy and that is that.”
The politburo also agreed that elections in the remaining seven provinces will be held next Saturday.