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Critics Say Zanu PF Factionalism Fueling Zimbabwe Economic Crisis

  • Thomas Chiripasi

President Robert Mugabe with his two deputies, Phelekezela Mphoko (L) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (R). Collage by Ntungamili Nkomo

President Robert Mugabe with his two deputies, Phelekezela Mphoko (L) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (R). Collage by Ntungamili Nkomo

President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday called for unity in his party but his critics are worried that Zanu PF Politburo did not come out with tangible plans for tackling key issues affecting Zimbabweans.

The ruling Zanu PF party’s supreme decision making body between congresses, the Politburo, met at the party’s headquarters only a few minutes after President Mugabe told his supporters that there was no need for internal squabbles in the party. He urged party members to unite.

Factionalism has reached fever pitch in Zanu PF over Mr. Mugabe’s succession with a group said to be led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa calling itself Team Lacoste and another known as Generation 40 or G40 alleged to be loyal to First Lady Grace Mugabe seeking to outwit each other at any available opportunity.

Hurungwe East legislator Sarah Mahoka, who is also the ruling party’s national secretary for finance in the Women’s League, torched a storm when she called on Mnangagwa, to restrain his backers from using violence as he seeks to take over from Mr. Mugabe in the event that he leaves office.

But Mahoka’s remarks that were made in the full glare of Mr. Mugabe and his two deputies, Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, were criticized by some in the fractious Zanu PF.


A pro-Zanu PF group calling itself Save Zanu PF Campaign, which claims to be seeking the restoration of the ruling party’s founding principles, said Mahoka’s utterances were pre-planned and meant to embarrass Mnangagwa.

The group’s national coordinator, Godfrey Tsenengamu, issued a statement calling on the party’s disciplinary committee chaired by Mphoko to suspend Mahoka after going through the party’s internal disciplinary processes.

Another Zanu PF supporter, Champion Gonese, said Mr. Mugabe was right to call for his party members to stop attacking each other on social media, saying this does not portray the party in good light ahead of the 2018 general elections.

Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and presidential spokesperson George Charamba have been fighting over the succession question.

A group of war veterans had earlier threatened to bar Moyo from Wednesday’s politburo meeting but the former freedom fighters were a no-show at the Zanu PF headquarters.

Independent political researcher, Tjenesani Ntungagwa, said factionalism is part of Zanu PF’s political processes.

Mr. Mugabe on Wednesday said the factional fights were giving former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his party some relevance.


MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu noted that his party is concerned that the ruling party is not putting its eyes on the ball. Instead of concentrating on the country’s comatose economy and drought affecting thousands of people in the countryside, Gutu said it is worrisome that the Politburo chose to dwell on petty factional fights in the ruling party.

This view was shared by independent political analyst David Masunda.

Harare resident Kelvin Hamandishe said the failure by Zanu PF to deal with problems affecting the nation and the infighting within the ruling party should be a wake-up call to the opposition.

Hamandishe said there is no option for the opposition but to craft a formidable front that can successfully challenge Mr. Mugabe in the next elections.

Given the widening rift in Zanu PF, Ntungagwa said the ruling party is reducing its chances of winning in the 2018 elections.

Masunda added that Mr. Mugabe, who turns 92 on February 21st, has lost control of his party.

The Zanu PF congress endorsed Mr. Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 elections. At the same time, the expulsion of former vice president Joice Mujuru from both government and the ruling has not stopped the succession debate within and outside Zanu PF.