The Zanu-PF succession race is gaining traction with the two main factions, allegedly led by Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, hitting the campaign trail and trading barbs ahead of the party's elective congress set for December.
Now the man they both are seeking to replace has waded into the fight, this time going after a Mnangagwa ally, Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, calling him “the devil incarnate”, accusing him of fanning divisions in the party and firing loyal editors at state-owned newspapers and replacing them with scribes who sympathise with the opposition.
Lack of a clear successor in Zanu-PF and concerns about President Robert Mugabe’s age and health are causing friction within the party.
President Mugabe publicly dressed-down information tsar Jonathan Moyo on Friday, accusing him of working to destroy Zanu-PF from within. Mr. Mugabe made the uncharacteristic attack while addressing mourners at the home of the late national hero Nathan Shamuyarira, who was buried Saturday.
In another veiled attack on Moyo at the National Heroes Acre, President Mugabe said Zanu-PF now has “weevils in our midst” and urged the party to “take care of these weevils.”
Party secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, is alleged to have gone a step further on Sunday, urging Mr. Mugabe to expel the “weevils” and told party youths to spray gamatox or pesticide to destroy the weevils. Efforts to get a comment from Mutasa were futile as he did not answer his mobile phone.
Political analyst and board member of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, Gladys Hlatshwayo, says she is greatly concerned by the language being used by the Zanu-PF top brass to describe Moyo as it borders on hate speech.
Another political analyst and former advisor to then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa, also a legal expert, says the language used is disturbing, adding it is reminiscent of events leading to the Rwandan genocide.
But why is there so much animosity against Professor Moyo within Zanu-PF? Party sources say Moyo’s troubles began Thursday when politburo members sympathetic to Mrs. Mujuru attacked him in a meeting for allegedly being sympathetic to the Mnangagwa faction.
Political analyst and editor of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, Dumisani Muleya, says the elective congress in December has heightened tensions within Zanu-PF.
Muleya’s sentiments are also echoed by Australia-based former student activist, Tapera Kapuya.
But for years, the relationship between Moyo and Mr. Mugabe has been, on again off again. Moyo has fallen in and out of favour with his boss since first becoming information minister in 2002. He was sacked in 2005 after being linked to a clandestine meeting held to discuss President Mugabe’s succession.
The Tsholotsho meeting was held on November 18, 2004, apparently to block Mrs. Mujuru’s ascendancy to her current position. Mujuru, in the camp led by her late husband, retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru, only won after Mr. Mugabe’s intervention.
Mnangagwa had allegedly tried to outmanoeuvre her to no avail. Mnangagwa and Mujuru’s camps have been locked in a bitter power struggles, moreso in the run-up to Zanu PF’s congress in December 2004. Muleya says at critical moments, Mr. Mugabe sides with Mujuru.
But does this mean a final chapter on the Moyo and Zanu-PF relationship has been written? Magaisa says Moyo has nine lives and people must not write him off.
On the other hand, the Zimbabwe Mail newspaper reports that Zanu-PF Member of Parliament for Marondera Central, Ray Kaukonde, on Friday tore into his party, accusing it of fighting for political power while the economy is collapsing.
But Kapuya says Zanu-PF is more interested in personal aggrandizement than national issues.
But when will all this friction in Zanu-PF end? Political analyst Jason Moyo, writing in the Mail and Guardian newspaper, summed it better.
Moyo says the race to succeed Mugabe has, over recent years, provided entertainment and intrigue with its endless plots and subplots, shifting characters and scripts.
But the long-running drama is getting a bit tedious, and even the keenest watchers now just want to skip to the end.