Cracks within Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party have widened as senior officials differ on pressure from the party’s youth league to expel former party secretary general and veteran nationalist Edgar Tekere and deputy information secretary Ephraim Masawi.
ZANU-PF's youth wing called at the weekend for Tekere’s suspension and eventual dismissal, accusing him of distorting the party's history in his recently published book, "A Lifetime of Struggle." Masawi is under fire for attending the book's launch.
In his book, Tekere called President Robert Mugabe is a liability to Zimbabwe and laid responsibility for the country's deepening crisis at the president's doorstep.
Attempts by party officials to turn Zimbabwean state media guns on Tekere fizzled as senior officials including Vice President Joyce Mujuru and her husband Solomon Mujuru, a retired army general, refused to be drawn into the flap.
In 2004, when Mujuru emerged as a candidate for the vice presidency, Tekere said he supported Mujuru's candidacy over that of her arch-rival Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The state-run Herald newspaper was left to interview war veteran and former deputy minister George Rutanhire, who said Tekere “suffered bouts of mental instability in the past and has no moral grounds to question President Mugabe’s leadership qualities.”
ZANU-PF youth lambasted the party chiefs for leaving it to Rutanhire and war veteran and opposition politician Patrick Kombayi to question Tekere's assertions.
Tekere said he was responsible for Mugabe’s rise to the helm of the party.
Tekere was expelled from ZANU-PF in 1988 and re-admitted in December. ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira the demand from the party's youth league for the expulsion of Tekere had been taken under consideration by the leadership.
But ZANU-PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa, who is also minister of state security and in charge of land reform, told the Herald that Mr. Mugabe would decide Tekere's fate in the party once he returned from vacation.
Senior analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group's Southern African office was present at the launch of the book and told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he foresaw its contents would divide the ruling party.