Perceptions of the balance of power and influence within Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party shifted again on Monday as a state-controlled newspaper said Vice President Joyce Mujuru had reaffirmed her support for President Robert Mugabe's re-election, urging voters in her Mount Darwin West constituency to vote for him March 29.
Her statement in the state-controlled Herald newspaper echoed sentiments by retired army general Vitalis Zvinavashe, a top ZANU-PF member in Masvingo Province who castigated party politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa for endorsing Simba Makoni, the former finance minister who declared for the presidency last month.
The report came amid speculation that Mujuru and her husband, Solomon Mujuru, a former army commander, and Zvinavashe himself, secretly backed Makoni.
Meanwhile, some ZANU-PF members have started to drop out of parliamentary races in constituencies where the ruling party had more than one candidate running due in large part to the refusal of senior party officials to accept primary election losses.
Zvinavashe announced that Finance Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and ruling party heavyweight Dzikamai Mavhaire have withdrawn bids for senate seats.
Mavhaire and ZANU-PF Political Commissar Elliot Manyika declined to comment. But Eddison Zvobgo Jr., who had also registered as a candidate for the Masvingo Central house seat, confirmed that he too was dropping his bid for office.
The withdrawals somewhat calmed turmoil within ZANU-PF which has been shaken by challenges to its senior leaders, including President Mugabe.
Political analyst John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe professor, told reporter Carole Gombakomba that despite Mujuru’s affirmation that she supports Mugabe, the gathering momentum of Makoni’s campaign is destabilizing the ruling party.