One of Zimbabwe’s top political commentators and former Zanu PF cadre, Ibbo Mandaza, says Vice President Joice Mujuru has been effectively sidelined by a ruling party clique allegedly led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in a bitter fight for the control of the party ahead of its congress early next month.
Mandaza told VOA Studio 7 that it is now pointless for the Mnangagwa faction to continue dismantling party structures said be leaning towards the vice president, saying she appears to be down and out.
He said this group is now preparing to make crucial constitutional changes ahead of the congress that will seal their victory against Mrs. Mujuru, which will give the party’s president and first secretary powers to appoint members of the presidium.
Mandaza, who is also a publisher with the Southern African Political and Economic Series (SAPES), said the party’s Politburo this weekend will make crucial decisions that will effectively dump Mrs. Mujuru and her allies.
He said allegations made against the vice president by the faction said to be led by Mnangagwa that she is corrupt, incompetent and attempting to topple the president, are an indication that President Mugabe is not willing to have a successor.
Some party cadres, who include former Bulawayo deputy mayor David Ndlovu, Minister of State for Psychomotor Activities Josiah Hungwe, and several other senior party officials have claimed that the president has a right to choose his own deputies instead of them going through an election process at the party’s congress.
Meanwhile, public protests gripped Masvingo on Tuesday and early Wednesday morning with some Zanu PF supporters and war veterans giving party provincial stalwarts Dzikamai Mavhaire and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti 72 hours to step down for backing Vice President Joice Mujuru’s alleged attempts to topple President Robert Mugabe.
There were similar protests in Mashonaland Central where some top party executives were removed from office for allegedly backing Mrs. Mujuru.
According to state-controlled newspapers and eyewitnesses, the protesters who were chanting anti-Mujuru slogans, claimed that top Zanu PF officials, some of whom are Politburo members, were part of the scheme to destabilize the ruling party through fanning factionalism.
The reports say some party members clashed in the Masvingo’s central business district resulting in the intervention of the police. There was no official comment from the police though indications were that the protests, which started Tuesday and ended early Wednesday at Bhasikiti’s government offices, have so far fizzled out.
Zanu PF supporters allegedly supporting a faction of the party said to be led by Mnangagwa are dumping individuals and provincial executives linked to Mrs. Mujuru ahead of the party’s congress in December.
At least nine provincial chairpersons have so far been removed countrywide as the party prepares for a crucial Politburo meeting this Saturday to look into what is happening in the party.
Some Zimbabweans living outside the country and foreigners say they are scared about the goings-on in Zanu PF.
South African Bishop Paul Verryn of the Johannesburg Methodist Church said the party conflict is unsettling a lot of people.
Independent political analyst George Mkhwananzi echoed his sentiments, adding that Zanu PF factionalism may be the right direction towards the democratization of the country, which has been ruled by President Mugabe’s party since independence in 1980.