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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Under Pressure to Diffuse Intra-Party Tensions

Shaken by the serious factionalism they say is tearing their party, some senior officials in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF are calling on him to intervene and save the former liberation movement from total collapse.

Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo told VOA the party’s supreme decision-making organ, the politburo will next week try to resolve the infighting that has rocked its district coordinating committees in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Bulawayo, Matebeleland North and South provinces.

But ZANU-PF insiders said the politburo's effort could amount to nothing as it is also deeply divided.

Sources said the party is now plagued by four factions - one led by Vice President Joyce Mujuru and the other by Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Army General Constantine Chiwenga, the sources say, is heading another faction, with Mugabe’s loyalists staying with him.

The Chiwenga group enjoys the backing of the powerful Joint Operations Command, comprising the Central Intelligence Organization, police and army.

Sources say the faction is fielding serving and retired security officers.

The most notable being police spokesman Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka who could not confirm or deny that he wants to contest for a parliamentary seat in Buhera South.

In Nyanga, Manicaland province, activists exchanged blows Thursday over the district coordinating committee election.

Controversial war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, meanwhile, has threatened to beat up ZANU-PF bigwigs whom he accuses of fanning intra-party violence.

Political analyst Joy Mabenge of the Institute For a Democratic Alternative of Zimbabwe told VOA that the unresolved Mugabe succession issue is the root cause of the friction in ZANU-PF.