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Zanu PF Expels Top Officials as Factionalism Ravages Zimbabwe's Ruling Party

President Robert Mugabe with his two deputies, Phelekezela Mphoko (L) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (R). Collage by Ntungamili Nkomo

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party on Thursday evening expelled at least seven top party members who have been linked to a faction of the former liberation movement said to be supporting ousted former Vice President Joice Mujuru and several others accused of attempting to topple President Robert Mugabe before the party’s congress last December.

According to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) those who were expelled following a Zanu PF Politburo meeting chaired by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, include Mashonaland East party stalwarts, Ray Kaukonde and Olivia Muchena, Masvingo political gurus, former Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, Kudakwashe Gopo and war veteran Claudius Makova, and David Butau of Mashonaland Central province.

In a report last night, the ZBC indicated that those that have been suspended for between three and five years by the ruling party, which has been in power for more than 35 years, are former senior state and party officials and cabinet ministers - Munacho Mutezo, Nicholas Goche, Flora Buka, Jaison Machaya, Noah Mangondo, Tendai Savanhu, Amos Midzi, Iris Mabuwa and several others.

They are believed to be linked to the dumped Mujuru faction, which is understood to be in the process of forming a party named Zanu PF People First.

Party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo was not reachable for comment last night.

Mrs. Mujuru was expelled from the party together with some then senior Zanu PF leaders that included deposed party spokesman Rugare Gumbo, former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda and several others.

The party alleged that they hatched a plan to oust Mr. Mugabe in the run up to the Zanu PF elective congress, a move that was botched by another faction of the party allegedly led by current Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

They have since dismissed these allegations as a politically-motivated move well-calculated to sideline them in the succession battle of 91 year-old President Mugabe, who has been in power since the country attained independence from British rule in 1980.

Both Mrs. Mujuru and Mnangagwa allegedly habour presidential ambitions though they have dismissed these reports as untrue and misleading.

Factionalism has ravaged the ruling party ahead of the forthcoming parliamentary by-elections with some top officials accusing each other of imposing candidates of their choice on the electorate.

The parliamentary seats fell vacant when the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai recalled members of the rival MDC Renewal Party, who were elected in 2013 general poll under the MDC-T.

The country’s constitution stipulates that a party has a right to recall any lawmaker if one decides to dump it before completing a five-year term of office.