Former Midlands governor and ruling Zanu-PF Politiburo member, Mr. Cephas Msipa, says President Robert Mugabe must address allegations leveled against Vice President Joyce Mujuru by those calling for her ouster including First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Mrs. Mugabe has been on a provincial campaign openly attacking Mrs. Mujuru accusing her of corruption and causing divisions in the party. She urged Mr. Mugabe to “baby dump her."
Msipa, seen by some in the party as a straight talker and voice of reason, told VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe in an exclusive interview that remarks at rallies by the first lady that Mr. Mugabe has lost confidence in Mrs. Mujuru are for now just rumors.
"We go by official reports, the president has to tell us he has the intention to remove the vice president."
Msipa said Mr. Mugabe has the opportunity to address the issue officially this week when his party's Politiburo meets to discuss the growing factionalism in the party.
Tensions are rising in Zanu-PF as warring factions are plotting their strategies ahead of the crucial Politburo meeting. Msipa admitted that the party was in turmoil, saying, "We are going through a bad patch, a dark cloud is hanging over our heads."
Mrs. Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mngangagwa are said to be leading the factions fighting to succeed 90-year-old President Mugabe, who has been in power since independence from British rule in 1980.
But the two have steadfastly denied that they are leading factions.
Zanu-PF sources told VOA Studio 7 that the Mnangagwa camp is now pushing for Mrs. Mugabe or outgoing Women’s League boss, Oppah Muchinguri, to challenge Mrs. Mujuru for the vice president’s post at the party’s December elective congress.
Party insiders say with Mrs. Mujuru enjoying the support of most of the provinces, there is a strategy to suspend some of her main backers ahead of the congress or pressure her to step down before then.
The Mujuru camp though is said to be pushing back, burning the midnight oil and moving to consolidate its base in preparation for a showdown at the Politburo meeting and the party congress.
The Mnangagwa group is said to have been energized by the entrance of the first lady into politics.
The first lady was nominated as head of the women’s wing of the party and is waiting endorsement by the party’s Politburo and the congress. But she has hit the ground running, courting church leaders, traditional chiefs and youths to widen her base.
Msipa said the party is facing a crisis.
But a young turk in the party, Gokwe Nembudziya lawmaker Justice Mayor Wadyajena said to be advocating for the elevation of the first lady to the position of vice president, noted that anyone can be challenged as per the party’s constitution.
Zanu-PF factions, individuals and interest groups within the party have started positioning themselves for the December elective congress amid indications that the battle for Central Committee positions will turn nasty.