Hundreds of Zanu PF youths allegedly loyal to Vice President Joice Mujuru on Monday started a vigil at the party’s provincial headquarters in Mutare, Manicaland, to fend off a planned bussing of protesters alleged to be in Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa's camp as factionalism worsens in the ruling party.
The Mnangagwa group is alleged to be going around the country protesting against incumbent party chairmen and seeking their removal before the elective Zanu PF congress next month.
In Mutare, the Mnangagwa faction is allegedly targeting ambassador Shumba John Mvundura but the Manicaland youth have vowed to take the visitors head-on as they protect their elected officials.
This follows another failed attempt Sunday.
The visibly angry youths told Studio 7 they are “prepared for anything” if the members of the opposing Mnangagwa faction landed in Mutare.
Vice president Mujuru and Mnangagwa have for years been angling to take over the reins of power from President Mugabe but since the first lady was allegedly unleashed by the Mnangagwa faction, Mrs. Mujuru, who had been the front-runner, has seen party chairmen loyal to her being removed in a well-orchestrated move ahead of the party’s crucial congress.
Police maintained a heavy presence at the government composite building, the main street and at the party’s headquarters in the city, fearing political friction may just get out of hand.
Mvundura and his executive survived an ouster scare Sunday at Marymount Teachers’ College. Violence erupted when warring Zanu PF factions confronted each other.
BUSED PARTY MEMBERS
On Monday, Zanu PF youths say they had received reliable information from party insiders that some bused party members were set to descend on the mountainous border city seeking to oust Mvundura and his entire executive.
Mvundura is said to be linked to the faction loyal to Mrs. Mujuru, and Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa. The Mnangagwa faction hopes their horse will win the race at the congress if they have more chairmen in their camp.
The youths vowed to stand by their Manicaland party provincial leadership “come hail, come sunshine”.
Michael Tembenuka, one of the youths at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters, says he’s sad by the current developments in his party.
Tembenuka said, “They had planned to have another demo in Manicaland with a view to unseat Mvundura because he has refused to be part of their faction. And as youths we are here to protect our leaders and the party from people bent on dividing others for their benefit.”
His twin-brother, Migel, is also vowing to stay put in defense of the Zanu PF leadership in Manicaland. He’s lamenting the tactics being used by the Mnangagwa faction to gain power at the expense of Mrs. Mujuru.
“The way the party is going is not good as factionalism is getting rid of elected individuals. We have people that have been expelled from the party here in Manicaland for no clear reasons, leaving the bad apples in the party,” he said.
Edward Chatora is another youth on guard at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters.
Chatora said, “Today (Monday) there was a planned demo and the people behind it all are those who had been fired before. These people wanted to get rid of Mvundura, and we are aware of youths that are being used in this campaign. We know Mvundura has remained steadfast in stating that he will not join a faction and that’s what we believe in as well.”
Esther Magara added that the youths in Manicaland province are following party protocol in their actions and are endorsing the leadership of President Mugabe but not supporting people she said are using his name to take over from him when he leaves office.
Magara said, “We know the demo was for removing our chair Mvundura and as youths we are saying no to that. He is an elected leader and we are behind him so noone can remove him, and we say Mvundura is not a factional leader, he supports the party leader R.G Mugabe and that is what we support too.”
Another local youth camping at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters, Peter Chawana, said their action is not against their party leader, Mr. Mugabe, but they are sending what he believes is a clear message to those behind the planned and stage-managed demonstrations to dethrone party provincial chairpersons under vote of no confidence motions.
“I can say it has gone well because the people here are not against the president but defending the party protocol that recognizes the leadership in its hierarchy, and we are also in support of the endorsement of Amai (Mrs) Grace Mugabe and the current Zanu PF protocol.”
Ambassador Mvundura was not available for comment.
The youths were expected to disperse at the end of the day and return Tuesday for another vigil to block any moves to remove their chairperson and his executive.