President Robert Mugabe is expected to return to Harare on Sunday from his five-day visit to China and head straight into a political storm caused by growing factionalism in his ruling Zanu-PF party.
The wrangling is getting worse as factions battle to succeed the 90-year old president.
A gag order issued by party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo has caused further friction in the party as people jostle for positions ahead of the party’s December elective congress.
A faction allegedly led by Justice Minister Emerson Mnangagwa is defying the directive and some of its sympathizers headed by Zanu-PF Harare provincial Youth League chairman, Godwin Gomwe, has vowed to petition Mr. Mugabe on Sunday to censure Khaya Moyo, who is also allegedly aligned to a rival faction led by Vice President Joyce Mujuru.
Khaya-Moyo issued the gag barring provincial party bosses from speaking publicly about factional issues in the party. He also said they should not abuse First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name in their factional fights for “cheap political gains.”
Mujuru and Mnangagwa have both denied that they lead factions.
The party’s women’s and youth leagues have endorsed the first lady to become the Women’s League boss replacing incumbent Oppah Muchinguri.
Insiders say the Mnangagwa faction has launched a media propaganda to paint the Mujuru camp as being against the rise of Mrs. Mugabe.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, said to be linked to the Mnangagwa camp, is accused of using his influence at state newspapers, in particular The Herald, to attack his rivals.
The Mujuru camp wants Mr. Mugabe to rein in Moyo. Both camps are also pushing for the expulsion of rivals ahead of the congress.
Zanu-PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, says those questioning Khaya Moyo’s directives are ill-informed and the party will take action against them and The Herald.