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Lawmakers of Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF Split on Debate on Mujuru Death

ZANU-PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo said the motion calling for debate on the mysterious death of Solomon Mujuru was blocked because of a lack of interest and had nothing to do with factions within his party

Divisions in Zimbabwe's former ruling ZANU-PF became visible in Parliament Wednesday when some of its lawmakers walked out of the House when another group of ZANU-PF legislators introduced a motion proposing a debate on the death of former Defense Forces commander Solomon Mujuru, who died in a suspicious August 16 fire.

Sources said those legislators who walked out in response to the motion by Mwenezi East legislator Kudakwashe Bhasikitiwere were considered to be members of the ZANU-PF faction supporting Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa is considered to be a leading contender to succeed President Robert Mugabe, in rivalry with Vice President Joice Mujuru, General Mujuru's widow.

After the walkout, ZANU-PF lawmaker Paul Mazikana moved to stop debate, telling Acting Speaker Nomalanga Khumalo there was no quorum in the House.

Bells rang but only one ZANU-PF member returned, leading to the motion’s removal from the House order paper. Legislative sources said the motion can only be brought back if all the three political parties represented in the House agree.

Sources said ZANU-PF divisions have deepened amid suspicions by members including Mrs. Mujuru that there was foul play in Solomon Mujuru's death in a fire at his farm near Harare late on August 16. ZANU-PF cohesion has also been damaged by revelations by Wikileaks that many senior officials privately held talks with US diplomats.

Deputy Information Minister Murisi Zwizwai of the Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that the dispute between ZANU-PF members was embarrassing for Parliament – but showed that fissures in the former ruling party are running deep.

But ZANU-PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo said the motion was blocked because of a lack of interest and had nothing to do with factions within his party. He said debate had to be adjourned for lack of a quorum, noting that a number of parliamentarians had left the House to attend meetings on the new constitution at a Harare hotel.