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Discord Flares as Zimbabwe President Mugabe's ZANU-PF Opens Congress

Though unlikely to produce any big surprises in terms of ZANU-PF's leadership, the quinquennial congress could be important for the former ruling party in charting its course in a radically changed political landscape

The former ruling ZANU-PF party of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday opened a quinquennial congress which, though unlikely to yield any major surprises in terms of its leadership could be important for the party in charting its course in a radically changed political landscape.

After close to three decades in political control following independence in 1980, ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority in the general elections in 2008, while Mr. Mugabe was defeated in the first round of presidential voting by Morgan Tsvangirai, founder of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr. Tsvangirai today is prime minister of Zimbabwe in a government of national unity that divides power between ZANU-PF and two formations of the MDC.

Signaling divisions in ZANU-PF, political sources said Manicaland Provincial Chairman Basil Nyabadza resigned his post over the party politburo’s choice of Ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo, as next party chairman.

If the congress ratifies that choice - as seems likely - Khaya Moyo will take the place of ZANU-PF Chairman John Nkomo, tipped to become vice president of the party and second vice president of the nation under Mr. Mugabe.

Khaya Moyo received the Politburo nod over the leading alternate contender, Didymus Mutasa, despite the latter's strong backing by Nyabadza.

ZANU-PF Women’s League Chairwoman Oppah Muchinguri was passed over for the vice presidency by incumbent Joyce Mujuru.

Political analyst Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare, capital Manicaland province, told Jonga Kanddemiiri that Nyabadza’s resignation is just the tip of the iceberg of ZANU-PF divisions.