THE chaos that rocked the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial meeting designed to endorse President Robert Mugabe's candidature for next year's elections exposed underlying divisions in the party ahead of its conference in Gweru next month.
The Masvingo meeting held last week was characterised by acrimonious clashes between partyspokesperson Rugare Gumbo and former Masvingo governor and politburo member, Josaya Hungwe, who are said to support the rival camps of Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, respectively.
According to sources who attended the meeting, Gumbo took a swipe at Hungwe for proclaiming he is the party's new leader in Masvingo following the death of Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge. Mudenge died on October 4.
"The atmosphere was very tense as Gumbo attacked Hungwe for allegedly declaring in the media that he is the new leader of Masvingo after the death of Mudenge. Gumbo said those being labelled as belonging to the Mujuru faction are in the right group because Mujuru is in Mugabe's 'faction'," the source said.
Gumbo advised Masvingo provincial members to revisit the party constitution to verify who is senior in the province between Hungwe and politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire, aligned to the Mujuru faction.
Sources said Hungwe hastily hit back, describing Gumbo as coming from "a clan of losers" who succumbed to the rival MDC-T in previous elections.
In his closing remarks Hungwe reportedly said: "The Gumbos originally come from Gutu where they have been defeated by the MDC since 2000. We thought his visit would bring peace as his name Rugare (peace) suggests, but it appears he has brought further divisions."
Gumbo had also poured scorn on Zanu PF T-shirts sourced by Hungwe for campaigns in Masvingo, saying they were of cheap material. However, Hungwe told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that most senior party officials had failed to source T-shirts.
"I gave them T-shirts so that the Masvingo people may not look orphans who have no one to provide for them," said Hungwe.
The re-admission of former provincial chairperson Daniel Shumba has also stirred more controversy as he would contest against Gift Orma for the party's Masvingo Urban primary elections.
Shumba belongs to the Mnangagwa faction while Orma is from the Mujuru grouping. Gumbo warned those supporting Shumba are going against the party because Shumba formed his own party after being expelled from Zanu PF and contested against Mugabe.