BATTLE lines have been drawn as Zanu PF starts preparation for the restructuring of provinces and districts ahead of this year's party national people's conference to be held in Chinhoyi, it has emerged.
The development comes at a time when Parliament has also become a battleground for the faction loyal to Vice-President Joice Mujuru and another linked to Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Sources said factions in the party were positioning their members to occupy influential positions which will place them at an advantage when the time comes for the election of national chairman and the two vice presidents at next year's elective congress.
"It's dog eat dog as we prepare for the elections," said a Zanu PF politburo member. "There is so much at stake because the new provincial and district leaders who are coming in before this year's people's conference will be the ones to eventually decide President Robert Mugabe's successor when the time comes."
He said another faction, which claims to be only loyal to Mugabe and not aligned either the Mujuru or Mnangagwa factions, was pushing for the Zanu PF constitution to be amended to make it mandatory for all positions in the party to be contested.
"They are saying all positions from the VP downwards must be contested. Unless Mugabe comes to the rescue of some of these leaders, we are going to see them being challenged including Mujuru and Simon Khaya Moyo (national chairman)," said the party official.
Another senior Zanu PF official said a number of provincial chairpersons were being targeted for removal as Mugabe's succession battle intensifies.
He said in Mashonaland west, where the conference will be held in December, fights have already emerged over the construction of a proposed US$10 million conference centre.
The official said Local government minister, Ignatious Chombo who is considered a Mugabe loyalist and was supposed to spearhead the project by virtue of his portfolio in government was allegedly being side-lined. He said flamboyant businessman, Phillip Chiyangwa was being touted as the new provincial chairman to replace John Mafa, considered a Mnangagwa sympathiser.
Mafa lost the Chegutu West primary elections to national commissar, Webster Shamu who is believed to be loyal to Mujuru.
The official Masvingo provincial chairperson, Lovemore Matuke was also a target for removal by one of the factions in the party.
He said after failing to remove him during a restructuring exercise early this year, the issue of fired Bikita West legislator, Munyaradzi Kereke has now provided an opportunity to revisit his case.
Matuke and another provincial executive, Edmund Mhere signed nomination papers for Kereke resulting in Zanu PF fielding two candidates, the fired legislator and Elias Musakwa.
But the official said efforts to discipline Matuke and Mhere were being engineered by one faction in Zanu PF eager to expose securocrats who supported Kereke's candidature.
"By hauling Matuke before a disciplinary hearing they want him to reveal the securocrats who made him endorse Kereke's candidate," said the official. "This process is meant to prove that security chiefs are interfering in Zanu PF' internal politics. They want to justify security sector reforms through the back door and the urgent replacement of the current securocrats considered too loyal to Mugabe."
The official said the fight has also spilled to Parliament where the Zanu PF factions were battling to control key portfolio committees.
He said the Mujuru faction has realised that Mnangagwa as Justice Minister and leader of the house and government business in Parliament was now too powerful and could use his position to spring a surprise in the battle to succeed Mugabe.
"There are fears that Mnangagwa will put in place laws that will make it difficult for Mujuru to easily take over from Mugabe. Mnangagwa wants to ensure that Mugabe finishes his term office so that he fights again after regaining lost ground," said the official.
He said the internal fights have spilled over to the land where factions were accusing each other of evicting farmers, particularly war veterans for the benefit of some former white commercial farmers.
"Service chiefs are not happy that people who have been on the farms for 10 years are being told to move without alternative land being given to them. The Attorney General's office has written letters stating that such moves are illegal, but they have been ignored," said the official.