12 January 2014

Zimbabwe: War Over Zanu-PF Congress Escalates

ZANU PF factions, individuals and interest groups within the party have started positioning themselves for the December elective congress amid indications that the battle for Central Committee positions will turn nasty.

Sources said it will be dog-eat-dog in the party as preparations for the congress begin, with the Central Committee expected to become the new battle ground as the war to succeed 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe intensifies new battle ground as the war to succeed 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe intensifies.

An official close to the party said the recently elected provincial executives will be key in determining those who will make it to the central committee.

He said some bigwigs in cabinet and the Zanu PF politburo were likely to fall by the wayside in the central committee elections as provincial executives were plotting their downfall.

"There will be gnashing of teeth because big names are being targeted. We are also going to see the creation of new fiefdoms and the emergence of new leaders in the provinces," said the official.

He said groups and individuals in the party were now busy fundraising in order to prepare for this year's congress and central committee elections.

The official said some in Cabinet also faced threats of arrests on allegations of corruption, which could effectively rule them out for top positions in the party.

"There is a lot of cleansing which is going to take place and some will fall because of these allegations," he said. There were also reports that factions in the party were undermining each other in government. Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa was said to be facing hurdles in securing funding for the economy due to these problems.

A Politburo member said there was now mistrust within the different factions as some members were not clear on their positions.

He said national secretary for administration secretary, Didymus Mutasa who is thought to be linked to vice-president Joice Mujuru's faction, last year issued conflicting statements on the succession issue.

The official said while Mutasa appeared to support Mujuru's ascendency to the Presidency, he also suggested that Mugabe could again be Zanu PF's candidate in the 2018 elections.

"There are now jitters in the faction as Mutasa is not clear on his position. What is however clear is that Mutasa is fighting for the interests of Manicaland and it cannot be ruled out that he is also eyeing the presidency on behalf of his province," he said.

The official said many members were going to change factions as the year progresses.

He said while Mujuru and justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa appeared to be the leading contenders to succeed Mugabe, Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi was also being considered by some people in the party.

"Although he is considered a Mujuru ally, he is seen as a neutral candidate and members of the security forces support him," said the official.

He said there was a section in the party which wanted the Zanu PF constitution to be amended so that all positions, including those in the politburo can be contested.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo yesterday said the December congress would determine who goes into the central committee. He said while provinces would do the selection process and make the necessary recommendations; the Presidium would vet the candidates before they were endorsed by congress.

On the issue of factionalism, Gumbo said the next politburo meeting would decide on the course of action to take during the year. Last year, Zanu PF fights turned nasty with different factions fighting for provincial executive positions. The polls were marred by allegations of vote rigging.

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