1 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Nocturnal Meetings As Zanu-PF Power Tussle Hots Up

Senior officials within the fractious ZANU PF are so desperate to keep their party positions that some are approaching Mugabe clandestinely to solicit for support.

The State-run Herald newspaper said Mugabe made the disclosure at Wednesday's politburo meeting, with members accusing some of their colleagues of holding nocturnal meetings and vote-buying ahead of the party's December congress.

Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed that they had discussed the secret meetings. "It was apparent that there are some who hold clandestine meetings, seeking positions in the party largely because we are going to congress."

Vote-buying is one of ZANU PF's oldest tricks during national election campaigns, but this has generally been limited to political contests with the opposition.

The power struggle between the two known factions in the party is now in the open with members aligned to faction leaders Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa openly siding with their preferred leader.

Recently, the Mujuru faction thought it had the party leadership in the bag when it changed the rules on who qualifies to be in the politburo, a move which eliminated many of her rival Mnangagwa's loyalists.

But Grace Mugabe's entrance into politics last weekend turned the tables against Mujuru, and introduced yet another force into the already messy succession tussle.

Temba Mliswa allegedly engineered Grace's entry into politics, although it remains unclear under whose instructions, the Financial Gazette said Thursday.

A way is also being paved for Mugabe's personal banker, Gideon Gono, to join mainstream politics via a Senate seat, a move that will ease him into politics and enable him to continue to protect the Mugabes' business portfolio, even after the president is gone.

UK-based former diplomat Clifford Mashiri said that senior officials are not sleeping as they seek to secure their now-shaky positions and it shows that the party is geared "for serious turbulence" come December.

"The party is obviously crumbling and this is the first time that the infighting is happening openly for all to see and the party cannot even deny it now. You can sense the tensions in the statements being issued by party officials.

"I wouldn't be surprised if on the nights that these officials are meeting or bugging Mugabe, they will be visiting traditional healers in a bid to cling on to power.

"But just like they couldn't get diesel out of a rock, as had been promised by the Chinhoyi spirit medium Rotina Mavhunga, their demise is inevitable. If their failure does not bring them down, they will do it to themselves through their infighting," Clifford added.

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