31 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Flies Into Eye of Storm

President Robert Mugabe flies back into the country today to confront rising discord in his Zanu PF party when he meets youths from rival factions at the airport.

While he was away, a group of youths aligned to a faction that was defeated at the just-ended youth congress continued to pile pressure for the censure of politburo members who allegedly orchestrated their defeat.

The two factions are allegedly led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Joice Mujuru who are both linked to succession battles that threaten to tear Zanu PF apart. The two have consistently denied leading factions or harbouring presidential ambitions.

Youths from the Mnangagwa faction were routed in the elections by those from the Mujuru group who grabbed the league's two most powerful posts contested.

The disgruntled losers have since taken the fight to a higher level with youth leaders from that faction publicly pointing accusing fingers at senior party officials, something normally unheard of in Zanu PF.

They are the same group, led by Harare provincial youth chairperson Godwin Gomwe, that has been mobilising to meet Mugabe right at the airport when he lands today, to plead with him to censure their perceived enemies.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said while the youths had the right to meet with Mugabe, the ruling party had procedures which had to be adhered to.

"We don't understand their agenda except that they want to tarnish the image of the party by convening a meeting at the airport," Gumbo said.

"The party has rules and regulations governing behaviours. The party will soon meet to deal with the actions of the youths."

It could not be established yesterday if Gomwe, a mere provincial youth official had been sanctioned to speak on behalf of the National Youth League and to seek a meeting with Mugabe.

Zanu PF national secretary for youths, Absalom Sikhosana and his deputy, Kudzai Chipanga could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Gomwe on Friday publicly attacked Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa, politburo member Tendai Savanhu, central committee member Noah Mangondo and Harare provincial chairman Amos Midzi for allegedly bribing youths to vote for particular persons during the youth conference.

When the accusations were first made, Mugabe asked the accusers to bring to him evidence of their claims but none was availed, according to reports.

Gomwe was quoted in the media yesterday saying the youth were seeking to brief him on developments in the party since his week-long absence while on a trip to China.

The President is normally briefed on the happenings in the party and country by the Acting President Mujuru.

If granted, the meeting will be the second that Mugabe has had with the youths hardly three weeks after the youth conference, where Chipanga prevailed over Tongai Kasukuwere in elections for the coveted deputy secretary for youth position.

Chipanga is said to belong to the Mujuru faction while Kasukuwere is believed to be a member of a rival faction linked to Mnangagwa.

Mugabe during the first meeting with the youths said the congress results would not be reversed. However, the faction linked to Mnangagwa appears ready to try again to force Mugabe to act.

"The plan is to have Mugabe act against those accused and this will give the Mnangagwa faction an upper hand going into the congress," an insider said.

Meanwhile, as the factional fights rage on, youths in Mashonaland West yesterday passed a vote of no confidence on their provincial chairperson, Vengai Musengi and his deputy Joseph Nyariri, accusing them of peddling falsehoods to President Robert Mugabe.

The two, who are said to be aligned to the Mnangagwa faction, were replaced by Dominic Muza, as chairperson, deputised by Marlvin Kanhamu.

Musengi described his ouster as unconstitutional.

"I have no comment on issues done outside the party constitution. Besides, ghost members were allowed to attend the meeting," Musengi told The Standard.

But in resolutions passed after a six-hour meeting, the Mashonaland West provincial youth executive said it would report Musengi to the police for allegedly defrauding Pickstone Small Scale Miners.

"The case in reference is where Cde. Musengi is alleged to have fraudulently collected 10-30% of the total gold mined at Pickstone Mine, money and mining claims at regular intervals on the pretext that it was being submitted to the heads of ZRP and Zanu PF when in fact he is alleged to have converted the above to his own use," provincial spokesperson Menard Waneke said.

He said Musengi lied to Mugabe in a damning report regarding the province's endorsing of First Lady, Grace Mugabe as the Secretary for Women's Affairs to hide his "misdemeanours."

Waneke said the province resolved that it would not support indiscipline within the Youth League ranks and would ensure that miscreants with a propensity for causing disruption, using the names of the First Lady and any other senior Zanu PF members, were dealt with.

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