Harare — HUMAN rights groups are wary of the factionalism afflicting the ZANU (PF) party of President Robert Mugabe sparking strife in Zimbabwe ahead of general elections set for next year. The fears follow chaos and fist fights between members of the party during primary elections in the country's oldest province of Masvingo, south of the country. The turmoil witnessed in recent weeks mirrored the divisions within the party that is divided between Mugabe's wife, Grace, and his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Events in Masvingo urban saw significant intra party violence during the build-up and the process of the election, allegedly perpetrated by Ezra Chadzamira and those loyal to him in a bid to reclaim the chairmanship position in the province. Chadzamira, said to be a faction called "Lacoste", which backs Mnangagwa for the presidency, garnered 12 393 votes against Mutero Masanganise's 4 888 votes amid vote rigging allegations. Fist fights broke out after the announcement of the results The ruling party's highest decision making body, the politburo, has ordered the dissolution of the executive and fresh elections. Ironically, Zanu (PF) is accused of winning polls through violence against the opposition. Rights groups said incidents recorded during the run up to the recent elections point towards unprecedented levels of factionalism that may destabilise Masvingo and eventually the whole country. "The internal contradiction within the ruling party over unresolved succession disputes pose a serious threat to peace in the country," the Zimbabwe Peace Project warned. Mugabe (93), in power since independence in 1980, has not groomed a successor. He has conceded the party is rocked by factionalism, and recently said he will seek re-election as none of the contenders were capable of taking over from him. - CAJ News
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