National People's Party (NPP) leader and former Vice President Joice Mujuru has sensationally claimed a political coup over Zanu PF in Mashonaland Central following "defections" G40 apparatchiks.
The ruling party faction is in disarray after it was trounced in Zanu PF's deadly succession fight with key leaders forced into exile where they talk about 2018 resistance but haven't yet explained what form that resistance will take.
In a statement NPP spokesperson Gift Nyandoro said nearly 200 Zanu PF activists associated with a faction that was thought to be pushing for former First Lady Grace's elevation to the ruling party's presidium had jumped ship and joined Mujuru.
"197 G40 top officials have officially broken ranks with Zanu PF by defecting to Dr JTR Mujuru-led NPP today at Mt Darwin in Dotito area of Mashonaland Central," Nyandoro claimed.
"Speaking through their spokesperson at the event graced by senior NPP officials - Mr Gilbert Kanhuta former Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity in Mashonaland Central province - the members said they were happy to reunite with 'Mother Zimbabwe' whom they have since realised that her leadership is the only available answer to Zimbabwe' national crisis of leadership."
Mashonaland Central is Mujuru's home province and has remained a hotbed of Zanu PF politics until now. Opposition parties have found it almost impossible to cut into Zanu PF's stranglehold in the province.
G40 lost Zanu PF's internal struggle for power in November last year after the military staged a coup, paving the way for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to takeover following the forced resignation of former strongman Robert Mugabe.
Most of the faction's members have been at the receiving end of a pointed corruption fight by Mnangagwa that has seen several bigwigs arrested and dragged before the courts for fleecing State coffers.
However, none has yet been convicted with critics arguing that Mnangagwa is on a political witch-hunt of those who were opposed to his rise to power.
Nyandoro added: "His (Kanhuta) sentiments were echoed by Tarisai Nhaka; former district chairman of youth from Matepatepa area of Bindura. NPP president welcomed the new family members and assured them that NPP is a home of choice to every law-abiding citizen."
The NPP, Nyandoro claimed, would soon be unveiling more Zanu PF members defecting to its ranks in the same province.
There have been unconfirmed reports of leading G40 figures like former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and his ex-Public Service counterpart Patrick Zhuwao working on a plan to join hands with opposition forces to face off with Mnangagwa in elections expected in a few months' time.