Commotion at Zanu PF offices

HARARE - A deadly cocktail of factionalism, disgruntlement over loss of lucrative termini business and the cruel demolition of houses in Epworth is threatening to rip apart President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

Party supporters yesterday staged a demonstration at the provincial headquarters in Harare along Fourth Street, prompting the party to call in anti-riot police to deal with the mutinous supporters.

Baton-wielding police in full riot gear descended on the Zanu PF provincial headquarters in anticipation of mayhem, and barricaded the provincial head office.

Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF secretary for administration and minister of State in President Mugabe’s office, told the Daily News that demonstrators were “mad”.

“They are mad people, how can they demonstrate against nothing? In fact they are offending us and we are going to deal with them," said Mutasa.

Insiders said the move by police to set camp at Zanu PF’s backyard was prompted by violent scenes that erupted at the provincial headquarters on Tuesday when supporters of Harare province chairperson Amos Midzi’s bitter rival Hubert Nyanhongo descended on the premises demanding that party leaders explain why houses were demolished in Epworth.

Zanu PF demonstrators were also baying for Midzi’s head, accusing the provincial chairperson of abandoning them.

Over 200 families have been left homeless after police, acting on the instructions of a State-controlled company Sunway City razed homes to the ground in the dirt-poor suburb of Epworth on the outskirts of Harare.

The demolitions happened at the peak of rains, worsening their plight even, and now Zanu PF supporters want Midzi sacked, sources said.

Angry party supporters slammed Midzi, accusing him of betraying them and failing to protect them.

Zanu PF Harare province spokesman Claudius Mutero disowned the demonstrators.

“I have heard that some people are demonstrating at our headquarters. These are people who are not in the structures who include war veterans and mahwindis (touts),” Mutero told the Daily News.

“These people are causing problems. The issue is that these people want to go back to bus ranks but that situation was not lawful and that is why the police have stepped in. We do agree that some of the rank marshals were our members but not all of them.”

Mutero however, distanced his party from the demolition of homes in Epworth.

He denied that the latest fracas was a result of the festering succession crisis in Zanu PF.

Mugabe’s party is rocked by factionalism at national level and observers say the latest standoff between bitter rivals Nyanhongo and incumbent Harare chairperson Midzi mirrors the larger picture.

Currently in Zanu PF, no one has mustered enough courage to stand up against Mugabe (88), but camps have emerged looking beyond Mugabe, with Vice President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emerson Mnangagwa heading the biggest factions cascading to district levels.

Apart from the factionalism which Mugabe admits is a cancer gnawing at his party’s core, Zanu PF youths are also disgruntled with failure by its leadership to provide much-needed jobs. Zimbabwe is currently reeling from unemployment rates of over 80 percent.

Mugabe recently admitted that youth unemployment poses a serious threat to the country’s peace and stability.

Under the banner of black empowerment, Zanu PF youths have been milking 16-seater minibuses at rank termini before the police, with assistance from the military, stepped in and pushed them out.

However, the loss of the profitable bus termini business has heightened tensions, with the youths popularly known as mandimbandimba, fuming over the move by Zanu PF to “abandon them”.

However, the silver lining is that sanity has returned to bus ranks in the city after Harare city council, which was in the past been cowed by Zanu PF bouncers, engaged police who are now in charge of rank termini in Harare’s busy central business district.

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