HARARE - In a move that could widen fissures in President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF, disgruntled party supporters — including war veterans and agitated youths — plan to demonstrate against the continued harassment of party officials perceived to be close to ousted former vice president Joice Mujuru.
Sources close to the development told the Daily News yesterday that the disaffected party members would also concomitantly petition Mugabe over the ongoing brutal purges of popularly-elected party officials accused of being part of the murky plot to oust and assassinate the nonagenarian.
A clear sign of the growing anger obtaining in some sections of the party, regarding the ruthless purges, was witnessed recently following the purported expulsion from the party of former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa and his voluble nephew Temba Mliswa.
Many aggrieved supporters of the two men have continued to back them, to the extent of urging them to stand as independents in by-elections that are set to be held soon in Headlands and in Hurungwe — much to the consternation of Zanu PF bigwigs.
The party insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said that apart from Mashonaland West and Manicaland, party supporters in Masvingo were also threatening to take to the streets in solidarity with the likes of former Masvingo Provincial minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and others who had been victimised for their perceived sympathy for Mujuru.
“We are the people who voted all these officials into office and we fail to understand why other people from outside our respective constituencies would want to force their decisions down our throats.
“We are going to petition the president over the issue and we also plan to march in the various constituencies to register our displeasure,” fumed a Mashonaland West provincial official.
In an ominous development for Zanu PF — as the country’s 2018 elections beckon — several district officials in Hurungwe openly threatened to back Mliswa’s candidature as an independent last week, if their petition is not considered.
The intriguing turn of events has sent shivers down the spines of party hawks, on whose prompting Mugabe and his wife Grace have effected the brutal purges of senior officials, accusing them of plotting to oust from power and assassinate the nonagenarian.
At a meeting of local party leaders at Karambazuma Secondary School at the weekend, war veterans and other party officials completely dissociated themselves from a petition that had allegedly been written to Zanu PF headquarters in Harare to the effect that Mliswa should be expelled from the party — insisting that the petition was “fake”.
However, the disgruntled supporters also alleged yesterday that regional party hawks were now targeting them for expulsion, amid accusations that they were sabotaging the ruling party.
Virtually all the Zanu PF district officials in Hurungwe West who attended a meeting with Mliswa last Saturday at Karambazuma Secondary School, say they are prime targets of the new local purges.
At the Saturday meeting, also attended by traditional leaders, the
officials and local war veterans vowed to continue supporting Mliswa, notwithstanding his expulsion.
“Provincial and district officials who attended the meeting have been warned that they will meet the same fate as Mliswa if they continue to associate with him,” a provincial executive member speaking on condition of anonymity said.
He added that hardliners in the province were determined to ensure that Mliswa’s bid to stand as an independent was thwarted, as the party wanted to avoid a repeat of the Tsholotsho embarrassment in which it lost to then independent candidate Jonathan Moyo in 2008.
In the disputed 2013 elections, two other candidates Munyaradzi Kereke (Bikita West) and Jonathan Samkange (Mudzi South) defied the party and stood as independent candidates, going on to win convincingly against Zanu PF’s preferred candidates.
But Ziyambi Ziyambi, the Zanu PF acting Mashonaland West chairman, disowned the officials who attended Mliswa’s Saturday meeting yesterday, saying it was doubtful that they were bona fide members of the ruling party, and as such they would therefore not be investigated.
“We only heard that they claimed to be chairpersons but there was nobody with a register there to verify if they were indeed our members.
“If indeed they were there and are defying the party then due process will be followed but as of now we do not know who was there or not,” Ziyambi said.