HARARE - As Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars continue to rage on, President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, has launched a blistering attack on party secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo — openly accusing the Local Government minister of working to undermine Mugabe.
And as has become the trend over the past few months when Zanu PF bigwigs engage in the mindless bloodletting, Zhuwao used the ready platform of lickspittle State media — which have tried but failed to mask the anarchy devouring the From Page 1
ruling party — to savage Chombo yesterday while appearing to be even-handed in Chombo’s current fight with embattled party national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
Zhuwao’s attack on Chombo inadvertently confirmed what the Daily News has reported on extensively over the past two weeks, and which under fire party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo has tried to deny without success — that senior Zanu PF officials, including Mugabe, his influential wife Grace and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, are hopping mad over the open rebellion by the party’s Young Turks.
At the heart of the latest ruckus is the choice of the party’s candidate for the June 10 Harare East by-election, where two of its cadres — Terence Mukupe and Mavis Gumbo — who are said to be proxies of senior officials, are taking each other on in a divisive dog-eat-dog fight that ultimately ended up in court.
Mugabe, Grace and Mnangagwa, apparently using Chombo, are said to be backing Gumbo, while Kasukuwere — touted by the party’s Young Turks or Generation 40 (G40) members as a future Zanu PF leader — has batted in Mukupe’s corner.
Adding grist to the feud is the fact that Zhuwao — like Kasukuwere — has been linked to the group of ambitious party hardliners which is derisively referred to as the “Gang of Four” and which is allegedly battling Mnangagwa and his supporters for supremacy in the party.
Mnangagwa’s supporters allege that the rebellious Gang of Four and G40 members want to oust the VP and Mugabe from power, in addition to complaining that they were not rewarded adequately for masterminding the demise of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies on murky allegations of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe.
It is further claimed that these hardliners are now using Kasukuwere’s position and influence in the party, as well as the ongoing restructuring exercise of the party and the controversial nomination of candidates for the June 10 by-elections, to strategically position themselves and their allies in the party and government in their alleged bid to outwit Mnangagwa and his allies.
It is also widely accepted in the party that this is what has prompted the Mnangagwa camp to move, through the likes of Chombo, to reverse many of Kasukuwere’s decisions — including overturning the results of party primary election which favour the Young Turks.
Writing in his weekly column in the State media yesterday, Zhuwao attacked Chombo for trying to reverse Mukupe’s candidature for the Harare East by-election in favour of Gumbo, when Mukupe had garnered 651 votes against Gumbo’s 369 votes in the party’s primary polls.
“I enjoy a very cordial relationship with Honourable Chombo who has been my mentor and big brother since my entry into active politics 20 years ago. And Honourable Kasukuwere is not just a colleague but also a friend.
“Nonetheless, my relationship with them does not preclude me from being forthright and honest ... my main charge against the Zanu-PF leadership that has precipitated this unfortunate episode in Harare East is simple: you are undermining the president’s popularity. Stop it!” Zhuwao wrote in the rabidly pro-Zanu PF Sunday Mail newspaper.
“It is totally unacceptable that a true leader will refuse to accept defeat in an electoral process one would have voluntarily subscribed to.
“After Tendai Biti was so generous to offer Zanu-PF a chance, not only in Harare but in 20 other constituencies, to increase its parliamentary majority, the Zanu-PF leadership is looking the gift horse in the mouth. What utter rubbish!” he said.
“This behaviour is both base and perfidious. It is incredulous that Zanu-PF will send two candidates to contest one seat. Nonsense!
“Does Zanu-PF not have rules and regulations governing selection of candidates? Who constitutes Zanu-PF — the members or the leadership? What is so special about being an MP that some aspiring candidates refuse to accept defeat in primaries?” Zhuwao thundered further.
In the meantime, another Zanu PF apparatchik and regular contributor to the same newspaper, who uses the bizarre pseudonym of “Bishop Lazarus”, blasted Kasukuwere and reluctant party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday.
The controversial columnist described Khaya Moyo as having “mastered the unfortunate art of embarrassing himself by responding to whatever nonsense that the private media would have spewed”, adding that “someone needs to whisper into Cde Khaya Moyo’s ears that being the party’s spokesperson does not mean speaking without end”.
“Some of Cde Khaya Moyo’s responses are backfiring on him but this poor Bishop would not really care if the words were only eating their owner. What is worrying is that the words are now beginning to eat the party, Zanu-PF and so a bit of some silence from the spokesperson would be welcome,” the columnist added.
On Kasukuwere, he said, “We all agree that ‘Tyson’s’ job was never going to be easy. The young commissar took over that hot seat as Zanu-PF was embarking on an unprecedented cleansing exercise and so the landmines were scattered all over the place”.
“But this poor Bishop has a few words for this dear brother. The Mavis Gumbo and Terence Mukupe fight for Harare East constituency has not been handled well and it’s sending very wrong signals among other party cadres,” he said.