Tension, fear as Masvingo votes

HARARE - Emotions are running high in the politically volatile province of Masvingo, ahead of this weekend’s re-run of regional Zanu PF elections to choose a substantive provincial chairperson — amid claims that the party faction opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is also mobilising furiously to stop the tension-field election.

This comes as supporters of the embattled Generation-40 (G40) faction are also making stunning claims that military and intelligence personnel are allegedly campaigning for former provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira, who is seen as a Mnangagwa ally.

Well-placed party sources told the Daily News yesterday that as a result, beleaguered G40 bigwigs were now working feverishly to try and mobilise their supporters not to participate in Saturday’s election — in a desperate bid to have the crucial plebiscite cancelled.

The faction was said to be operating through an outfit known as "Province 2017", which had been sending messages to Zanu PF supporters in the province via social media, warning them not to vote on Saturday unless the politburo addressed their grievances.

“Josiah Hungwe and Shuvai Mahofa (both alleged to be Mnangagwa allies) are manipulating the structures. They are doing what they want.

"Unless the politburo attends to previously raised grievances, there is no need for people to vote in an election whose outcome is pre-determined,” one of the G40-linked sources told the Daily News.

“We can’t allow Chadzamira to get in under such circumstances. They are pushing for Chadzamira to win at all cost,” he added.

Saturday’s re-run pits previously sacked regional chairperson and alleged Team Lacoste kingpin, Chadzamira, against G40-linked bigwig, Mutero Masanganise.

In the first round, Chadzamira crushed Masanganise — polling 12 393 votes against his opponent's 4 888, amid allegations of rigging and failure by people in Mwenezi and some parts of Chiredzi to vote.

The politburo later nullified the result and ordered a re-run, to allow districts that had not voted a chance to cast their votes.

With Chadzamira seemingly set to win the vote again, this puts party bigwigs in a bind, as he has an uneasy relationship with '’Shake-Shake House’' (Zanu PF headquarters), after he was suspended last year on untested charges of indiscipline, inciting insolence and engaging in violence within the warring ruling party.

The G40 has for some time now been described as being "at sixes and sevens", following the pressure that has been brought to bear on its leading national figures, as well as the suspension of its alleged provincial kingpins, including politburo member Daniel Shumba and Masvingo provincial commissar Jeppy Jaboon — who were both ousted from the regional executive last month.

Shumba, who was said to be the brains behind the Province 2017 project, scoffed at the allegations.

“I have only heard about that group. I hear it’s a WhatsApp group ... it doesn’t mean that it’s another political party,” he said.

Province 2017 was said to be so determined to stop Saturday’s election that it was allegedly spreading "false information" claiming that acting provincial chairperson and Cabinet minister Joram Gumbo was no longer in charge of organising the poll.

Gumbo, while confirming to the Daily News yesterday that he was aware of "the machinations of Province 2017", dismissed the shadowy group as "desperate".

“I know there are some few individuals who are saying negative things about the upcoming Masvingo elections, but they must know that I am not going to vote.

“Kana vasingade kuti ndiite voudza vaMugabe kuti ndivo vava nemasimba ekuisa wavanoda. Ndongonzwa vachipengereka ... ini handina interest nezveMasvingo, handibviko ini. (If they have issues and feel that they have the power, they must tell president Mugabe that they want to appoint a person whom they wish to be in charge of the elections. I don’t come from Masvingo and so I don’t have an interest in the election).

“I also don’t vote ... all we want to do is to make sure that the party is strong in the province. I have nothing to do with Masvingo party structures.

"People must also understand that the papers we use are the same papers which were used to accredit people who attended last year’s national conference.

“We get these papers from (Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere and I am not the one who decides on who is going to vote or not. My job is simply to organise the elections,” Gumbo said.

Sources have also previously told the Daily News that Zanu PF’s ever-fluid factional and succession politics were changing gear again, as there was now an apparent realignment of alliances within the warring former liberation movement — as Mnangagwa’s allies cranked up their assault on the G40.

The G40 faction has been receiving deadly blows in recent weeks, in an unexpected turn of events, which recently saw the women’s league jettisoning its heavyweights, Eunice Sandi Moyo and Sarah Mahoka after nationwide demos against the duo.

Mahoka and Sandi Moyo had been among the group of women's league members who were aggressively pushing for the revival of the debate about the need for a woman to become one of Zanu PF’s two vice presidents.

Their calls for a woman to be elevated to the presidency was seen as directed against Mnangagwa, as the appointment of the other VP, Phelekezela Mphoko, was part of the conditions of the country's unity accord which resulted in the post of the second VP being reserved for senior former Zapu officials.

Meanwhile, Kasukuwere is now fighting for his political future in the warring former liberation movement, after the party’s 10 provinces passed votes of no confidence against him, over a slew of untested allegations which include creating parallel structures and allegedly planning to topple Mugabe.

At the same time, it has also emerged that Matabeleland North province has also put in motion plans to haul over the coals party politburo member and Higher Education minister, Jonathan Moyo.

The two men are alleged to be kingpins of the G40 faction, although they both deny it.

Apart from Moyo and Kasukuwere, Manicaland province recently passed a vote of no confidence in its chairperson Samuel Undenge, while plans are also apparently afoot to depose his wife, Letina, as the provincial chairperson of the women’s league.

Insiders claim that the couple is also part of the G40 faction.

Apart from the couple, Harare Provincial political commissar, Shadreck Mashayamombe, has also come under increasing pressure to leave his post.

Mashayamombe was recently given a stay of execution when Harare province suspended a prohibition order barring him from conducting party business that he had been slapped with by disgruntled party members.

Political analysts have said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF's thorny succession riddle is fuelling the ruling party's deadly infighting, which is worsening by the day.

The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.

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