Lacoste pushes for fresh provincial polls

HARARE - Zanu PF has embarked on a restructuring exercise to prepare for next year’s elections amid reports that party factions battling to influence President Robert Mugabe’s succession are readying themselves for a bruising fight.

The term of office for the ruling party’s lower leadership — the cell and the branch — expires at the end of each year while that of the district and provincial leaders end after three and five years, respectively.

Zanu PF is seriously divided, with the camp which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, the G40 faction, involved in a life-and-death tussle with the VP’s backers, Team Lacoste.

Party insiders told the Daily News that while the ongoing exercise is meant to realign the lower structures of the party, Mnangagwa’s backers — buoyed by their recent success in Masvingo where Ezra Chadzamira was elected chairperson — were pushing for the exercise to also include provincial executives manned by co-opted officials in almost all provinces in their bid to “finish off” their rivals.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo confirmed the party is currently restructuring but would not say if the exercise also includes provincial executives.

He referred questions to Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere who was said to be in a meeting while his deputy, Omega Hungwe said he was the appropriate person to comment.

But sources close to Team Lacoste told the Daily News yesterday that the VP’s allies wanted to take advantage of the pressure that Kasukuwere is facing right now amid accusations of seeking to topple Mugabe.

“It is an agreed fact in the party that it will be foolhardy for anyone to think that we can do well against the opposition next year when we have party structures that were built on factional lines by Kasukuwere as he went around the country removing elected officials and co-opting his friends into provincial executives.

“So, this exercise (restructuring) could be used to makes sure that anomaly is corrected before elections,” a Mashonaland West provincial executive member said on condition of anonymity.

About seven out of 10 Zanu PF provincial executives countrywide, including the Samuel Undenge-chaired Manicaland executive, Mashonaland West led by Ephraim Chengeta, Mashonaland Central (Dickson Mafios), Mashonaland East (Bernard Makokove) and Midlands led by Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, among others are not substantive.

Chengeta and Mafios came in to replace Temba Mliswa and Luke Mushore respectively after they were expelled on allegations of supporting former vice president Joice Mujuru in 2014.

Makokove, on the other hand, replaced Joel Biggie Matiza — an alleged Mnangagwa ally — who was suspended for allegedly fanning factionalism.

Mackenzie Ncube was elevated from being deputy chairperson following the death of Kizito Chivamba.

Mashonaland Central deputy chairperson Kazembe Kazembe said his province was almost done with restructuring cells and branches.

“But I am not sure whether it’s going to include provincial structures, maybe you could check with the provincial commissar,” said Kazembe.

When the programme started at the beginning of the year, the G40 camp had allegedly made plans to ensure that  junior party officials loyal to Mnangagwa are purged before the Zanu PF primary elections to prevent MPs backing the Midlands godfather’s presidential ambitions from returning to Parliament.

These structures constitute the majority of the people who form the party’s Electoral College during primary elections to choose parliamentary and council candidates ahead of a general election.

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