Intense jostling for top Zanu PF posts

HARARE - Jostling for posts has reached fever pitch ahead of Zanu PF’s extraordinary congress next week with the resurgent liberation war fighters going all out to reclaim positions that had fallen to former president Robert Mugabe’s allies.

Having turned the tables on their rivals with the help of the military, which stepped in last month to save the ex-combatants from total annihilation by the Generation 40 (G40) faction, the war veterans are taking no prisoners and giving no quarter in their bid to tightly control Zanu PF.

ZANU PF supporters

ZANU PF supporters

They had been banished to being spectators in the internal affairs of Zanu PF after G40 took all the critical positions in the party, with the help of Grace Mugabe, the then first lady.

Until the military’s intervention last month, G40 had vanquished the rival Team Lacoste faction, which was campaigning for Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe.

Following Mnangagwa’s inauguration last month as the country’s second executive president since independence, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (Znlwva) is not negotiating on its demands for total control of all the influential positions in Zanu PF.

They feel that with Mnangagwa at the top, they want to avoid “mistakes of the past” by selecting office holders with impeccable liberation war credentials “to safeguard the revolution”.

Fierce jostling for the positions has thus emerged among them with Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantino Chiwenga tipped to become one of the two vice presidents.

The party’s constitution entitles Mnangagwa to appoint his deputies, the national chairperson, heads of the politburo (and their deputies), and members of the central committee.

In terms of the Unity Accord, the other VP post should go to a former Zapu cadre, with Kembo Mohadi, Tshinga Dube and Jacob Mudenda touted for the position.

The party is also contemplating appointing a national chairperson, a position which is currently vacant.

The other key positions targeted by the war veterans include that of secretary for administration (previously occupied by Ignatius Chombo); secretary for the commissariat (previously under Saviour Kasukuwere); secretary for women’s affairs (headed previously by Grace) and secretary for youth affairs (held in the interim by Pupurai Togarepi).

Mnangagwa’s right hand man, July Moyo, who used to deputise Chombo is tipped to take over as his replacement.

Sources close to the goings-on in Zanu PF said Znlwva wants its secretary-general Victor Matemadanda and Monica Mutsvangwa to replace Grace and Kasukuwere on a substantive basis.

Matemadanda, however, told the Daily News this week that the congress was mainly to confirm Mnangagwa as the Zanu PF first secretary and its presidential candidate in next year’s elections.

“The congress has one agenda to confirm the president because all other positions will be filled by appointment while other wings such as the youth and women’s leagues will simply co-opt replacements. The youth league has since confirmed that Togarepi is the new youth league secretary because we agreed that his dismissal was not procedural,” Matemadanda said.

Mutsvangwa, a war veteran, is currently the acting women’s league boss after the party expelled Grace and recalled her husband from government.

The development flies in the face of the party’s central committee resolutions that “we should propose an amendment to our constitution to remove any notion of one centre of power” at the extraordinary congress.

Znlwva spokesperson Douglas Mahiya told the Daily News recently that former freedom fighters were particularly keen on the commissar’s post.

“We have not changed our position and we are not going to change. We have said we want that key position to be held by someone with impeccable liberation war credentials because it is only such a person who has capacity to fully comprehend the demands of the job in line with the Zanu PF revolutionary ethos,” Mahiya said.

Either Justice Mayor Wadyajena or Lewis Mathuthu could be elected as Togarepi’s deputy.

Togarepi told the Daily News that the duo would get an equal chance at congress saying party youths had since made their recommendations to the Zanu PF top leadership on their preferred choices.

“Wadyajena and Mathuthu like any other youths will be given an equal opportunity to contest for positions. In fact we have since made our recommendations which I am not at liberty to reveal now because we will be guided by the leadership,” Togarepi said yesterday. 

Togarepi and Mathuthu were sacked last year as secretary for youth affairs and youth secretary for administration respectively for their links to the Mnangagwa camp in the battle to succeed Mugabe.

Togarepi was replaced by Kudzanai Chipanga who was his deputy while Mathuthu’s position was given to Xavier Kazizi.

Chipanga fell from grace following the collapse of the G40 project along with some members of his executive  Anastancia  Ndhlovu, Mpehlabayo Malinga (deputy youth secretary), Kazizi, Tongai Kasukuwere  secretary for finance) and Innocent Hamandishe (political commissar)

To complete their whitewash of the G40 faction, the war veterans also want to take control of the secretary for science and technology post, previously held by Jonathan Moyo.

Sydney Sekeramayi may also be pushed out as secretary for war veterans, detainees, restrictees and their welfare with Christopher Mutsvangwa, who was his deputy before his dismissal from Zanu PF last year, likely to bounce back to head the portfolio.

Togarepi said youths had no problem with war veterans getting a lion’s share of the strategic posts in the ruling party.

“Not only war veterans but also all freedom fighters including ex-detainees ad restrictess and other war collaborators should take up senior and strategic positions.

“As the youths we have no problem with that because they will mentor us on the party ethos so that we will be fully equipped to take over leadership when the time comes so we are fully behind the demands by war veterans,” Togarepi who leads an association of war collaborators in the country.

There are also vacancies among politburo committee members following the death of Shuvai Mahofa and George Rutanhire last year, which might also fall to the ex-combatants.

Other vacancies exist at the deputy secretary level where perceived G40 functionaries, among them Charles Tavengwa (deputy secretary for finance); Daniel Shumba (deputy secretary for transport and social welfare); Absolom Sikhosana (deputy secretary for implementation and economic empowerment); Douglas Mombeshora (deputy secretary for health) and Patrick Zhuwao (deputy secretary for science and technology) are likely to lose their positions.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not be drawn into confirming the developments saying “let us wait for congress to ratify all the recommendations that have been made by congress.”

It also remains to be seen if the party will stick to the one-centre-of-power principle adopted in 2014 to concentrate all the influence in Mugabe in the wake of concerns that his deputy then, Joice Mujuru, was becoming too powerful.

At its central committee meeting last month, it was recommended that the one-centre-of-power principle be done away with.

Khaya Moyo said the central committee was not congress so it can only make recommendations.

“All the central committee does is to recommend and then congress looks at the recommendations with a view to either ratify or discard (them),” he said.

Another contentious issue to be considered is the possibility of reviving the women’s quota, which was brought up at the party 2015 conference in Victoria Falls.

The quota system was introduced in 2004 to enable the rise of  former vice president Joice Mujuru only to be discarded in 2014 when she was fired from Zanu PF.