HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s loyalist Didymus Mutasa is walking with a spring after outsmarting a wing within Zanu PF linked to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa at the weekend.
Mutasa successfully pushed for the dissolution of the Zanu PF Manicaland provincial executive, which Mutasa floors Mnangagwa was packed with Mnangagwa loyalists.
Ousted chairperson, Mike Madiro was part of the infamous Tsholotsho coup plot in 2004.
Officials have been tight-lipped about the closed door Manicaland meeting which lasted 14 hours.
But sources said a resolution was adopted to dissolve the entire provincial executive, giving Mutasa a chance to influence the appointment of an interim committee packed with Mugabe and his own loyalists.
Apart from dismantling the provincial executive, Mutasa is plotting the downfall of Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who was a key figure in the 2004 Tsholotsho coup plot, the Daily News can reveal.
With elections around the corner and factionalism rearing its head, Mutasa is emerging as a stumbling block to the factions, some which already doubt Mugabe’s capacity to win elections at 89, insiders say.
There have been reports that there is a group of power hungry Zanu PF politburo members, who are plotting Mugabe’s ouster even before elections arguing that at 89, it will be difficult to sell him as a Zanu PF candidate.
Warring factions within Zanu PF are engaged in a fierce battle to succeed Mugabe, with Mnangagwa and Vice President Joice Mujuru reportedly leading the two largest factions.
Like Tsholotsho in 2004, Manicaland has of late become the epicentre of the factionalism affecting Zanu PF.
This forced Mugabe, who badly needs the factions to rally behind his candidature, to appoint a special probe team headed by party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, which convened the weekend meeting.
Moyo yesterday refused to divulge details of the meeting or the factional fighting.
“I don’t think it is worth talking to you,” he said, before hanging up.
Sources said Mutasa appeared to be losing the war going into the meeting after party heavyweights such as Chinamasa, politburo women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri and ousted provincial chairman Madiro appeared to have successfully plotted a revenge mission.
The camp had been angered by the way Madiro was suspended after being accused of looting close to $1 million donated to the party by diamond companies. Madiro was also recently in court accused of stealing beasts donated for Mugabe’s birthday bash held at Sakubva Stadium last year.
According to reports, the camp met at Muchinguri’s house in Mutare and drafted a petition for Mugabe’s attention lambasting Mutasa, resulting in the Khaya Moyo-led probe.
“He (Mutasa) turned the tables at the meeting. You see, he is fashioning himself as Mugabe’s defender against the factions,” said a source.
Madiro and Chinamasa were both part of the infamous Tsholotsho declaration which in 2004 sought to manoeuvre Mnangagwa to the vice presidency post ahead of Mugabe’s preferred candidate Mujuru.
Even though Mugabe punished people who were involved in the Tsholotsho declaration, including serial political flip-flopper, Jonathan Moyo, the ghost is back to haunt his party ahead of a crucial poll which may be held in less than two months.
Zanu PF’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday dismissed talk of factionalism.
“I only know of one team led by Khaya Moyo that went to Manicaland investigating challenges in that province. There is no issue of factionalism in the party,” said Gumbo.
But sources say the Manicaland debacle is the latest kick in the teeth for the Mnangagwa faction, which suffered a massive setback when the party decided to dissolve grassroots structures widely known as district coordinating committees which were loyal to the Defence minister.
As the secretary for administration, Mutasa is a powerful figure in Zanu PF and has often used his weight to get his way.
Apart from thwarting the interests of the Tsholotsho cabal, Mutasa is also seeking to check Chinamasa’s bid to fight for the Makoni Central Constituency by pushing his close ally Basil Nyabadza for the post.
Nyabadza in 2009 resigned as provincial chairperson in protest after Mutasa lost the battle for the party’s national chairmanship to Khaya Moyo.