BINDURA – Martin Dinha, the Mashonaland Central governor, has escaped an assassination attempt as Zanu PF infighting takes a nasty turn ahead of key polls this year.
The stricken advocate told the Daily News yesterday that he was lucky to be alive and heaped praises on members of the public, who had launched a “batai munhu” (manhunt) for Kozanai Chijokwe, who tried to ram into his Land Rover vehicle three times.
“He was trying to cause an accident and we stopped him,” Dinha said yesterday.
“As we approached him, he drove straight into me forcing me to roll over to the safe side. However, my leg was caught by his vehicle and doctors say it has a crack,” he said.
Although Chijokwe attempted to flee, he was caught after abandoning his off-roader and hiding in the bushes.
Yesterday, Bindura police confirmed the incident and said they were investigating a case of attempted murder on Dinha, with Chijokwe languishing in police custody.
With President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF wracked by factionalism, Dinha has for long been linked with one of the three main groups in the ex-majority party.
Dinha alleged yesterday that Chijokwe was part of a Zanu PF candidate-vetting committee in the northern Zimbabwe town and as the party conducted its pre-primary election selection programme countrywide.
However, the Mugabe loyalist and praise-singer refused to speculate on the motive of the attempt on his life.
Zanu PF insiders say despite a modicum of unity and promulgation of seemingly watertight primary election rules, the chaos that has erupted over the weekend is just a tip of the iceberg — with more likely to follow as the old guard battles it out with so-called young Turks and security personnel seeking to accumulate political power in the pending polls.
When the Daily News crew visited the Mashonaland Central resident minister at his plush Bindura home, he was showing signs of recovery, although struggling to walk, even with the aid of clutches.
Dinha, who is eying the Bindura East Constituency, was ordered to rest for at least three weeks, thus leaving him with precious little time to campaign for himself and his party, which holds its primary elections on June 24.
“This is a very important moment, and I didn’t want to be home at such a time because I should be on the ground,” he said.
Internal strife has shaken up Mugabe’s party, as factional leaders battle it out in a race to succeed the octogenarian leader.
Over the years, there have been persistent fears that the party may implode before crunch polls.
Incidentally, the ex-guerrilla movement has been pushing for early elections — and preferably before mid-year — amid charges that it wanted to forestall a further disintegration of its structures as happened in the 2008 synchronised elections when party stalwarts, including Simba Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa ditched Zanu PF, on the eve of crucial polls that Mugabe lost.