HARARE – As Zanu PF’s factional and succession wars turn increasingly violent, angry youths wielding sticks and an assortment of other dangerous weapons blocked the party’s Harare provincial chairperson Amos Midzi from addressing a press conference yesterday.
This followed the purpoted vote of no confidence that was passed against him earlier this week.
The rowdy youths, aligned to ousted former Harare provincial youth chairperson Godwin Gomwe — an ally of First Lady Grace Mugabe — were singing derogatory songs denouncing Midzi.
Midzi, who is also MP for Epworth, later issued a press statement affirming that he was still chairperson of the province and that the vote of no confidence passed against him was null and void because due process had not been followed.
He also castigated his fellow party members, including Omega Hungwe and Dumisani Chipango, who he said were going around at odd hours threatening and intimidating some members of the provincial executive committee.
“We want to say that it has come to our notice that some members who are said to have signed the vote of no confidence did so out of fear.
“We want to make a point that some of the signatures are (also) fraudulent, and we are demanding that we be supplied with the original list of the names of the signatures,” Midzi said.
Gomwe was among the Zanu PF provincial executive members that allegedly passed a vote of no confidence against Midzi on Thursday accusing him of disrespecting President Robert Mugabe and causing factionalism in Harare Province.
This was despite the fact that the youth leader had himself already, by then, been booted out of party structures for allegedly engaging in violence and fanning factionalism.
The purported vote of no confidence against Midzi is believed to be part of broader sinister plans by the Zanu PF faction loyal to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to unseat all provincial chairpersons perceived to be sympathetic to Vice President Joice Mujuru.
The thuggish assault on Midzi follows similar recent attacks in Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland — moves that have since motivated party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo to observe ruefully that Zanu PF’s ugly factional and succession wars were now a threat to both the country’s precarious economy and President Robert Mugabe’s legacy.
Analysts have also said that the plans to unseat Zanu PF provincial chairpersons perceived to be sympathetic to Mujuru ahead of the party’s crucial elective congress in early December, were generally proving to be a failure.
The Mashonaland East provincial coordinating committee (PCC), for example, defied Mugabe, his wife Grace and Mnangagwa’s supporters last weekend, saying they had full confidence in the beleaguered Kaukonde.
Sources who attended that PCC meeting said central committee member and Marondera West legislator, Retired Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri moved the motion that the province fully backed Kaukonde.
“Mutinhiri was the one who got the ball rolling by stating that the province fully backs the executive, including plans to expel Mujuru allies…. (David) Chapfika seconded the motion and said the province was united in its support of the executive,” one of the sources said.
In the Midlands PCC meeting held last Saturday, plans to suspend provincial chairman Jason Machaya also hit a brick wall after his supporters apparently mobilised youths and war veterans to demonstrate against his ouster.
“The attempted vote-of-no-confidence failed to take place as war veterans, youths and women who support Machaya countered it at the conference, waving placards and denouncing factionalism,” a party insider who attended the meeting said.
“So, in the end they, (Mnangagwa’s supporters) could not go ahead with their plan. The meeting then went ahead with deliberations on the forthcoming congress,” the source added.
Similarly, a provincial executive council (PEC) meeting also held last Saturday in Masvingo and attended by 35 members, affirmed Retired Brigadier-General Callisto Gwanetsa’s leadership of the province.
The PEC meeting also unanimously resolved to pass a vote of no confidence in Gwanetsa’s deputy, Paradzai Chakona.
Gwanetsa is said to have argued that his purported suspension was a nullity as Chakona had not followed proper procedures.
Temba Mliswa was ousted as the Mashonaland West chairman earlier this month and the politburo has since moved to affirm the decision against all expectations.
In a statement this week, Gumbo said the country’s battered economy had been the biggest casualty of the protracted and ugly wars devouring Zanu PF.
Gumbo, one of only two remaining members of the Dare ReChimurenga council that directed the liberation war, said the factional fights have caused “unprecedented levels of tension within the party with the result that our focus has shifted from our core business as the party of government”.
“The time has come to redirect that focus back to our main purpose and to ensure that we chart the best economic way forward for the Zimbabwean people in line with our election pledges and consistent with the aspirations of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (ZimAsset),” he said.
In a rare admission by the ruling class of the many crises bedevilling the country, Gumbo said it was an open secret that “many of our people are struggling to make ends meet as the current economic climate, exacerbated by years of damaging economic sanctions, takes its toll”.
According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), more than 80 percent of the economically active people are unemployed.
Water and electricity remain in critically short supply while Zanu PF heavyweights are involved in a war of attrition that many fear could lead to a bloodbath and the final death of the local economy.
Referring to the current economic situation as “desperate”, Gumbo said it was time “for an urgent change of priorities”.
With the economy in freefall and the business community pensive, primarily because of the infighting in Zanu PF, Gumbo said Mugabe’s legacy was also at stake.
“Anyone who seeks to push personal and factional interests at a time like this, where millions of our people are suffering and many investors are sitting on the fence pursuing a wait-and-see-approach, is not only selfish, insensitive and on the wrong side of history, but is also tarnishing the good name of the party and drawing unnecessary hatred towards the same.
“This is not only detrimental to our future electoral prospects but has the real danger of tarnishing President Mugabe’s otherwise splendid reputation and legacy,” Gumbo said.