ZANU PF will hold its national people’s conference in October amid allegations the ruling party is dogged by factionalism that may affect its performance in the 2023 harmonised elections.
It has been reported in the media that a faction has emerged calling itself Zanu PF 2 to oppose President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s 2023 presidential election candidature.
The Daily News on Sunday Chief Writer Mugove Tafirenyika last week had a chat with Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu on these and many other issues affecting the ruling party.
Below are the excerpts of the conversation.
Q: Give us an update on the national people’s conference preparations in light of the Covid-19 situation?
A: Before responding to your question, first allow me to thank you for this dialogue platform.
Such interactions substantiate the open culture which the Second Republic has been encouraging…
Now coming back to your question, you would recall that the convening of the national people’s conference is a constitutionally obligated mandate of the party’s national chair.
Therefore, as I give this response I hope not to be misunderstood to be usurping a role that is not mine. So I will respond to your question in administrative terms.
As a party, we have been extensively engaged in assessing the situation and also being guided in our planning by World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols and their adaptive subversions as they relate to our context.
The adaptive mode for convening events since the outbreak of the pandemic has seen various organisations across the world being virtually innovative.
On the other hand, sanitisation and the vaccine regime have enabled a partial return to normalcy in events hosting across the world.
Therefore, our technical teams are on the ground assessing how we can have a Covid 19 spreader-free annual national people’s conference.
Q: Now that it will be held virtually, can you explain the modalities?
A: Indeed, without fail, the virtual route will be taken. Again your question has a spillover effect on the party’s ICT faculty which in turn is functionally synchronised to the Department of Science and Technology, but all the same, all these pockets of the party submit to the broader administrative matrix of our internal constitution and general operations.
Therefore, we are harnessing the technical support of the science and technology front to ensure that we have a decentralised virtual conference model.
The current scourge of the virus may not allow Zanu PF’s enormous multitudes to be gathered in one space as we have done in the past.
Also, remember that the idea of virtual conferencing will be complemented by our traditional dissemination methods on television and radio.
The virtually intensified direction is not a pro-Covid-19 novel invention, we have been live-streaming conference content through private and public media houses’ Facebook and YouTube channels before.
This time we are only accelerating the virtual side to opening the conference to less shoulder to shoulder interactions of our people as we have done in the past.
Q: Since the beginning of the year the party has been on a restructuring exercise but up to now only the cells and in a few cases the branches have been completed. What are the challenges?
A: Few, but what and whose standards? We are happy with the pace we are taking because our timeline target is the 2023 election.
So we are doing fairly well in revamping all the cornerstones of our membership.
What I can assure you is that the structures which will consolidate our power base in 2023 are intact. And again, be ready for surprises.
Q: We have heard a lot about the G40 challenge during the exercise. Why does that continue to be a factor in the party?
A: The G40 remnant factor in Zanu PF is now an elusive force that excites those of you in the press. G40’s residual impact in Zanu PF is only magnified by you people in the media.
At some point, I assumed that you comrades in the media are being used to sell an impression that G40 still has a place in the Zanu PF of today. We hear about this G40, that G40, this nonsense from you people and your dramatic journalistic excitements.
Q: Some G40 members have been allowed back into the party while others are being blocked. Why is this so?
A: No, it is wrong to call them G40 members. Fine, even if we are to go by that narrow labelling position, would it not be better to refer to them as former G40 members?
The party’s estranged members are coming back home. No one has been blocked.
If any of those you claim are being blocked apply readmission considerations will be made. No one has been blocked.
Our proposition to re-engagement goes much deeper than its perceived orthodoxy of investment attraction.
We also need to re-engage at an intra and inter-party level. This explains why we are also taking in former opposition members into the party as our new breed of loyalists.
Q: There are continued reports of factionalism along tribal and regional lines amid concerns there is a new faction calling itself Zanu PF 2 that is allegedly fighting the president. What is your comment?
A: That is the wishful thinking of a few ideologically misguided and trivial minded elements. There’s more to our unity as a party than the imagined division we are reading about on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Q: I read your article in one of the State papers recently over this issue. How involved are you and your family in the factions?
A: If you carefully read the article, you would recall that I quoted a huge section of my autobiography which illustrates how I have and will never be involved in factionalism.
To drag my little household including my chickens and rabbits into imagined factional wrangles of an enormous political powerhouse like Zanu PF is the most stupid thing any shrewd reader of politics can believe.
It’s sheer madness to draw conspiracies of family-centred factional loyalties because almost every politburo member’s family is a hive of political activity and political consciousness.
So why single out my family when all our Zanu PF politburo members have active party members?
In some instances, you have one family with an MP and a politburo member, in other cases, you have a family with a minister and a politburo member or two or more members in the Central Committee.
Then you wonder why Mpofu and his wife are singled out in factional mudslinging nonsense.
That is blatant mischief to misrepresent someone’s family as an oligopoly within the party as if mine is the only purely Zanu PF subscribing family.
You have more other hard-core Zanu PF families even in our communities and I have not heard of any families where I come from in Umguza structures that have constituted themselves into factional fanning entities. There is no factionalism in Zanu PF to talk about in the first place.
Q: How would you describe President Mnangagwa and his deputy Chiwenga’s relationship today?
A: Those two are brothers! They love each other dearly.
Q: Is Zanu PF going to hold an elective congress next year given that for the past two or three years the party has seemingly endorsed Mnangagwa as the candidate in 2023?
A: The party is consistent in that position. Besides, the constitution allows His Excellency the president to run for a second term. In other words, he is endorsed by the same constitution that assigned him into office to be Zanu PF’s presidential candidate in the 2023 harmonised elections.
Q: Can Mnangagwa be challenged at the congress?
A: Challenged by who and why if I may ask?
Q: What does the new role being played by vice president Mohadi in the party mean to your position as the secretary for administration?
A: It means that his Excellency, and first secretary Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has decentralised the presidency to Zanu PF headquarters to enhance the smooth running of the party.
It’s a unique model which enables subordinate structures to the presidency to have daily interaction with the mind and vision of the party’s top leadership.
As the secretary for administration like any other secretary in the politburo, my office stands to benefit from the constant interface with the wisdom of vice president Kembo Mohadi.
Q: Was the appointment of the VP to his new role a constitutional one?
A: But honestly, do you think that in the entirety of its wisdom, Zanu PF can make an unconstitutional decision of such great magnitude? Come on!