PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has assigned Zanu PF co-vice president Kembo Mohadi, pictured, to lead efforts to try and unite brawling ruling party bigwigs across the country, as the former liberation movement girds up for the 2023 national elections.
Mohadi — a former State co-vice-president who stunned political observers when he surprisingly resigned from his position amid relatively trivial allegations of personal indiscretions — has already hit the ground running in this new assignment.
Speaking in Mashonaland East at the weekend, he implored Zanu PF officials in the deeply-divided province to end their infighting and unite ahead of the fast approaching 2023 polls if they are to avoid the fate of Zambia’s former ruling party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) — which was removed from power 30 years ago and has never recovered its glory since then.
“On the assumption of my duty on June 1, 2021, the president gave me his expectations … among others, His Excellency wants me to foster unity within the party.
“As the English say, ‘United we stand and divided we fall’. The second expectation was that we should engage in programmes that uplift the wellbeing of the people,” Mohadi said.
He added that Zanu PF needed to learn from the past when African nationalists came together despite their many differences to wage a successful liberation struggle against the minority Rhodesia regime — resulting in independence for the country in April 1980.
“When the National Democratic Party (NDP) was banned, the people said let’s fight again. And the next rallying point was Zapu and it was there where there was a little bit of misunderstanding and that’s why we are talking of unity.
“We had those that remained in what they called People’s Caretaker Council and those that went to Zanu. That’s where the whole thing started,” Mohadi told gathered party bigwigs.
“I am giving you this background so that you know where we are coming from when we are talking of unity, and so that you know what we are talking about.
“Some people don’t know that (the history of the liberation struggle). But I am saying this for young people to understand where we come from and how important unity is.
“Unity is very important within the nation, communities and families. If there is no unity there is no peace and harmony within the family and it’s important to unite first for our party to grow,” Mohadi said further.
He also said unity among Zanu PF structures was crucial for the party to avoid taking the same route as UNIP.
“Zanu PF is the party that should remain standing strong long after we have gone. We need to grow the party.
“Growing the party means we must get the young people to come in and groom them for the future of this party. It is a party that has changed faces many times.
“UNIP of Zambia is the one that fought to get the independence, but because UNIP did not have roots within the people and structure … now it’s dead. And we don’t want Zanu PF to die the way these other parties died. It’s a party for the future.
“Yes, the youths criticise us saying, ‘look at what they are doing’, forgetting that us from the past are the ones that made them. It is the past that made the present,” Mohadi further told the gathered Zanu PF officials.
His visit to Mashonaland East came as the former liberation movement is plagued by intense infighting among its senior officials over the impending parliamentary and council by-elections.
Last month, sources told the Daily News that incessant brawling had become particularly intense in Mashonaland East, where long-time educationist Cleopas Kundiona and Lawrence Katsiru were allegedly involved in a bruising battle for the vacant Marondera Central parliamentary seat.
Katsiru stands accused of being loyal to the Generation 40 (G40) faction, which coalesced around the late former president Robert Mugabe’s erratic wife Grace as it brawled with Mnangagwa’s supporters when he was still vice president.
In a letter dated June 15 to provincial party leaders, some ruling party supporters accused Katsiru of fronting the G40s’ interests in the province, while also allegedly trying to destabilise the former liberation movement in the region.
On the other hand, there is also fierce tussling among other rival party groups in Marondera East, where senior officials such as Paradzai Bhasikoro, Tatenda Watambwa, Farai Mabvuwe, Taurai Chikukwa-Songore, Harold Gamu, Jeremiah Chiwetu, Sami Mahufe, Fiona Tangawashe, Richmond Chikowore and Ngonidzashe Mandaza are fighting to fill the vacant seat in the constituency.
The Marondera East seat became vacant following the death of Patrick Chidakwa last year.
Apart from the chaos in Marondera, Harare province is also embroiled in serious infighting as members accuse each other of having links to the G40 faction ahead of regional primary elections.
All this also comes as Zanu PF has started re-admitting several members of the vanquished G40 faction, who were expelled in 2017 at the height of the ruling party’s tribal, factional and succession wars.
Some of the notable names that have bounced back into the ruling party as ordinary card-carrying members include former ministers Makhosini Hlongwane, Tapiwa Matangaidze and Fay Chung.
Former Member of Parliament for Gokwe Central, Dorothy Mhangami, and ex-Zanu PF youth league chairperson, Kudzai Chipanga, have also been re-admitted into the party.
Some of the notable names being courted by the party include former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, as well as ex-ministers Dzikamai Mavhaire — who is now with the MDC Alliance — Francis Nhema and Flora Bhuka.
The party’s radar is also said to be on former Mashonaland East Zanu PF provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde.
The G40 faction fought tenaciously to block Mnangagwa from succeeding Mugabe until his ouster through a popularly supported military coup in November 2017.
The vicious brawling took a nasty turn when Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his rivals during one of Mugabe’s highly-divisive youth interface rallies in Gwanda in 2017.
The then VP’s fate was eventually sealed on November 6, 2017 when Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant a few days after his allies had booed the irascible Grace during a tense rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
However, tables were dramatically turned on Mugabe when the military rolled in their tanks on November 15 of that year and deposed the long-ruling leader from power — which saw a number of alleged G40 kingpins fleeing into self-imposed exile soon afterwards.
But despite Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power, some ambitious bigwigs in the former liberation movement continue to stand accused of plotting to unseat the Zanu PF leader.