Vice-President Joice Mujuru is likely to be challenged at the Zanu PF elective congress set for December, party sources have said.
BY OUR STAFF
The party is already making preparations for the December Congress with Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa hinting recently that secret meetings were already being held by the two factions within the party.
The factions are reported to be sponsoring favourable candidates who would play a crucial role in choosing the party leader if the 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe leaves office.
The sources said some members of the faction linked to Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the party’s secretary for legal affairs, has been strategising on how Mujuru could be challenged at the congress.
“There are moves to push Women Affairs minister, Oppah Muchinguri to challenge Mai Mujuru at the congress so that they take her out of the succession race and pave way for the strategic positioning of Mnangagwa to ultimately take over the reins when the time comes,” said one of the sources.
“Discussions are being held to ensure this happens starting with mobilising the youths and women to act accordingly in their August congresses so that the dream comes alive.”
The women and youth congresses are set to be held in August this year.
The sources said the faction that wants Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe was waiting for the First Lady Grace Mugabe’s consent before the war against Mujuru goes full blown.
Muchinguri however dismissed the reports as baseless fabrications created by individuals with an agenda to divide Zanu PF.
“In Zanu PF, we don’t work like that. We have clear rules and regulations and established structures in place,” said Muchinguri.
“We need stability and as the women’s league, we say President Mugabe is the leader of the country and I will defend him.”
Questioned on the authenticity of reports that she was awaiting the First Lady’s consent before taking on Mujuru, Muchinguri said: “I don’t want to be used by anybody, I don’t belong to any factions. I support President Mugabe. There are some stupid people who are simply creating things and I would really want to know who they are and sue them.”
The fight for the vice-presidency between Mujuru and Muchinguri is not new as it has been going on for some time now. Comments made by the then US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee in 2009 shortly after meeting Mujuru show that Muchinguri has been linked to the post.
McGee said that apart from Mnangagwa, Mujuru also faced a challenge from Muchinguri, a close ally of Mugabe since the war of liberation. “Muchinguri is now head of the powerful Zanu PF’s women’s league and [possibly with Mugabe’s backing] may attempt to dislodge Mujuru from her position as vice-president at the Zanu PF congress in December,” he said then.
In 2009, the Mnangagwa faction reportedly unsuccessfully sponsored Muchinguri to wrestle the vice-presidency from Mujuru at the party’s congress.
Mujuru and Muchinguri were allies when the former beat Mnangagwa for the position of Zanu PF vice-president at the 2004 congress following the infamous Tsholotsho meeting.
The sources also said Mutasa was likely to square off with Transport and Infrastructure Development minister, Obert Mpofu for the position of Zanu PF national chairperson, currently held by Simon Khaya-Moyo.
Khaya-Moyo is expected to take over the second VP slot, leaving the chairperson’s post open for contestation.
Mutasa could not be contacted for comment yesterday but Mpofu said the media were being “foolish” and were being taken for a ride.
“Don’t be silly. I have always said I’m not interested in this party position, what’s so special about it,” said Mpofu.
But Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said the party was yet to start on preparations for the congress.
“That is propaganda. We are yet to start on the congress issues,” Gumbo said without elaborating.
Zanu PF is embroiled in a tense fight to succeed Mugabe who has been in power since 1980.