BY MOSES MATENGA
ZANU PF’s internecine wars have turned nasty ahead of Tuesday’s crunch provincial elections with reports that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga were using the plebiscite to put their ducks in a row and control structures before the party’s crunch 2022 elective congress.
Senior party officials who spoke to The Standard confirmed that the provincial elections were threatening to get bloody as violence had already erupted in some provinces.
And in this political mess, the name of exiled former Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere comes up, accused of sponsoring candidates in the Zanu PF provincial elections. His accusers charge that Tyson, as Kasukuwere is known, is determined to take back control of the party that he led as political commissar before he went into exile following the November 2017 military coup.
“This is a fight for the control of structures ahead of the congress that we hear is around December 2022. It’s a war now as the fight is on who should be in charge, Mnangagwa or Chiwenga,” a source from the volatile Mashonaland Central province said yesterday.
Inside sources and other information gathered by The Standard ahead of the Tuesday polls indicate that intimidation and mudslinging, including even outright violence are taking centre stage across provinces, particularly in Manicaland, Midlands, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central.
In Manicaland, there were reports that villagers were being threatened against attending meetings called by rival candidates while police received an assault report on Wednesday where a Zanu PF local chairman was attacked with a knife by a member of a rival team during a meeting.
Manicaland Zanu PF chairman Mike Madiro confirmed the attack and said there were several other cases of assault against him and other aspiring candidates.
“They are resorting to violence. last week my official vehicle was stoned by people linked to an aspiring youth league chairman in the province,” Madiro told party supporters in Nyanga on Thursday.
“The windscreen was shattered and the huge stones they threw almost hit the driver’s chest. He could have died had it not been for the steering wheel that blocked the stones. Our vehicle could have veered off the road and we could have all died in the vehicle.”
Madiro, a known Mnangagwa ally condemned the acts of violence.
“Four days ago, my deputy from Chipinge (Dorothy Mabika) was attacked and her vehicle stoned. On Wednesday, a party youth was attacked with a knife during a DC meeting in Mutasa. The attack was led by the gang linked to the same person wanting to be youth league provincial chairman. He is angry because, he says his victim is not supporting him,” he said.
“The issue was reported to the police. The victim showed me where he was attacked using a knife and his only crime was why he was not supporting one of the contestants.”
Central committee member Moses Gutu claimed that some people who wanted to contest in the Zanu PF provincial elections were Kasukuwere’s agents.
“The one you are contesting against (for the youth league post) is a G40 proponent and works with Kasukuwere. He is Kasukuwere’s agent and runs service stations. If you vote for him, you are voting for Kasukuwere who wants to contest president Mnangagwa in 2023,” Gutu said.
There are reports that Kasukuwere, a former Cabinet minister, was mulling a political comeback to lead Zanu PF. Kasukuwere belonged to a G40 faction with the likes of exiled minister Jonathan Moyo and former First Lady Grace Mugabe.
In Masvingo province, Zanu PF supporters protested at the homestead of Chiredzi West Member of Parliament Farai Musikavanhu after accusing him of using presidential inputs to buy support.
Incumbent Ezra Chadzamira, who is under siege from rivals in the faction-ridden province, is fighting for political survival.
In Mashonaland Central, outgoing chairperson Kazembe Kazembe faces off with businessman Tafadzwa Musarara for the top provincial post amid reports of violence and intimidation of supporters in the province.
So vicious have the fights been in the province that war veterans and other party structures are reportedly baying for Kazembe’s blood publicly, accusing him of working against the party.
Kazembe denies the allegations and says his rivals are being pushed by individuals with strange agendas.
Former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda, who is eyeing the Bulawayo provincial chairman’s post, hinted in his campaign message that he wanted to restructure the party and flush out what he called criminal elements that were hiding in Zanu PF.
Sibanda took a political sabbatical in 2014 at the height of the Zanu PF factional wars that pitted the Joice Mujuru-led group and the Mnangagwa faction which was then supported by the former First Lady.
“There are criminals who come to Zanu PF and people will hate the party because they say it is full of criminals. I want to warn those criminals that it’s now time up,” Sibanda said.
“The party knows that when Jabu is there the party is now awake and the party will rise ideologically and in principle. The party has to be reorganised structurally and ideologically,” Sibanda said.
Zanu PF has dissolved the Provincial Coordinating Committees ahead of the polls. Politburo members are currently in charge.