Zanu PF Masvingo debacle

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ZANU PF’S intriguing succession political drama played out in Masvingo province last month during a still-born bid to elect a substantive chairperson, NewsDay can reveal.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere

With questions still swirling as to whether politburo member Joram Gumbo was still acting chairperson, his report to the party’s politburo was a direct attack on national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and his lieutenants.

“My observation is that there is a struggle for control of the province at leadership level. In this regard it is very apparent that the leadership is deeply divided and has provincial and external allegiances. This in my view is the real cause of disunity,” Gumbo said in his report to the politburo last Wednesday. In the February 23 internal election, former chairperson Ezra Chadzamira was leading the race with 12 393 votes against Mutero Masanganise’s 4 888 with 263 of the 145 districts having cast their ballots.

Gumbo urged Zanu PF to allow the province to elect its leadership “free of external influences if unity is to be achieved.”

“There is a lot of latent interference in Masvingo at national level,” he said.

Gumbo recommended the holding of a “special meeting to bury the hatchet” which would be attended by members of the central committee, provincial executive committee, war veterans and ex-detainees.

Two distinct factions within Zanu PF were engaged in a bitter tussle for power as senior leaders look beyond ailing 93-year-old Mugabe despite the fact that Zimbabwe’s only ruler since independence from Britain 37 years ago has already been endorsed as the former guerrilla movement’s presidential candidate in elections expected next year.

Gumbo believed to be a member of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Lacoste faction twisted the knife into Kasukuwere, a leading figure in the G40 faction that has been pushing for First Lady Grace Mugabe to take charge.

However, there have been rumours that Mugabe’s wife was being used as a ruse.

“I wish to also report that as acting chair and returning officer, I had no control of the electoral process.

Instead the national political commissar had total control of the process through direct communication with provincial chairpersons who were leading different teams.

“My expectation was that I would be in charge of the process and that the national political commissar would receive reports from me. As a result decisions were taken without my involvement and I would only be informed of those decisions,” Gumbo said, adding it would be a waste of resources to restart the process.

While acknowledging reports of inaccessibility to some areas due to flooding and other logistical glitches, Gumbo, who doubles up as Transport minister, raised the red flag in others.

“Some areas of Chingwizi could have been difficult to access but honestly the rest of Mwenezi was accessible,” he said. Harare provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe an alleged Kasukuwere ally was heading the team.

Gumbo also argued that he could not understand how 40 districts in Masvingo urban could not vote. Bulawayo provincial chairperson Dennis Ndlovu was the head of delegation.

Zanu PF has, however, ordered a rerun of the elections at a day to be announced.