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President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF has hit one of its most turbulent times as it is now torn by a "spy" scandal and the controversy surrounding ex-Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono's senatorial status.

Even though the 90-year-old leader and several others have warned against the growing factionalism in Zanu PF, Wednesday's politburo meeting is expected to be pre-occupied by these two contentious issues and as usual these days fireworks are expected.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, yesterday refused to specify issues to be discussed, but he had earlier told the media that Gono's issue will be at the front burner of the party's politburo agenda.

"We will most likely discuss various issues but like I have said before, I do not deal with the politburo's agenda as that is under the purview of the secretary for administration, Cde Didymus Mutasa," said Gumbo.

Mutasa was not picking up his phone when contacted for comment yesterday.

Several senior Zanu PF officials have been accused of "going to bed" with Americans with the State media christening the alleged snitches the "Dirty Dozen".

The beleaguered party members, all of them legislators, are accused of soliciting for donations from Washington, with US local embassy staffer Eric Little allegedly at the heart of the spying saga.

The spying saga and Gono,  who was recently disqualified from filling a senatorial vacancy in Manicaland by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) are likely to drift Zanu PF further apart as factions engage in a fierce battle to succeed Mugabe.

Gono has blamed individuals in Zanu PF whom he said are pursuing factional interests for seeking to block him from taking over from the late Kumbirai Kangai as the province's senator.

The former central bank's governor's issue became contentious when Zec disqualified him after he had been voted by the Manicaland Province to replace Kangai, who was declared a national hero and buried at the National Heroes Acre in August last year. The Zanu PF politburo had also ratified the decision, with only a handful of ruling party hawks opposing. The electoral agency said the retired governor did not qualify because he was not a registered voter for any ward in Manicaland as demanded by the law.

But Gono maintains that he was duly transferred from Harare to Buhera West on December 5, last year. Four of the MPs in the spying controversy — including Tapiwa Matangaidze (Shurugwi South), Kindness Paradza (Makonde), Enock Porusingazi (Chipinge South) and the Movement for Democratic Change's Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma) — have also claimed that they were caught up in the Zanu PF infighting.

The other seven perceived "spies" include Hurungwe West legislator Temba Mliswa, Paul Mavhima (Gokwe Sengwa), Walter Kanhanga (Guruve North) Adam Chimwamurombe (Chipinge West), Chriswell Mutematsaka (Guruve South), Batsirayi Pemhanayi (Mutare North), David Butau (Mbire) and Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Uzumba).


With Zanu PF's elective  congress only two months away, party members have entered a mudslinging  and  smear campaign mode. Zanu PF is currently embroiled in nasty factional fights, involving Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Though, the two have in the past denied leading the alleged factions, sources claim they are pushing to enhance their chances of succeeding Mugabe, who has been in power for the past 34 years. At 90, Mugabe still leads Zanu PF, and has not named a successor. Yesterday,  the State media claimed it had exposed the role of Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman, Mliswa in the "espionage" saga.

The State media reported that Mliswa had invited Little to Hurungwe, claiming this was a sign that he was working with the CIA.

In a seemingly veiled attack on the Mnangagwa faction, Mliswa believed to be sympathetic to the Mujuru camp, claims the allegations were being propelled by people who were plotting a coup against him.

He sensationally accused Information minister Jonathan Moyo of being a CIA agent.

Political analyst Dewa Mavhinga, however, said the current Zanu PF situation is a red herring, seeking to divert people's attention from the "stinking" economy, adding that Mugabe's decision will always carry the day in the end.

He gave an example of Grace Mugabe's "grand" entrance into the mainstream of Zanu PF politics.

"Zimbabweans should not wait with bated breath for the outcome of the Zanu PF politburo meeting. Zanu PF will clear all obstacles and get Gono to be senator but that does not put food on our tables. These so-called Zanu PF factional fights are grossly exaggerated.

"There will be nothing explosive about the Zanu PF politburo meeting just as there will be nothing explosive about the coming December Zanu PF congress," said Mavhinga.

"Deliberately leaked stories might later give the impression of explosions and fireworks to characterise an otherwise dull and boring meeting in which the old men will be dozing half the time," Mavhinga said.








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