- Published on 19 December 2014
- Written by dailynews
Tribalism and regionalism are threatening to rip apart the warring Zanu PF, with the once dominant Zezuru group in the party apparently angry that President Robert Mugabe overlooked them and affirmed Ndebeles and Karangas after the recent brutal purging of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies.
While the presidium — with Mugabe (a Zezuru) at the helm and deputised by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko (who are Karanga and Ndebele respectively) appears to be evenly balanced — well-placed sources in the ruling party yesterday said the Zezurus and the Manyikas were allegedly feeling that they got a raw deal after Mujuru's thuggish ouster.
"The (factional and succession) war in the party is far from over. If anything, it is raging even more, only that this time it is under the surface after the firing of Mai Mujuru and her people, and it (the war) has become more complex and confused. It is obvious people are not fighting about the present, but are looking at life after Mugabe, with who people are and where they come from an important part of the war. It is also plain obvious that Mnangagwa has an unfair advantage over his rivals at the moment, but still it's aluta continua (the war continues)," a top ranking Zanu PF official said.
While senior party officials, including Mugabe, have been putting up a façade of unity after the controversial purges — the sources said there was "a feeling of betrayal within the high echelons of the party", particularly among the Manyikas who felt that "they deserve better" as they had borne the full brunt of the liberation struggle and had played a leading role in ousting Mujuru and her sympathisers from power.
"They are particularly sore that they were not rewarded with key politburo and Cabinet positions in the recent appointments by President Mugabe," a central committee member said.
In that light, there was a feeling that Oppah Muchinguri, a Manyika — who is now the secretary for Transport and Social Welfare in the politburo after giving First Lady Grace Mugabe her influential Women's League post on a silver platter — was unfairly treated by Mugabe.
Supporters of Muchinguri from Manicaland had hoped that she would at the very least be appointed the party's secretary for Administration, if not one of the vice presidents, but instead it was Chombo, an academic with no liberation war credentials who was given the key post that formerly belonged to veteran and now discarded nationalist Didymus Mutasa, a Manyika.
However, the presence of Chombo, a Zezuru, in the high corridors of power, had done little to allay the misgivings of the Zezurus overall, who apparently regard him not only as "a mafikizolo" (johnny-come-lately) but also "an unpopular, but blue-eyed boy of Mugabe who has been deployed in this position to spy on them".
"After the decimation of the Mujuru camp there is now none in the top hierarchy of the party from the once powerful Zezurus who can fancy his or her chances of competing for the reins of power with Mnangagwa, who is well poised to succeed President Mugabe.
"This is not going down very well in that constituency as it has long been thought that it was ordained by the Creator from the days of Southern Rhodesia to run Zimbabwe," another party veteran said.
Also of concern to the Zezurus is the humiliation that was handed to Sydney Sekeramayi, the minister of Defence, who was once the secretary for security in the politburo and now occupies the "lowly, obscure and little-regarded portfolio" of secretary for war veterans, detainees, restrictees and their welfare.
Sekeramayi survived spirited attempts to have him ejected altogether from the party's leadership on allegations that he was working with Mujuru.
This ultimately saw him losing his secretary for security post to Kembo Mohadi, a Venda, and Sekeramayi's wife being shamefully roughed up at Zanu PF's damp squib "elective" conference earlier this month.
"Of all the Zezurus in the politburo it is Sekeramayi, who is the most senior and experienced, but look at the position he was given. He is of no significance as the secretary for a few thousand genuine war veterans and ex-detainees.
"The country has now clearly gone to the Karangas and Ndebeles," said another senior party source from Mashonaland.
Analysts told the Daily News yesterday that the tribal and regional schisms devouring the party amid its factional and succession wars were not new.
They pointed out to the fact that the country's history had always been littered with tribal and regional tensions between various groups and particularly between the "victorious Shonas" and the Ndebeles soon after the country's independence from the British in 1980. This had escalated into a civil war which witnessed an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians brutally losing their lives in the early 1980s in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions.
"Before and during the recent purges in Zanu PF, there was a loose alignment of forces who felt at the time that their interests were tied together against the dominant Zezuru-fronted group.
"But with Mujuru and her allies now brutally booted out of the way, this group which coalesced around Mnangagwa is now turning on each other viciously as the infighting takes a different dimension and tribe and region become important considerations as the time to share spoils arrives.
"As sad as this is, in a way it was almost entirely predictable and it will probably get worse as President Mugabe's time in office comes to an end," said analyst Shepherd Mntungwa.
So bad have relations become in the Mnangagwa camp that some of its members were quoted by the Daily News earlier this week begrudging the fact that Mugabe had rewarded him with the VP post despite the fact that he had allegedly "played a lesser role in the ousting of Mai Mujuru".
Sources also told the Daily News that the so-called "Gang of Four" — comprising senior party bigwigs Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao, Oppah Muchinguri and Saviour Kasukuwere — were allegedly deeply mired in the intra-faction brawls, amid suggestions that they were looking to grabbing more power in the party.
This group, the sources alleged, were working closely with controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe, and at times operated as the brains trust of the Gushungo (Mugabe's totem) clan — that looked after the interests of the nonagenarian and his family.
It is further alleged that this group has worked very hard to try and get Senate President Edna Madzongwe, a Zezuru, to become vice president, and not Mnangagwa — whom they allegedly believed had not done enough in the lead-up to Zanu PF's congress to deserve the post.
The new Zanu PF Politburo members are:
* Ignatius Chombo (Secretary for Administration) Zezuru
* Obert Mpofu (Secretary for Finance) Ndebele
* Saviour Kasukuwere (National commissar) Zezuru
* Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Secretary for External Affairs) Karanga
* Kembo Mohadi (Secretary for National Security) Venda
* Oppah Muchinguri (Secretary for Transport) Manyika
* SK Moyo (Secretary for Information) Ndebele
* Patrick Chinamasa (Secretary for Legal Affairs) Manyika
* Mike Bimha (Secretary for Economic Empowerment) Zezuru
* Josiah Hungwe (Secretary for Production and Labour) Karanga
* T. Chizema (Secretary for Health) Zezuru
* Chris Mushowe (Secretary for Economic Affairs) Manyika
* Grace Mugabe (Secretary for Women's Affairs) Zezuru
* Pupurai Togarepi (Secretary for Youth Affairs)
* Joram Gumbo (Secretary for Education) Karanga
* Thokozile Mathuthu (Secretary for Gender) Ndebele
* Joshua Malinga (Secretary for Disabled Affairs) Ndebele
* Cain Mathema (Secretary for Land Reform) Ndebele
* Jonathan Moyo (Secretary for Science and Technology) Ndebele
* Sithembiso Nyoni (Secretary for Business Liaison) Ndebele
* Prisca Mupfumira (Secretary for Environment and Tourism) Zezuru
* Sydney Sekeramayi (Secretary for War Vets Affairs) Zezuru
* Sekeramayi will be deputised by Chris Mutsvangwa who will also sit in the politburo.