Just a day before Zanu PF Women’s League's elective conference kicks off in Harare, the party is reportedly rocked by a series of kidnappings associated with factional fights in three of the country’s 10 provinces.
This was revealed by outgoing Zanu PF secretary for Women Affairs Oppah Muchinguri at a press conference held at the party headquarters last night on Monday.
The press conference was attended by Information minister Jonathan Moyo, Water and Climate Change minister Saviour Kasukuwere, politburo member Patrick Zhuwawo, central committee member Monica Mutsvangwa, businessperson Philip Chiyangwa and president of Senate, Edna Madzongwe.
Muchinguri said the Women’s League condemned in all strongest terms reports of kidnappings of some women delegates, particularly in Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central provinces and were waiting for police reports.
"We have received reports of kidnappings on delegates to participate at the forthcoming conference with them mostly in Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central provinces," Muchinguri said.
"We have also received numerous reports of intimidation to the extent that some women delegates are terrified. Police have been advised of the situation, but unfortunately we cannot pre-empty their reports, whenever they are ready we will furnish them to the media."
This is not the first time for the ruling party to be rocked by kidnapping reports as recently in Midlands, minister of state in the President’s Office, Flora Buka was accused of kidnapping delegates in a bid to force them to vote for her to get a slot in the league. She, however, denied the allegations.
Muchinguri added that the women’s league had put in place logistical arrangements in transport, accommodation and catering to take full control of the situation following the very disturbing kidnapping reports.
"It has become necessary for the league to make these arrangements and take full control of the logistical requirements following very disturbing reports and deplorable reports that some of its members in the provinces are being regimented into factional interests that are against the party principals, values and constitution in pursuit of personal ambition and related agendas.
"In some cases, the league has received reports which border on criminal conduct where its members have been kidnapped or sequestered against their will and without the knowledge of their families who do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones," said Muchinguri.
Muchinguri said members of the league who were kidnapped or sequestered ahead of the conference would be de-registered and barred from the conference.
She also called on police to take kidnappings reports seriously.
"These reports are very worrying and they must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The league wants to make it clear and put on record the fact that any of its members who are kidnapped or sequestered ahead of the conference will be deregistered and will thus not be allowed to participate in the conference without any fear or favour to enforce discipline as well as to protect and ensure the integrity of the conference," she said.
"For the same reason, the league calls on law enforcement authorities to take the kidnappings seriously and let the law take its course against the culprits regardless of their standing or station in the party or society."
Muchinguri said unlike the Zanu PF youth conference held over the weekend where some delegates reportedly complained of food shortages, logistics had been put in place.
Speaking at the same occasion, Madzongwe thanked Moyo, Kasukwere, Zhuwawo and Chiyangwa for providing 15 cattle that would feed delegates.
"The 15 beasts donated by these comrades guarantees that women will have enough food for supper and lunch…it’s a good gesture," she said.
The women’s league conference kicks off tomorrow and would be held under the theme: ZimAsset: Leading Women to Empowerment and Employment and a new leadership is expected to be elected.