President Mugabe should decisively deal with factionalism to avert a possible breakaway by disgruntled members, veteran nationalist and senior Zanu-PF Politburo member, Cde Cephas Msipa, has said.
In an exclusive interview at his Midlands base last week, Cde Msipa, who was a key player in the Unity Accord negotiations between Zanu-PF and PF Zapu, said factionalism linked to succession was rendering the party dysfunctional.
"I've given a great deal of thought to this issue and I feel that it has gone too far and I must say it's really up to the leadership to deal with those who are promoting factionalism. It's unfortunate that we're spending so much time on this succession thing. Some of us knew that something like this would happen," he said.
Cde Msipa said he spoke to President Mugabe five years ago about the need for him to indicate his preferred successor as happened in Tanzania and other countries.
"Unfortunately, he didn't agree with me. So as you know politics is a struggle for power. People want to take certain positions in the party and that's the nature of politics."
Cde Msipa said President Mugabe was aware of the existence of factionalism and those who were involved in promoting it and must decisively deal with the culprits.
"The key is in the President's hands, he holds the key and I've no doubt about that. No other person. If he can be seen to take action against those who're promoting factionalism, that will end it. The buck stops there. We've to be careful that factionalism does not lead other people to think about forming a break-away party. It can happen and that's why I'm saying this thing must be nipped in the bud and I hope one day the President will act on it," Cde Msipa said.
He said factionalism must not surface at the December Congress so that favourable conditions are created for members to freely elect their leaders.
On his decision to recuse himself from mediating in the selection of a candidate for a second Vice President, Cde Msipa said he was disappointed that some former PF Zapu members had reneged on their earlier unanimous decision to second Cde Simon Khaya Moyo to the position of second Vice President of the party.
"There's so much happening now that I just didn't know what I could do. Firstly, I had met former PF Zapu people in Gweru and we discussed this issue. We've met to agree on whom we should recommend as Vice President and we were unanimous that it should be SK Moyo.
"I didn't influence anyone, they just said it on their own, all those people some from the Politburo and others from the Central Committee of the former PF Zapu and were all unanimous and in fact some of the people who're now expressing interest in the position are the same people who had called for the meeting in Gweru. So for me it's a waste of time to continue mediating in an issue where people cannot stick to their agreement. I felt that there was no use in mediating as that could be misconstrued as if I was trying to influence people to support a certain individual."
He said in the past, the election of a second Vice President from PF Zapu was not contentious. Cde Msipa said in the case of the late Cde Joseph Msika, he was an automatic choice given his stature as the most senior person after Dr Joshua Nkomo.
However, it was a different scenario with Cde John Nkomo who had to fight it out with Cde Naison Ndlovu.
On the issue of the chairmanship, which some members are saying should be a preserve for former PF Zapu members, Cde Msipa said such an arrangement was not part of the Unity Accord.
He said the three main conditions that were enshrined in the Unity Accord have to do with the post of President, the Vice-President and the name of the party.
On the entrance of the First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe into mainstream politics, Cde Msipa said women have the right to elect a leader of their choice. He, however, bemoaned the fact that some people within the party were behaving as if they "own" her in their factions.
"All I can say is that people are solidly behind Cde Mugabe and the First Lady has a right just like any Zimbabwean to participate in the politics of her country. I urge my comrades in the party to focus on economic development instead of petty factional fights."