After obliterating at least four Zanu PF provincial chairpersons allegedly linked to Vice President Joice Mujuru, President Robert Mugabe's shock troopers — led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa — have upped the game in strategies to annihilate structures associated with the beleaguered Zanu PF number two, as the party hurtles towards its December elective congress.
This comes amid serious indications that First Lady Grace Mugabe's planned second round meetings "to tap grass-root structures beyond the district" were also aimed at selling or galvanising their own "shadow teams" ahead of the crucial indaba.
As it is, there is a widespread belief that the Mugabe-backed group's strategy of going after Mujuru's alleged allies at chairmanship level was aimed at "supplanting them with friendly, if not pliable, comrades to railroad their agenda".
With this highly-divisive move starting with the dramatic expulsion of Temba Mliswa — in the 90-year-old leader's Mashonaland West backyard and home province — the aggressive strategy has also seen Masvingo provincial chairman Callisto Gwanetsa, Amos Midzi of Harare and Midlands supremo Jason Machaya being booted out.
While the "surface reason" has been that they were failing to organise Zanu PF structures and fanning factionalism, there is a more sinister agenda behind this unpopular move.
And with the charade well in motion, the Mnangagwa group has unsuccessfully sought to pummel Mashonaland East's Ray Kaukonde and Andrew Langa in Matabeleland South.
Apart from seeking to remove Mujuru's perceived allies around the country, the swaggering group is also hoping to fell and checkmate the VP by pushing through constitutional reforms, which will enable Mugabe to appoint his deputies and party national chairperson.
However, the countrywide push and whirlwind may not be that easy in Manicaland, and Mashonaland Central provinces led by John Mvundura, and Luke Mushore, respectively.
When they toppled Mliswa, for instance, they raised inconsistent behaviour by the fiery Hurungwe West legislator who was accused of receiving money and selling the party's secrets to the United States intelligence services — the Central Intelligence Agency.
Mliswa was among the so-called "dirty dozen" a term coined to shame the MPs whose constituencies received funds for self-help projects from the US through a government grant that has been in place since 1980.
Mvundura, a former diplomat, was a compromise candidate to replace suspended Manicaland chairman Mike Madiro who was ousted over allegations of stealing cattle donated for Mugabe's birthday bash as well as soliciting for funds from diamond firms mining in the province.
So far, he has survived one attempt to oust him but is seen by many in Zanu PF as a victim of factional wars.
He is an ally of Didymus Mutasa, who is believed to be one of the backbones of Mujuru in the succession race.
Mushore, who surprised many by defeating Dickson Mafiosi in the provincial elections last year amid claims of gross irregularities, is seen as a symbol of Mujuru's influence in the Mashonaland Central province.
He maintains a low profile and is largely seen as a unifier as evidenced by relative stability in the province in which Mujuru is not entirely respected especially by a group allegedly linked to Mnangagwa.
While the tide is rising against Mujuru, trying to control her very own province of birth, in which she has been an MP since 1980, could be seen as fatal especially if Mushore survives.
Mushore's own profile and Mujuru's stature in this province could work against those seeking to purge the Mashonaland Central chairman.
Kaukonde is seen as the face of Mujuru's resistance in Mashonaland East and yesterday he faced renewed attempts to topple him.
Yesterday, demonstrating war veterans, women and youths claimed the entire executive had been dissolved and a new one would be put in temporary charge until the congress.
Both Mugabe and his wife have accused Kaukonde of fuelling factionalism in the province.
The demonstration in Marondera was the second one in a week as Zanu PF members bayed for Kaukonde's blood amid allegations of sexual harassment and disrespecting the Mugabes.
Saturday's provincial meeting to nominate central committee members could spell the end of Kaukonde whose defiance so far has riled those pushing for his ouster.
It remains to be seen what will happen to the remaining chairpersons Langa (Matabeleland South) and Callistus Ndlovu (Bulawayo).
Richard Moyo, the Matabeleland North chairperson, is set to remain in his post as he is seen as an ally of the group on the ascendancy.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife that the rival teams have already lined up their preferred candidates.
1. Joice Mujuru — president
2. Simon Kaya Moyo — vice president
3. Didymus Mutasa — 2nd vice president
4. Sydney Sekeramayi — chairman
5. Dzikamayi Mavhaire
6. Webster Shamu
7. Nicholas Goche
8. Francis Nhema
1. Emmerson Mnangagwa — president
2. Grace Mugabe — vice president
3. Kembo Mohadi — 2nd vice president
4. Oppah Muchinguri — party chairperson
5. Obert Mpofu
6. Ignatius Chombo
7. Savior Kasukuwere
8. Jonathan Moyo