President Emmerson Mnangagwa moved to disband Zanu PF structures in Harare and Bulawayo after growing concerns that Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s growing influence was creating two centres of power.
According to insiders, a faction linked to the military, with Chiwenga alleged to be its godfather in Zanu PF’s civilian structures, was now running the show in the ruling party, much to the discomfort of the president’s backers.
Zanu PF sources said the unexpected disbanding of the structures in Harare and Bulawayo under the guise of dealing with the party’s poor performance in last year’s elections and low attendances at events such as the burial of national heroes, was the manifestation of a power struggle between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga.
They said Mnangagwa had also moved to checkmate Chiwenga by appointing his close ally Oliver Chidawu as Harare Provincial Affairs minister. Provincial Affairs ministers mainly act as the president’s listening posts on political issues.
“There have been allegations that the party’s provincial executive in Harare was controlled by soldiers, through retired Major General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe,” said a senior Zanu PF official in Harare.
“Chiwenga will lead the restructuring of the Harare structures and the appointment of Oliver Chidawu as Provincial Affairs minister is to whittle his influence.
“The military side had too much control in Harare and that is why President Mnangagwa had to dissolve it. Bulawayo was just collateral damage.”
Sanyatwe, a close ally of Chiwenga, the former army boss — might be posted to Tanzania in an ambassadorial role and is set to leave the country this week.
Sanyatwe was retired together with Air Vice-Marshal Shebba Shumbayawonda, Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba and Major-General Martin Chedondo, all believed to be Chiwenga allies.
Zanu PF only won one seat in Harare and one also in Bulawayo in last year’s elections, while Mnangagwa performed badly against MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa.
Mnangagwa and Chiwenga deny reports that they fell out soon after joining hands to topple former president Robert Mugabe in a coup in November 2017.
Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo was not reachable for comment but last week said: “The president will advise on the next action” when asked to elaborate on
the reasons behind the dissolution of the Zanu PF structures.
Meanwhile, sources said during last week’s politburo meeting, Chiwenga proposed that an interim executive must be appointed to run the affairs of Harare and Bulawayo, but did not win the argument.
His opponents argued that the party should hold elections for the main wing, women and youths leagues following the restructuring and they believe the faction linked to the military will be routed.
“After removing Sanyatwe, the next thing Mnangagwa did was to remove the Harare structures that he controlled,” another source said. “The idea is to deal with the military side.”
The source said the tussle for control of the party between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga was also to blame for the turmoil in the youth league.
Youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi, his deputy Lewis Mathuthu and secretary for administration Tendai Chirau were recently slapped with votes of no confidence (VONC), which were overturned by the politburo.
Zanu PF, sources said, was now investigating allegations that the signatures were forged to advance a factional agenda.
“It was discovered that some of the signatures used for the votes of no confidence were obtained under the guise that youths would be paid allowances for attending a meeting in Harare in January,” the source said.
“The party is now investigating who originated the petition and what happened to the money claimed by some members who were not even at the meeting and yet there were signatures against their names.
“The VONC were part of the Mnangagwa-Chiwenga fights.
“Some youths wanted Chirau fired accusing him of working with Chiwenga, but Togarepi and Mathuthu resisted and they had to pay the price.”
Zanu PF has always been riddled with factionalism, which reached fever-pitch during Mugabe’s last days in office and this saw the army intervening to back Mnangagwa’s faction.
— The Standard