Mnangagwa and Chiwenga rift latest: Zanu PF expels 2 senior officials as factional fights get nasty


The Zanu PF Politburo on Wednesday expelled party secretary for health, child care and the elderly, Cleveria Chizema and former Mbare East Member of Parliament Tendai Savanhu, for “behaviour inconsistent with the party”.

Last month, Zanu PF suspended Chizema-the most senior Politburo member in Harare-for further investigation after the security department presented a report on how internal forces were working with some senior officials to foment discord in the party.

Addressing the media after the Politburo meeting, Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said the ruling party would not spare those working to divide the party.

“Today the Politburo unanimously decided that Mrs Cleveria Chizema be fired from the party because of the seriousness of her case in which she did not deny any wrongdoing. She joins her accomplice Tinashe Maduza who was expelled at the last Politburo,” he said.

He said any elements working to split or divide the party would not be treated with leniency.

“On the list of the people expelled from the party is Tendai Savanhu, again for his association with Chizema. He stands expelled as of today.”

Chinamasa said in the case of Chizema, she did not deny the allegations.

“She said it happened in March but she did not alert the party and hid some of the material under her carpet,” he said.

The Politburo also endorsed the suspension of Tamuka Nyoni, the party’s Matabeleland North youth chairperson.

“Tamuka Nyoni, youth leader from Matabeleland North was suspended by his province and the politburo endorsed the suspension for his alleged involvement in behaviour and actions which are inconsistent with our expectations of cadres of the party,” said Chinamasa.

He added: “We are making serious decisions to send clear message to anyone who does not follow the party line that he does not deserve to be in our midst,” he said.

Last month, Mnangagwa accused his deputy of plotting against him in a heated exchange, highlighting a rift between the nation’s two most powerful men as the economy implodes.

At a meeting of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s politburo last week, Mnangagwa shouted at Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, according to two people familiar with the situation. They asked not to be identified because the quarrel hasn’t been publicly disclosed.

The president accused his deputy of instigating a plan to use an opposition protest on July 31 over the deteriorating economic situation to embarrass the national leader, the people said. Some party members would have been encouraged to demonstrate alongside the opposition, but focus their criticism on Mnangagwa to weaken his standing within the ruling party, the people said.

Chiwenga denied any plot against the president, saying he’d endorsed Mnangagwa as president for Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections, the people said. He said he had protected Mnangagwa against enemies within the party who have now fled the country.

The clash shows the tension between Mnangagwa, 77, and Chiwenga, the 63-year-old former head of the armed forces who installed Mnangagwa when he led a November 2017 coup that ousted President Robert Mugabe. Some military leaders and their allies have grown increasingly impatient as inflation has exceeded 700% and shortages of fuel and food have become rife.

Calls to government spokesman Nick Mangwana and Chiwenga’s office weren’t answered when Bloomberg sought comment.

Mnangagwa’s relationship with the military is complex. It elevated the former spy chief to power, but at the same time Chiwenga is seen by analysts as ambitious and impatient to take over from Mnangagwa. The ex-military general wields influence within the ruling party and was this week handed oversight of the Health Ministry.

In June, military leaders held a press conference to say they weren’t planning a coup, stoking speculation of disquiet within the ruling elite. Still, later that month they ordered the closing of the stock exchange and banned large mobile-money transfers in a bid to stabilize its collapsing national currency, people familiar with the situation said at the time.

At last month’s meeting, Mnangagwa brandished fliers denigrating him that were seized by the Central Intelligence Organisation from the home of Cleveria Chizema, the people said. Chizema has been suspended. She didn’t answer calls to her mobile phone.

The fliers called for Zanu-PF supporters to join the opposition protest, which was stillborn after security forces deployed on the streets of the capital, Harare. That deployment stoked the latest round of speculation of increasing military influence on the government.

— NewZiana/Bloomberg

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