A TITANIC power struggle has exploded among Zanu PF apparatchiks in Masvingo province amid revelations that regional party chairman Ezra Chadzamira is under siege from Zaka North legislator Robson Mavhenyengwa, a contender to his throne.
Sources said although provincial elections were suspended by the politburo – Zanu PF’s highest decision-making organ in-between congresses at its Monday meeting – heavy jostling has continued in the restive province.
Sources from the province say the battles are being fought along the age-old factional lines characteristic of a build-up to any such restructuring exercise.
The ruling party is currently dominated by two main factions, one led by its President and First Secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa and other by his highly ambitious Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
Zanu PF was this week forced to suspend its district and provincial elections due to serious infighting within the party.
Party sources this week told NewZimbabwe that party faithful from the politburo down to the grassroots are being forced to take sides as Mnangagwa and Chiwenga’s proxies prepare for a political fight to the death.
The archenemies in this battle for provincial supremacy are the incumbent Chadzamira, a Mnangagwa ally, and Mavhenyengwa who is reportedly bidding for Chiwenga.
The bitter mudslinging between the two warring factions took an intriguing twist recently when Chadzamira was briefly arrested by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) over corruption charges.
However, Chadzamira’s faction accuses the vice-president of instigating the his arrest.
“A day before Chadzamira’s arrest, the vice president was in Masvingo where he addressed sugarcane farmers. It is from this meeting that Chadzamira’s corruption allegations appeared to have emanated from. After the meeting, the VP ordered the arrest of Chadzamira,” claimed one senior Zanu PF source privy to the on- goings in the ruling party.
Soon after his arrest, the source said Chadzamira reportedly send an SOS call to Mnangagwa who immediately ordered his release.
The sources said the battle lines between the two feuding factions are being drawn more clearly than ever before with the Mavhenyengwa’s team reportedly burning mid-night oil in meetings plotting Chadzamira’s ouster.
“So far, over four anti-Chadzamira secret meetings have been held but the most crucial ones are the two that were held at (Masvingo North Member of Parliament and Minister of State in the President’s office Davis) Marapira’s Wimpy house. The other meeting was held in Gutu and was chaired by the District Coordination Committee (DCC) chairperson Brian Munyoro,” a source close to proceedings said.
“During the meetings, Munyoro was clear that he was tasked to campaign for Mavhenyengwa with the aim that after elections, Chadzamira will be fired from his current position of Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution paving way for Mavhenyengwa,” another party source who refused to be named for fear of victimisation said.
Mavhenyengwa also stands accused of meddling with the party’s Zaka District Coordinating Committees (DCC) structures currently chaired by Clemence Chiduwa. Mavhenyengwa is now reportedly side-lining the DCC and working with Zaka West MP Ophias Murambiwa.
“Murambiwa and Mavenyengwa have literally usurped the powers of the DCC. Murambiwa is now calling meetings without the knowledge or approval of the current DCC members. For example, on Wednesday, 22 September the Mavenyengwa faction held a DCC meeting at Jerera growth point which was chaired by Murambiwa,” another source said.
The sources said the Chiwenga faction views Chadzamira as a stumbling block in its bid to control the party’s political space in the province.
“Chadzamira is seen as the last man remaining in ED’s corner hence his removal will make easier for anyone to challenge the President in Masvingo and win,” added another source.
The ruling party’s warring camps seem to be going their own ways as their differences loom larger each day.
With both sides at daggers drawn and the heartland of the party’s rural support at stake, it seems the internal feud is heating up to be a political battle to the death.
A truce is the furthest thing from their minds, yet the contenders still refuse to admit there is a war on. Mavenyengwa dismissed the allegations as “all stories are lies” while Chiduwa was not eager to discuss the issue.
“Unfortunately, am not in a position to respond. You can get in touch with the Provincial Chairman, Hon Chadzamira,” he said.
At the time of writing this article Chadzamira had not however responded to questions send to him.