THE fight between President Robert Mugabe and his deputy Joice Mujuru is set to go to the wire, after Mujuru made her position clear that she expects Mugabe to step down.
The two leaders of Zanu PF held a no-holds-barred meeting last week without any other people in attendance and, The News Leader heard from top sources that Mujuru dropped the bombshell.
Mujuru reported back to the caucus of her faction, that she had told Mugabe, to accept that it is the best time for him to step down.
"That is what we had agreed in our caucus because that is our position – the president has done his sterling work, and must step down.. The VP presented that position to him (Mugabe)," a top official in the Mujuru camp said.
It was difficult to establish what Mugabe's response was.
However, we heard from a different source that Mugabe discussed the matter with some of his confidantes, including members of top security structures. We have also heard from impeccable sources that Mugabe learnt of the Mujuru plot to push him out about three months ago, which nudged him into planning a counter move.
Mugabe ganged up with the Mnangagwa faction – for long entangled in a bitter fight against the Mujuru camp.
"Mugabe has been discussing the matter with a few people, including security chefs," the source said.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he was not privy to the deliberations between Mugabe and Mujuru.
"It was a private meeting and l am not aware of what they discussed," Gumbo said.
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba was not available to comment.
In a move probably meant to pre-empt the Mujuru camp's speculated plan to raise a motion for him to step down, Mugabe told his party's women's league congress that every leader, including himself, had to step down at the December congress.
However, it appeared nobody took Mugabe seriously, and, the following day, the women's league announced a resolution of nominating and endorsing Mugabe for national elections due in 2018 – effectively implying that his position as leader of Zanu PF is beyond debate or challenge.
Mugabe welcomed and accepted the resolution, which was clearly crafted to send a message to Mujuru – that the Mugabe alliances are aware of her plans to take over and working to foil them. It appears the Mujuru faction is resolved and determined to challenge Mugabe at the December congress.
Another senior member in the faction hinted to us by saying, "Mai Mujuru is ready to lead the party and the country".
The main argument being put forward by the Mujuru camp is that Mugabe must step down and take a rest, before the national crisis he is presiding over implodes beyond control.
Our investigations have since established that Mujuru holds a different position to that of Mugabe about the national crisis.
While Mugabe, together with hardliners in Zanu PF, insist on holding on and remaining headstrong, Mujuru wants dialogue with the opposition to try and solve the crisis of legitimacy haunting the Zanu PF regime.
Mujuru, impeccable sources say, believes the crisis can only further worsen, if Zanu PF does not engage in dialogue with the opposition and solve the legitimacy fix.
The Zanu PF power war has reached a crescendo, following Mugabe's open plunge into a fight against Mujuru and her faction's well-established plans for a take-over of power.
The Mujuru faction has made huge gains and elbowed out the rival Mnangagwa faction in the bitter battle for support from Zanu PF key organs and structures.
Mugabe has now teamed up with the Mnangagwa camp and sharply divided Zanu PF, with violence dominating clashes involving the two camps. Mugabe had to drag his wife Grace into the battle, and she took over the powerful position of Zanu PF women's league secretary.
That, in essence, has become the Mnangagwa-Mugabe alliance's only major gain because the Mujuru camp has the control of youth league as well as majority of provinces