ALLIES of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa forced a high-powered delegation from the ruling party’s supreme decision-making body in between congresses, the Politburo, to abort a meeting convened mid this month in a bid to douse factional flames engulfing Masvingo province.
Led by Politburo member, Jonathan Moyo, the delegation had to call off the meeting midway after most of the participants walked out on them as factionalism reared its ugly head again in the restive Masvingo region.
According to sources from Masvingo, Moyo was accompanied by a senior ZANU-PF official, George Rutanhire and three other ZANU-PF members seconded by the Politburo.
The province has turned into one of ZANU-PF’s political hotbeds.
Drama has been swinging from one end to the other, as factions shred each other to pieces in order to control the province. The tiff is between two groups namely Generation 40 (G40) and Team Lacoste that have gone parallel in the opposite direction due to the debate around President Robert Mugabe’s succession.
The latter has thrown its lot with Mnangagwa whom it wants to succeed the incumbent in the event that he vacates the high-pressure office, a prospect being resisted by the former.
Following the ouster of Joice Mujuru as President Mugabe’s second-in-command in 2014, Mnangagwa had gained ground in Masvingo and the Midlands provinces.
In the south-eastern part of the country, his foot soldiers, among them, Shuvai Mahofa (Minister of Provincial Affairs) and Josiah Hungwe (Minister of Psychomotor Activities) had been calling the shots, while July Moyo, Justice Mayor Wadyajena and Owen Ncube had established an octopus-like grip in the Midlands province.
Lately, the Vice President’s allies have been under siege, with their future in ZANU-PF looking increasingly uncertain.
With the help of the war veterans, Mnangagwa’s allies are proving to be no pushovers, as they are making the two provinces, which are currently under G40 proxies, ungovernable.
In a bid to get the two camps to smoke a peace pipe so that they could start to prepare for the 2018 elections as one united force, a delegation was dispatched to Masvingo by the Politburo to convene a meeting of the hostile sides on July 16.
Out of the seven administrative districts in Masvingo province, three of them (Bikita, Chiredzi and Mwenezi) had no representation at the meeting.
Those that managed to dispatch representatives included Chivi, Gutu, Masvingo and Zaka.
With three districts giving the indaba a wide-berth, the attendance was poor.
ZANU-PF insiders told the Financial Gazette that Mnangagwa’s loyalists, who congregate under the banner Team Lacoste, had sent out a message to their allies not to attend the meeting as it was being convened by members from the rival G40 faction.
Still, word could not get to all their associates, resulting in some of them pitching up for the meeting.
And when the meeting was half-way through, representatives from mostly Gutu and Chivi started trooping out of the gathering to spite Moyo and his delegation, whom they accused of not being neutral arbiters.
Interestingly, Mahofa is from Gutu while Hungwe hails from Chivi. It could not be immediately established if the duo influenced the walkout, which resulted in the meeting being abandoned.
Moyo’s delegation is now preparing to return to the province over the weekend to complete the unfinished business after interim provincial chairman for Masvingo, Amasa Nenjana and commissar, Jappy Jaboon, committed themselves to mobilising more people for the meeting.
In a twitter response to enquiries from the Financial Gazette, Moyo downplayed the significance of the low turnout as well as the abandonment of the meeting saying: “It was not a rally, but a meeting of delegates from the province’s seven districts.”
He did not respond to further questions sent to his Twitter handle and to his email account.
Moyo is suspected of being one of the kingpins in G40, although he denies it.
Ironically, he was one of the senior ZANU-PF officials who burnt their fingers in 2004 for attempting to prop up Mnangagwa as one of President Mugabe’s deputies.
For his role, Moyo was jettisoned into the political wilderness, only to make a dramatic comeback a few years later.
Many postulate that Moyo did not forgive Mnangagwa for failing to stand up for him when their bid to parachute “the crocodile”, as one of the incumbent’s deputies, boomeranged.
On July 16, Moyo and his delegation were rebuffed in their efforts to end the infighting in Masvingo.
G40 members appear to have succeeded in mobilising the majority of Members of Parliament in the province to rally against their nemesis, Team Lacoste.
G40 is said to have so far enlisted the support of 18 of the province’s 26 members of the National Assembly, who are baying for the blood of Mnangagwa’s long time allies namely Mahofa; Hungwe (the party’s national secretary for production); Lovemore Matuke (former provincial chairman) and Paul Mangwana (deputy secretary for legal affairs).
After the aborted July 16 meeting, pro-G40 lawmakers held a clandestine meeting at a local hotel on Wednesday night last week where they agreed to send a team to Triangle to campaign against Mahofa’s land allocations.
Mahofa, as provincial lands committee chairperson, is overseeing the distribution of land which was ceded by Tongaat Hullet, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed sugar making concern, to locals under the area’s community share ownership scheme.
The meeting was reportedly attended by several MPs from the province, including Jaboon (Masvingo Urban); Daniel Shumba (Bikita East) and Kennedy Matimba, among others.
The meeting tasked Nenjana, to lead the team which descended on Triangle on Saturday where it convened a meeting which reportedly resolved to repossess pieces of land thought to have been distributed to Mnangagwa allies.
Nenjana, Jaboon and provincial youth chairman, Nobert Ndaarombe reportedly took turns to lash out at Mnangagwa allies, especially Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association national political commissar, Francis Nhando, who earlier in the week had taken part in the war veterans meeting which resolved to withdraw its support from ZANU-PF.
Nhando is one of the Mnangagwa allies who own sugar cane plantations in the area.
According to press reports earlier this week, the main speakers at the meeting threatened to invade Nhando’s plot.
Nenjana’s mobile phone was not reachable this week.
Jaboon confirmed the Saturday meeting, but declined to divulge its agenda.
He said: “It is true that we will be going to Triangle, but I am not at liberty to give further details”.
Notwithstanding the pressure from G40, Team Lacoste is not giving up.
It has countered G40 by launching a wave of smear campaigns against the MPs who have aligned themselves to G40, and they are suddenly finding it extremely difficult to operate in their constituencies.
The MPs recently wrote to ZANU-PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, complaining about being sidelined in the distribution of drought relief maize donated by Tongaat Hullet to alleviate hunger in the famine-ravaged province.
Against this background, President Mugabe was forced to travel to the Lowveld town of Chiredzi last month to contain the raging factional wars before subpoenaing the quarrelling comrades to his State residence in Harare a week later.
His spirited efforts have all gone up in smoke as all love has been lost and neither faction is making any concessions with both sides upping the game and each is going for broke.
The meetings in Triangle and at State House saw Mahofa being accused of stealing part of the money that was donated by Tongaat Hullet to the First Family.
Mahofa is said to have produced all the receipts and accounted for every cent before the President.
Team Lacoste insiders alleged this week that those who attending President Mugabe’s meeting had been coached by Moyo.
“In fact, we understand that he (Moyo) was seething with anger and labelled them useless people who could be outwitted by two people (Mahofa and Hungwe) after the meeting at State House. How can we then possibly host such a person,” questioned the official. – Fingaz