THERE is growing acrimony between ZANU-PF cadres whose suspensions were lifted by the party’s National Appeals Committee (NAC) and those who assumed their positions in the wake of a ruthless purge in 2014 that targeted former vice president Joice Mujuru and her allies, the Financial Gazette can report.
Dozens of ZANU-PF officials were either shown the door or suspended for varying periods for throwing their weight behind Mujuru as their preferred candidate to succeed President Robert Mugabe who, at the age of 92, is now in the twilight of his political career.
Fifty-two officials have lodged their appeals with NAC, created specifically to consider pleadings from cadres who felt they were unfairly treated. The committee has so far reviewed 25 cases of which seven cadres had their suspensions lifted.
Jason Machaya and Chiratidzo Mabuwa, from the Midlands, had their penalties overturned, while Nicholas Goche from Mashonaland Central had his suspension rescinded as well.
In Masvingo, Killian Gwanetsa, Paul Chimedza and Tongai Muzenda — son of the late vice president Simon Muzenda — saw their appeals sailing through.
NAC, chaired by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, is still to go through a thick file of pending appeals from several other ZANU-PF politicians who were punished for being too close to Mujuru, whose association with the ruling party ended in 2014 after she was accused of plotting to unseat her boss, unconstitutionally.
Among those with pending appeals are Webster Shamu, Tendai Savanhu, Francis Nhema and Flora Buka.A precedence that has induced friction between the returnees and those who orchestrated their downfall has been set in the Midlands after Machaya bounced back as provincial chairman.
He is however, still to chair a single meeting in the region a month into his reinstatement. Soon after his suspension was lifted in early July, he got involved in a horrific car crash along the Harare-Gweru road while on his way from a NAC meeting that presided over his appeal.
He is currently recuperating in a Harare hospital amid lingering suspicions among his family that his top-of-the-range Land Rover Discovery 4 vehicle could have been tampered with, resulting in one of the wheels coming off while cruising towards the Midlands provincial capital of Gweru, hence the accident.
ZANU-PF insiders said the possibility that cadres being thrown a lifeline may revert to their old positions has created tensions between the returnees and people who benefited from their demise.
The latter are fearful of losing their positions as well as being victimised for persecuting the so-called allies of Mujuru who, at the time of their censure, commanded influential positions in the ruling party.
In order to preserve their positions, they would want the returnees to start all over again from the cell, which is the lowest structure in the party.
Reports indicate that there exists a long queue of people gunning for constituencies belonging to suspended members in the hope that they would be precluded from participating in the 2018 plebiscite.
In the Midlands, Machaya’s nemeses are livid over NAC’s decision, vowing to give the politician a rough landing.Even before 44 out of 50 Midlands provincial executive members passed a vote of no confidence on him in November 2014, which led to his suspension in May last year, Machaya would cast a forlorn figure at Provincial Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) meetings as rivals boycotted meetings he would have convened.
“There is no way we can accept Machaya as our leader in the province…He too has personally not forgotten that experience from his earlier stint as chairman,” said a Midlands PCC member who declined to be named.
In Mberengwa South, there has been a lot of jostling for Mabuwa’s seat, and her return is a cause for concern for those who had injected resources into the constituency in preparation for the 2018 polls.
The deputy Minister for Industry, Mabuwa, said she could not comment on the ructions in her home province, preferring to say: “I am concentrating on doing what I am supposed to do and I am not eyeing any position for that matter.”
In Gokwe-Nembudziya constituency, incumbent legislator, Justice Mayor Wadyajena, an ally of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said he will rise to the challenge should NAC rule in favour of Buka, who was handed a five-year suspension last year.
Buka who was the lawmaker for the area for over a decade is reportedly carrying out low key activities in preparation for her return.Once cleared by the Politburo, she may also resume her duties as the ZANU-PF Women’s League’s secretary for administration, a position currently occupied in the interim by Letina Undenge, who took over from the late Espinah Nhari, who was booted out for chanting anti-Generation 40 (G40) slogans at a rally.
“I will teach her (Buka) an electoral lesson if she dares try to wrestle the constituency from me. I have worked well with the people there and they will stand by me,” said Wadyajena.
It is, however, not just in the lower structures of the party where there is resistance against the lost lambs.
Some of the suspended officials who are trooping back into the party used to hold senior positions in the top organs of ZANU-PF such as the Politburo, the Central Committee and the National Consultative Assembly. Some were also in the top echelons of the ZANU-PF Women’s League.
In Mashonaland Central, there is confusion over what will become of Goche, who was the second most senior ZANU-PF politician in the province, after Mujuru, prior to his suspension.
Goche was a member of the Politburo, the Central Committee and National Consultative Assembly.Goche suffered probably the worst humiliation in 2014.
He was accused of hiring assassins to eliminate President Mugabe and had to be hospitalised after suffering from hypertension.Indications are that Goche could be earmarked for the post of Provincial Affairs Minister, which fell vacant after Martin Dinha won the Mazowe North National Assembly seat.
At law, Dinha automatically relinquished his position unless President Mugabe reappoints him. Dinha is being linked to the Justice Ministry as either a full minister or as Mnangagwa’s deputy at the ministry.In the political hotbed of Masvingo, party cadres are plotting to forestall the possibility of Gwanetsa resuming the chairmanship.Gwanetsa chaired the province before his suspension.
This week, Gwanetsa confirmed the lifting of his suspension, but remained tight-lipped about his next move.
“It is true (that my suspension has been lifted), but I do not want to discuss it with the press. There are many party processes that I am waiting for (to be completed) and until they are complete, I will not be commenting,” he said.
Asked if it was true that he was considering reinstatement as provincial chairman, Gwanetsa simply said: “I will let people say whatever they want to say. I will not speak until the right time comes.”
Masvingo is currently being led by interim chair, Amasa Nenjana who replaced suspended Ezra Chadzamira.In Gutu South, aspiring ZANU-PF legislators were plotting against the incumbent and now have a fight in their hands now that Chimedza is going nowhere.Chimedza said he would take on those who were prematurely campaigning in his constituency.
“They are causing confusion. They should wait until the party officialises campaigns. But now that I have been given the green light to start working for the party, I will do all that is necessary to get re-elected,” he said.
The lifting of the suspensions has also widened fissures between Mnangagwa’s allies and a rival G40 faction, which appears to be at the forefront of wooing back most of Mujuru’s former allies.
G40 now claims to have Machaya, Chiratidzo Mabuwa, Gwanetsa and Goche in its ranks.
Mnangagwa’s allies are therefore seeking to get the party to halt the appeals as it feels they are strengthening their opponents.
“The committee has been very impartial, pardoning Mujuru’s allies while at the same time dismissing our people. That is very unfair. Some people in G40 could be happy with some returnees because, remember, some of them were supporting Mujuru together. So it will be a reunion of estranged cadres. It’s Mnangagwa who has nothing to gain here,” said one official
NAC has infuriated Mnangagwa’s allies by upholding the dismissal of war veterans leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa and former provincial youth chairpersons, Godfrey Tsenengamu, Godwin Gomwe, Vengai Musengi, Kumbulani Mpofu, Edmore Samambwa, Tamuka Nyoni and Washington Nkomo while pardoning Mujuru’s former allies.
ZANU-PF’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, this week tried to calm the situation by claiming that there won’t be any interference with the existing structures.
“No one is going back to their old positions; where have you ever seen that happening? It does not work like that. The norm is that whenever someone has their suspension of expulsion reversed, they start from the lower structures. You can check with (secretary for administration, Ignatius) Cde Chombo. He is the one issuing the letters (of lifting suspensions) so he should be able to give you further information, but I have told you the truth,” he said.
Chombo was not reachable for comment at the time of going to print