THE ghosts of factionalism and tribalism – which split Zanu-PF in the middle during the troubled last few years in power of the late former president Robert Mugabe – are back with a vengeance.
This comes as there are widening fissures in the former liberation movement, which recently jettisoned two politburo members – Cleveria Chizema and Tendai Savanhu – for allegedly showing disloyalty to the party and its leadership.
It also comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ascended to power via a popular military coup, has come under growing pressure from long-suffering Zimbabweans over his government’s failure to mend the country’s broken economy.
Speaking in Harare on Tuesday, the ruling party’s political commissar Victor Matemadanda admitted that the former liberation movement was plagued by tribalism and regionalism – warning Zanu-PF structures further that failure to nip this in the bud would have serious ramifications for its survival.
Matemadanda, who is also the deputy minister of Defence, emphasised that the current divisions in the party centred on tribalism.
“We respected (the late vice president Joshua) Nkomo as our leader. People from Plumtree up to Mutoko sang songs praising Nkomo.
“Our relationship should not be premised on tribalism and regionalism. Some are saying let us wait and see whether we are going to support a certain leader or not.
“That’s what you are doing here in Harare … this habit has grown in Harare. It is now like a huge tree and you are saying we are tribal specialists.
“This is not good for the party and it must stop,” Matemadanda warned while addressing Zanu-PF structures.
He added that he was having sleepless nights, with party cadres phoning him regularly regarding the many problems that were bedevilling the party.
“I give everyone my numbers … you hear during midnight some leaders calling, telling me about party problems.
“Leaders must be able to solve problems. If you are a leader and you don’t know how to solve challenges leave that position. You must not be elected as a leader to trouble us.
“We have some people who can’t even write their names, but they want to be elected as chairpersons. Even Jesus said blessed are those who admit that there are some who are better than them.
“If we want to make Zanu-PF strong, let’s start with Harare … The party is destroyed by people who don’t care, who lose nothing at the end of the day,” Matemadanda further told the structures.
“If we destroy the party, some people can go and fit everywhere like Jimmy Kunaka who is now accusing the party of using him.
“If you joined us, tell us your previous history. We must not hear this from other sources. People must know that for the party to grow we must be united. If you kill others who are you going to work with?
“If we had a meeting like this, some must not come out saying what has been deliberated is wrong,” Matemadanda added.
The Zanu-PF political commissar also lashed out at officials whom he accused of abusing social media to tarnish the party, especially on WhatsApp.
“Harare province and the party are being destroyed because of WhatsApp. We told you before that we must not discuss party issues on WhatsApp.
“You are in a WhatsApp group with many people and you think what you are discussing is a secret?” Matemadanda asked rhetorically.
“I don’t personally want people who rush to comment about things. I come from the Midlands … but if I take all the problems from Midlands to Harare it will not be good.
“When you are a leader, you must be able to solve some problems. As a leader you encounter problems every day.
“We don’t want leaders who go on Twitter and Facebook exposing party problems,” Matemadanda warned further.
This comes as more and more Zanu-PF bigwigs are bemoaning the resurgence of the party’s factional, tribal and succession demons which devastated the former liberation movement during Mugabe’s last few years in power.
Then, Mnangagwa was involved in a hammer and tongs war with the party’s Generation 40 (G40) faction – which had coalesced around the nonagenarian’s erratic wife Grace.
The vicious brawling took a nasty turn when Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his rivals during one of Mugabe’s highly-divisive youth interface rallies in Gwanda in 2017.
The then VP’s fate was eventually sealed on November 6, 2017 when Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant a few days after his allies had booed the irascible Grace during a tense rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
However, tables were dramatically turned on Mugabe when the military rolled in their tanks on November 15 of that year and deposed the long-ruling leader from power – which saw a number of alleged G40 kingpins fleeing into self-imposed exile soon afterwards.
But despite Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power, some ambitious bigwigs in the former liberation movement continue to stand accused of plotting to unseat the new Zanu-PF leader.
Meanwhile, Parliament has just held public hearings across the country – ahead of Constitutional Amendment Number 2 Bill to be debated in the august House – where it is expected to sail through as Zanu-PF enjoys a super majority.
Critics say the Bill – which seeks to introduce at least 27 amendments to the Constitution, including dropping the presidential election running mate clause – is retrogressive.
The running mate clause was supposed to become operational from the fast-approaching 2023 general elections, which Mnangagwa has already indicated he will participate in.
The Bill also intends to amend the country’s supreme law to give Mnangagwa the power to appoint the prosecutor-general, extend the terms of retiring judges, increase the women’s quota in Parliament by 10 years, create a youth quota in the National Assembly, and appoint more non-constituency ministers, among other things.
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