HARARE – Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s strongholds — Midlands and Masvingo provinces — convened emergency meetings yesterday and annulled the suspensions of its top provincial executives by Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, setting the stage for what could be more infighting ahead of the party’s special congress in December.
Kasukuwere last week sanctioned the suspensions of Masvingo provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira and Midlands’ secretary for administration Justice Mayor Wadyajena — who are viewed as Mnangagwa’s key allies.
The duo was suspended along with Masvingo’s youth league political commissar Brian Munyoro and Midlands acting vice chairperson Godwin Shiri over a slew of allegations.
Yesterday, the two provinces which have been accused by President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, of fanning tribalism and hatred, held emergency provincial executive meetings where they declared the suspensions of the four officials null and void.
“We held our meeting today. We asked our chairperson Chadzamira and Munyoro to clarify the issue of suspensions, and they said they did not receive any formal letters confirming their suspensions.
“They are just seeing this on social media. As a province, we discussed the matter and we agreed that the purported suspensions are null and void. We are happy with the work which is being done by our chairperson and Munyoro,” Masvingo provincial spokesperson Ronald Ndaba told the Daily News.
“Those allegations which we are seeing on social media are not true . . . we don’t have a problem with our chairperson.
“The letter to suspend someone must come from the National Disciplinary Committee not the commissariat department so the purported suspensions . . . if it is true . . . were not done procedurally,” Ndaba added.
Midlands’ provincial spokesperson Cornelius Mupereri also told the Daily News that they held their meeting and agreed that the suspensions were not done procedurally.
Mupereri said the issue came from the political commissar, which is not proper.
“The issue must have emanated from the National Disciplinary Committee. Basing on these concerns, we agreed as a province that the suspensions are null and void. They (people suspended) received their letters signed by the political commissar,” he said.
According to the Zanu PF constitution, only an appointed disciplinary committee can suspend party members.
Section 71 of the ruling party constitution states that “all disciplinary committees of the party shall conduct their hearings informally but having proper regards to the principles of natural justice”, and section 79, goes further to say “any member of the party against whom disciplinary action is intended to be taken shall first be issued with a prohibition order and notice of charges in writing, for a period not exceeding fourteen”.
Chadzamira was accused of fanning tribalism and spreading hate while Wadyajena was accused of using social media to promote gossip.
The suspension of Chadzamira came hardly four months after winning the Masvingo elections twice, following a controversial re-run which later saw his rival, Masanganise Mutero, pulling out days before polling, citing irregularities.
Mugabe and the politburo had nullified results from the initial regional poll, which was again won by Chadzamira, amid claims of irregularities, including people not voting in some districts.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News that the suspensions of the quartet were aimed at weakening Mnangagwa ahead of the congress due at the end of the year.
The ruling party is divided right in the middle over the party’s unresolved succession riddle.
In the current wars, the Lacoste group is backing Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, while the Generation 40 (G40) camp is bitterly opposed to his mooted higher ambitions.
Mugabe has consistently refused to name a successor, arguing that it is Zanu PF that must decide this issue through a congress when the time comes.
Zanu PF last held its congress in Harare three years ago, where it sacked Mujuru and several other senior officials who included former Mugabe confidante Didymus Mutasa, over the untested allegations of plotting to unseat the 93-year-old.
The party has turned its annual people’s conference which was due to be held in Matabeleland South province into a special congress.
The special congress will be held in Harare from December 12-17 amid growing suspicions that it is aimed at purging Mnangagwa and his allies as part of a big plot to finally resolve the party’s succession issue.
There are calls for Zanu PF to amend its constitution to re-introduce a clause to have a woman in the party’s presidium which was originally presented as a women’s league resolution at the annual conference that was held in Victoria Falls in December 2015.
Both insiders and political analysts agree that the move is “a transparent plot” to oust Mnangagwa, and possibly replace him with Mugabe’s powerful wife, Grace.
Zanu PF resorted to the quota system in 2004 to accommodate Mujuru at the expense of Mnangagwa.
However, the system was expediently abandoned in 2014 to allow him to succeed Mujuru.
Mnangagwa is facing serious onslaught from the G40 faction which has received the backing of Grace in recent weeks.
The vice president has been back-pedalling ever since the factional feuds took an ominous turn in August when he fell sick during an interface rally in Gwanda — which his backers said was allegedly a poison attack by his G40 enemies.
The Midlands godfather was later airlifted to South Africa where he received emergency surgery. He subsequently issued a statement denying that his illness was caused by ice cream from the First Family’s Gushungo Dairies, although he has consistently suggested that he was poisoned.
Recently, Mnangagwa again suggested to hordes of his supporters who had converged at Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu for the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s memorial service, that he was poisoned in the same way Mahofa was in 2015.