Mugabe's Zanu-PF probes senior officials

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party is probing some of its senior officials in Masvingo province for allegedly campaigning for opposition candidates in last November’s controversial Senate election.

But insiders told independent news service ZimOnline the probe—which is targeting former foreign affairs minister and now Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge, former provincial governor Josaya Hungwe, among other senior figures—is just an extension of power struggles in Zanu-PF over President Robert Mugabe’s succession when he steps down in two years’ time.

All those targeted for investigation belong to a faction of Zanu-PF led by former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa that is embroiled in a vicious struggle with a rival faction led by powerful former army general Solomon Mujuru for the control of Zanu-PF in the post-Mugabe era.

“This is just a witch-hunt which is aimed at keeping the pressure on Mnangagwa’s camp,” said a senior member of the ruling party, who did not want to be named.

He added: “If those behind the probe manage to make the allegations stick on Hungwe, Mudenge and others, then they will push for either dismissal from the government or expulsion from Zanu-PF … the whole idea is to destroy the core of Mnangagwa’s supporters, especially within his Karanga sub-ethnic group.”

Masvingo is home of the Karangas, the largest group among Zimbabwe’s majority Shona tribe who dominate Zanu-PF.

The Zanu-PF chairperson for Masvingo, Samuel Mumbengegwi, who until a few months ago was considered an ally of Mnangagwa, confirmed the investigation but denied it is aimed at victimising supporters of the former parliamentary speaker.

Mumbengegwi said all Zanu-PF officials accused of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change or independent candidates during the election are being targeted.

He said: “We are investigating everyone over the issue because it was raised by our supporters during our restructuring exercise. The constitution of the party is clear on such issues and we are just doing what we are empowered to do by the party.

“Those found guilty would be expelled from the party. In case of members of Parliament or ministers, they will lose their posts and where necessary by-elections would be conducted.”

Apart from Hungwe and Mudenge, other notable Mnangagwa allies in Masvingo who will be probed are parliamentarians Shuvai Mahofa and Enita Maziri.

Mnangagwa, who for long was seen as heir apparent to Mugabe, appeared to lose ground in the race for the top job when he last year lost the posts of second vice-president of Zanu-PF and the government to Mujuru’s wife, Joice.

Joice is now seen as the leading horse to succeed Mugabe after the veteran president openly backed her for the vice-president’s job.—ZimOnline

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