Zanu-PF, MDC head to ANC bash

Zimbabwe’s main political parties have sent representatives to South Africa to attend the centenary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) that kicks off on Friday.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF delegation will be led by Simon Khaya Moyo, the party’s national chairperson, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) delegation will be led by Lovemore Moyo, the speaker of Parliament.

Conflicting reports surround Mugabe’s attendance at the ANC bash as he is currently on annual leave until February 1. His spokesperson, George Charamba said his boss was away and would only be back at work at the end of month, and was on holiday in Malaysia with his family.

But a Zanu-PF insider said the 87-year-old leader would make it for the ANC festivities and would be in South Africa on Saturday. Pressed for a comment on the matter surrounding Mugabe’s attendance, Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu-PF spokesperson said, “I am in a meeting, I can’t comment and I don’t know what time I will be finished here.”

However, official information from the ANC suggests that Mugabe is part of the 46 heads of state billed to attend and had accepted an invite to attend the weekend festivities in Bloemfontein, Free State.

Mugabe’s attendance of the ANC bash, although on leave, may well be a show of camaraderie after ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, attended Zanu-PF’s conference held in Bulawayo last December and endorsed Mugabe’s presidential candidacy.

At the Bulawayo conference, Mantashe offered to help Zanu-PF come up with “strategies” to win elections expected this year. The ANC enjoys historical ties with Zanu-PF dating back to the days of the liberation struggle in the 1960s and has used this to defend its relationship with Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

Meanwhile, the smaller MDC group led by Welshman Ncube will not be attending the ANC bash as it did not receive an invitation from the President Jacob Zuma-led ANC.

Priscilla Mushonga-Misihairabwi, the party’s secretary general said this week: “We did not get an invite, how then can we just send a delegation and pitch up with no invitation? We are not attending the ANC celebrations.”

The snubbing of Ncube’s MDC at the ANC celebrations may prove to be a setback in its bid to gain footing in the eyes of the electorate as an influential political party to be reckoned with, after constantly being marginalised by Zanu-PF and the MDC-T.

Ncube and Zuma are in-laws, through the marriage of Ncube’s son Wesley to Gugu Zuma.

Follow the Mail & Guardian‘s coverage of the ANC’s 100th anniversary.

Ray Ndlovu

Ray Ndlovu

Ray Ndlovu has been a correspondent for the Mail & Guardian in Zimbabwe since 2009. His areas of interest include politics and business. With a BSc honours degree in journalism and media studies, Ray aspires to become a media mogul.   Read more from Ray Ndlovu

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