HARARE – Fresh factional fighting has broken out in President Robert Mugabe’s home province of Mashonaland West, with the regional women’s league moving to “dump” one of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s fiercest critics, Sarah Mahoka, over allegations of causing chaos in the ruling party.
So ugly have the ructions become that some of the Zanu PF women’s league members are apparently seeking audience with powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe to “get an explanation of Mahoka’s role and agenda” in the light of the ruling party’s deepening infighting.
On the other hand, well-placed Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that the vocal Mahoka remained “relaxed and defiant” about the noise surrounding her, with her backers accusing the provincial women’s league chairperson, Angeline Muchemeyi, whom she is suing for defamation, as leading the charge to have her expelled over her claimed close relationship with Grace.
On her part, Muchemeyi, who is said to be a Mnangagwa loyalist, told the Daily News that the party’s regional league was “not going to work with Mahoka” until such a time that they were advised by national league boss, Grace, on how to proceed on the impasse.
“We have made resolutions that we will not work with her until the first lady comes to address us. This is not our own decision but it is shared across the board.
“She (Mahoka) is a bad person. For now, we are waiting for the response from our boss as women. We wrote a letter to her secretary and we hope that when she returns (from her family’s Far East holiday) she will come to resolve the Mahoka issue.
“She should come and tell us whether to work with her or not. Personally, I don’t have anything against her, but that is the position that has been reached by the province as a whole,” Muchemeyi said.
Mahoka is said to belong to the Zanu PF faction that is made up of young party Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, which is fiercely opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
With Mahoka and Muchemeyi belonging to opposite Zanu PF camps, the two women have had several run-ins over the past few months.
At one time, Mahoka was accused by Muchemeyi of abusing church funds, allegations which she flatly dismissed. And in December last year, Mahoka slapped Muchemeyi with a $1 million lawsuit, accusing her of defamation.
Mahoka alleged then that Muchemeyi had falsely claimed that she was undermining Mnangagwa’s authority and that she embezzled money meant for the first lady’s rallies.
But Muchemeyi accused Mahoka of “listening to rumours” and defying the provincial executive yesterday.
“She clearly cannot work with others because she does not want to listen to us. Remember she once held a kangaroo meeting in a hotel that was attended by three people and passed a vote of no confidence in me.
“She is also lying that she has the blessings of Amai (Grace) in what she has been doing,” Muchemeyi told the Daily News.
Analysts have said the latest problems to engulf Mashonaland West province are part of Zanu PF’s continuing deadly tribal, factional and succession wars.
The G40 and the faction backing Mnangagwa, Team Lacoste, have been going at each other hammer and tongs, particularly since the release of images showing the Midlands godfather holding a coffee mug inscribed “I am the Boss” during a festive season gathering at his Zvishavane rural home.
Mnangagwa, who was pictured then with maverick businessman Energy Mutodi, has come under pressure from his party foes who allege that the Zvishavane meeting was organised to plot the ouster of Mugabe from power.
On Wednesday, a G40-linked group, comprising provincial chairpersons and regional commissars met at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare, issuing a statement in which they called for a probe into Mnangagwa for hobnobbing with war veterans’ leader Christopher Mutsvangwa and Mutodi.
But a defiant Mutodi hit back immediately, vowing not to hold back on his critical views regarding Zanu PF’s succession wars and rampant factionalism.
“I am not against Mugabe, and neither do I have any personal grudge with any Zanu PF official. However, I am suggesting that at the age of 94, Mugabe is good enough to remain as the party’s first secretary but not a candidate to run for office of president,” Mutodi told the Daily News.
“Secondly, even if Mugabe was to win the vote in 2018, there is no hope that the current economic hardships facing the nation will end as no investor would choose to invest in a country being led by a 94-year-old.
“All these people who are calling themselves provincial chairpersons know that they were not elected, but were rather imposed by the G40 faction. The elected Zanu PF chairpersons are being persecuted and accused of unfounded allegations.
“It’s a charade, a travesty. There is a lot of injustice in the party. There is regionalism, tribalism and endless factionalism. These are the signs of a failed leadership because they no longer can unite people. You are busy fomenting divisions so that you can go on and on without regard to the interests of the majority,” the unrepentant Mutodi added.
Mutodi also challenged Zanu PF’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who are alleged to be G40 kingpins, to present themselves as alternative party leaders.
“Some shallow minds are saying that by demanding leadership renewal, I am campaigning for Mnangagwa. This is a misconception. I am on record saying Mnangagwa is a potential successor due to his loyalty to Mugabe, his experience and his patience.
“However, anyone who feels is better and would want to compete with him is free to come forward and contest. . . .Moyo, . . . Kasukuwere or any other Zanu PF person is free to present themselves for election to decide who finally succeeds our long-serving president,” he said.
The musician-turned politician appeared to make things worse for Mnangagwa when he said earlier this week that Zanu PF should hold an extraordinary congress to install Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s successor.
Mutodi also claimed that Mugabe, who turns 93 next month, had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that “99 percent” of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way that the nonagenarian could win elections against popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.