HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has pleaded with warring Zanu PF bigwigs to stop staging demonstrations against each other and ventilating their grievances through State media which he accused of acting like the opposition.
Mugabe said this after angry Zanu PF supporters held demonstrations in Bindura and in Gweru yesterday, where they pushed for the expulsion of the party’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and two ministers, as the infighting in the former liberation movement reaches a crescendo.
There were clashes between Kasukuwere’s sympathisers and hundreds of irate Zanu PF followers in the Bindura march, with scores of pro-Kasukuwere youths, including their provincial chairperson Isaiah Karina, arrested for allegedly trying to stop the demonstration.
The demonstrators who toyi-toyed from Chipadze Stadium to the party offices at the Bindura showgrounds were demanding, among other things, that the party recalls Kasukuwere on bizarre charges of attempting to unseat Mugabe through unconstitutional means.
Addressing the placard-waving crowd, speaker after speaker, including the Zanu PF provincial secretary for health, Jona Ngwenya, slammed Kasukuwere and his brother Dickson Mafios for allegedly treating the party like a family tuck shop.
After the demonstration, the protesters handed a petition to Martin Mavhangira, who is a member of the Zanu PF central committee, for onward transmission to Mugabe, demanding that the nonagenarian fires Kasukuwere from the troubled party.
Speaking to the media after the demonstration, Mavhangira accused Kasukuwere and Mafios, who is the Zanu PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland Central, of behaving like bullies.
“They never listen to anybody and any attempt at challenging them will result in expulsion. I have been tasked by the province to take the petition to the president on Wednesday and we are going to do just that,” he said.
In the Midlands, supporters converged at the party’s provincial headquarters in Gweru where they demanded the expulsion of deputy minister of Tourism Anastancia Ndhlovu and provincial affairs minister Jason Machaya.
They also denounced businesswoman and Zanu PF supporter, Smelly Dube, for allegedly sowing divisions among senior officials in the women’s league.
Yesterday’s demonstrations come as the warring ruling party holds two crucial meetings this week, which could determine the fate of some top party officials — as the former liberation movement's mindless bloodletting continues unabated.
Sources said the demonstrations have given this week's politburo and central committee gatherings, on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, even more importance, as all the seemingly intractable problems devouring the party will be ventilated rigorously then.
Analysts have also warned that the latest turmoil in Zanu PF could lead to the party’s implosion ahead of the watershed 2018 polls.
“Even if Kasukuwere falls by the wayside, the only way to put an end to these factional fights is to resolve the Mugabe succession issue.
"If that is not resolved, other factions will sprout overnight and the vicious infighting that uses the law of the jungle to settle political scores will continue,” political analyst Dewa Mavhinga told the Daily News.
“When Mai Mujuru was booted out of Zanu PF without due process, people like Kasukuwere cheered on and did not speak out, and today he is on the receiving end of a patently unfair process.
"Tomorrow, victims of the same process maybe those dancing today and calling for Kasukuwere to be expelled. If the ruling party does not respect the rule of law for its cadres, what more within the government?” he added.
Meanwhile, speaking at the State House where he received belated birthday gifts, Mugabe said his party had internal structures through which members could deal with party officials deemed to be out of order.
According to the ZBC, Mugabe said although he was not defending Kasukuwere, the method of using demonstrations was "primitive".
“. . . Mugabe says there is need to follow party structures and hierarchy without going to the press or engaging in demonstrations.
“Addressing Cabinet ministers at the presentation ceremony president Mugabe said taking issues to the media and public demonstrations are not the way to solve issues in the party and to discipline party members” the ZBC said.