ZANU PF politburo member Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife Auxilia and four of her colleagues have upped the ante in the internal Zanu PF battle to control the Midlands by launching a whopping $50 million defamation claim against the party’s chairperson and Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya, his chief election agent Douglas Kanengoni and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti as factionalism erupts into the open in the province.
The litigation is over Machaya’s election agent Kanengoni’s document compiled after the party’s Midlands provincial elections accusing Auxilia, former provincial chairperson July Moyo, Zhombe MP Mackenzie Ncube, Douglas Tapfuma and Owen Ncube of vote-buying, rigging, fraud, lying, deceit and hypocrisy during the electoral process.
Machaya retained the provincial chairmanship after defeating Larry Mavhima, who was reportedly being backed by the Mnangagwa group.
Mnangagwa, Tapfuma, Moyo, Mackenzie and Owen Ncube are each demanding $10 million from Machaya over the letter authored by Kanengoni.
In a letter of demand dated November 5 written by the five’s lawyer Valentine Mutatu, (Ref VM/327/9ec), Auxilia and her colleagues say the allegations made by Kanengoni were recklessly defamatory and threatened their political careers.
“The contents of the document are malicious and false and bent on destroying the political life of our clients. When it (Kanengoni’s letter) was presented to Bhasikiti, he proceeded to act on the basis of that document and excluded or suspended our clients from supervising or participating in any form in the electoral process,” reads part of the letter of demand served on Machaya by the Messenger of Court on November 6.
Bhasikiti was in charge of the elections as the Zanu PF team leader.
Mutate indicated that his clients had decided to go that extra mile and actually file a lawsuit because Kanengoni’s letter, which was approved by Machaya before being sent out, had the net effect of painting his clients as dishonest people bent on rigging elections.
“As a result of the false and malicious disinformation contained in the document, which was understood to mean that our clients are dishonest and are bent on rigging elections, our clients suffered damages,” wrote Mutatu.
Insiders said the lawsuit was likely to widen the rift between the two warring factions in Zanu PF jostling to succeed President Robert Mugabe both as party leader and head of State.
“This lawsuit will bring turmoil in the party because now camps are out in the open and attacking each other in public courts and will expose dark secrets of the Zanu PF rigging machinery which will not be good public relations for the party,” said a senior member of the party in the Midlands who requested anonymity.