A BELATED 21st Movement gala to celebrate President Mugabe’s 90th birthday that was scheduled for Masvingo on Friday night had to be cancelled at the 11th hour amid revelations it became a victim of Zanu PF infighting.
The all-night gig scheduled for Mucheke Stadium had been expected to feature several top artistes.
Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo had been billed to be the guest of honour.
However, the event was called off hours before it was scheduled to start on Friday with the official explanation being that the cancellation was made to show sympathy to people displaced by floods at the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam basin.
Sources insisted that warring Zanu PF factions in Masvingo province sabotaged the event.
“After getting donations from companies and well-wishers, we were told that the gala was cancelled from Harare with no reasons being given,” a Zanu PF insider said.
“But we took that with a pinch of salt and upon enquiries, we were told that the gala was stopped by a rival faction as it would have legitimised the current provincial executive whose election was contested.”
The Masvingo provincial leadership is allegedly sympathetic to Vice-President Joice Mujuru, while the former executive was allegedly aligned to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Although the two deny leading factions, they are said to be in a subtle, but vigorous battle to strategically position themselves to take over from Mugabe when he decides to step down.
Ailes Baloyi who lost the elections for provincial chairperson to Killian Gwanetsa last year, has vowed never to recognise the new executive.
The elections were marred by accusations of fraud and violence.
Gwanetsa dismissed claims that Mugabe’s gala was cancelled because of factionalism.
“There is nothing like that. That is not the reason. We will let you know when the celebrations will be held,” he said.
“We cancelled the gala and it has been postponed to a later date after considerations were raised about the plight of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam flood victims.
“We could not be celebrating while those people need help and are facing difficulties.”
About 4 000 households were evacuated from the dam flood basin and moved to the crammed Chingwizi holding camp in Mwenezi where they are facing food shortages.
Most of the villagers sleep in the open and there is poor sanitation at the camp leading to fears of a cholera outbreak.
Mugabe turned 90 on February 21. The 21st February Movement held lavish celebrations in Marondera when the flood disaster was unfolding.
Civil servants bosses and security chiefs have held celebrations across the country, including Masvingo, for the long time ruler.