ZANU PF yesterday said the posts of second vice-president and national chairperson will be filled at congress, opening the floodgates for those seeking to challenge Simon Khaya Moyo in December.
The debate on the late John Nkomo’s successor gained momentum this week with former senior Zapu officials literally drawing battle lines.
Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs minister Abednico Ncube drew the ire of his peers at the weekend when he declared that Khaya Moyo was the automatic choice for the post.
A group of ex-Zapu leaders from the province led by one-time VP hopeful Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu accused Ncube of jumping the gun saying a decision would only be made at congress.
Seemingly fighting in their corner, Zanu PF national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday told Southern Eye the two posts were all up for grabs.
But he was quick to urge party members to desist from campaigning until after the party had announced a clear policy on who qualified for the two lofty positions. Gumbo also warned party members against declaring their preferred candidates in the media on the strength of the Unity Accord.
Matabeleland South party spokesperson Jabulani Petshu Sibanda as well as Transport minister Obert Mpofu have all declared that Khaya Moyo was their choice for the vice-presidency.
Sibanda went further to urge ex-Zapu members to canvass for the Zanu PF national chairmanship because “a precedent was set after the death of the late VP and Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo since the 1987 Unity Accord”.
The post of chairperson has been held by former Zapu cadrés since 1987.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, who is reportedly vying for the post, has said the post is not the preserve of ex-Zapu members.
Ex-Zapu secretary-general Cephas Msipa has also backed Mutasa saying despite the precedence, there was no agreement reserving the post for ex-Zapu members.
Gumbo said that there was no agreement on the issue of the chairmanship and it was up to congress to decide who occupied which position.
“According to the Unity Accord, the VP position has always been reserved for ex-Zapu members,” he said in an interview.
“The post of national chairman has also been occupied by ex-Zapu members, but not that it is reserved for them.
“Precedence was set, but now whether that precedence will continue is up for debate at the congress,” Gumbo added.
“As such, party members cannot campaign when the party position is not clear.
“You only campaign when the party has come out clearly with a clear position on the post of VP and chairperson. I don’t think it’s wise for anyone to campaign now. People who want those positions should wait for the position to be clearly laid out.
“You cannot stop people from going to the press to say so and so should be the VP or chairperson, but all I am saying now is that I don’t think it’s fair to do so.
“It’s premature to do so because we have no clear position on that. There are many people who are interested in those positions and it is not fair to then deny them that right by going to the press to say they do not qualify because of the Unity Accord or a set precedence.”
Ex-Zipra commander Ambrose Mutinhiri and former Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa Phelekezela Mphoko are some of the ex-Zapu members who are reportedly interested in the VP post.
Zanu PF Matabeleland North chairperson Richard Moyo said his province was yet to make a decision on who should assume the post of VP and chairperson.
“We have no position as yet. We have not met to discuss on who should assume what position at the congress,” he said.
“We will be meeting soon as the provincial co-ordinating committee and that is when we will have a position.”
Moyo refused to be drawn into commenting on the issue of the set precedence.
“That position has to be a collective. I cannot say so and so should occupy this and that position because it is not my decision to make. We will meet and discuss as a province,” he said.
Nkomo succeeded the late Joseph Msika who had taken over from the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.
The sharing of posts between former Zapu cadrés and the old Zanu PF has always been a touchy issue.