ZANU PF has blocked its officials from commenting on raging factionalism in the party ahead of a key politburo meeting tomorrow that is expected to tackle First Lady Grace Mugabe’s unrestrained attacks on Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
The indications are that some ruling party officials may not be so sure what to say as they are waiting to see which faction prevails.
Since her entry into politics, President Robert Mugabe’s wife has accused senior members, including Mujuru, of corruption, but there have been no response to her accusations.
Last Friday’s politburo meeting was scheduled to discuss Grace’s accusations until a power cut put paid to the discussion.
On Saturday, Mujuru was widely expected to hit back at Grace, but she simply said she was not involved in corruption.
Her supporters say this was a measured response, while her critics claim her failure to respond was an indication that she had been cornered.
At the weekend, State media claimed Mujuru was working with Americans in trying to topple Mugabe, but despite the seriousness of the allegations, Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo would not comment yesterday.
“I am not talking party or politburo issues with the media before the politburo meeting or outside the party or the politburo,” he said yesterday.
“This is my position and the position of the party.”
Gumbo’s colleague Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, a candidate for one of the vice-presidency posts, yesterday said he would not grant interviews until after the party’s December elective congress.
“I am no longer talking to you media people until after congress. You write lies,” he said.
This was after he was quizzed on why the reburial of 79 human remains found in a disused mine shaft in Old Mutare, where Mujuru was billed to officiate, had been cancelled at the last minute.
Mujuru’s sympathisers yesterday said they smelt a rat over the last minute cancellation of the function, saying it was a ploy to deny her an opportunity to respond to Grace’s stinging allegations.
“The reburial has been postponed due to logistical reasons to a new date that will be advised,” Mohadi told the State media.
This was due to be Mujuru’s second public appearance.
Last Saturday, she told Zanu PF supporters at her graduation party in Dotito that she was a victim of political persecution, adding that it was unfair for her detractors to label her a “sellout”, given the immense sacrifices she made to liberate the country during the armed struggle.
Although Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Christopher Mushohwe and Zanu PF provincial chairman John Mvundura could not be reached for comment, some senior party officials said they suspected the postponement of the programme was part of a plot to block Mujuru from addressing the public until after the Zanu PF elective congress in December.
“This is just the work of her detractors,” a Zanu PF central committee member, who requested anonymity, said.
“How can a programme be announced and the whole Vice-President of a country be invited, only to be told the Home Affairs ministry has issues.”
Another Mujuru ally who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “They said it’s a security issue because we understand there could be people hired to disrupt the proceedings.
“What’s happening in Zanu PF now is unpredictable, but it’s also clear that she was going to steal the limelight.
“However, what people do not realise is that there are cultural implications in all this because the Matumba community is made to keep those (fallen fighters’) remains for a long time. Culturally, it is improper.”
Mujuru’s spokesperson Sylvester Nguni could also not be reached for comment as he was reportedly attending a funeral in Mhondoro.