ZANU PF infighting is taking a new twist amid revelations party hawks have sharpened their daggers against Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa whom they accuse of conniving with President Robert Mugabe to deny them influential party and government appointments.
Sources close to the developments said a “gang of four” comprising Information minister Jonathan Moyo , Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Oppah Muchinguri and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao had reportedly turned their swords against the freshly-minted acting president.
The four, who played a crucial role in the ouster of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, are now reportedly accusing Mnangagwa of letting them down by giving them less influential party and Cabinet positions.
After successfully soliciting the services of First Lady Grace Mugabe to elbow out Mujuru, the four had reportedly drafted an ambitious list of the people they wanted to be given key positions in politburo.
But Mugabe reportedly came up with his own set-up, which was completely different, triggering a fresh wave of intra-party fighting, as the four now accuse Mnangagwa of sabotaging them after playing a crucial role in the ouster of Mujuru.
“The team of four had proposed line-ups which they wanted Mugabe to consider during the appointments, yet the president had his own criteria of appointing officials,” the source said.
Moyo was appointed secretary of science and technology, Muchinguri, secretary for transport, Zhuwao got a deputy secretary post, while Kasukuwere bagged the influential commissariat secretary.
However, sources said Moyo was reportedly eyeing to replace ousted spokesman Rugare Gumbo; Muchinguri eyed ousted secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa’s post; while Zhuwao wanted an elevation to remain in the politburo and a ministerial post.
“The gang thought that by teaming up with Grace, Mugabe would give them an edge ahead of everyone else, but the ageing leader played his cards close to his chest and in the process, disappointed many people,” the source said.
Zhuwao yesterday described as “hogwash and nonsensical” allegations that the team was working on Mnangagwa’s fall.
He said he had not anticipated a politburo position ahead of many senior Zanu PF members.
Zhuwao said the four respected Mnangagwa and Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s appointments by Mugabe.
“Those who seek to appropriate any of our leaders are very wrong,” he said.
“Such thoughts are driven by people without substance.
“VP Mnangagwa and Mphoko are national leaders.
“They are experienced and principled and have impeccable credentials.”
Moyo, Kasukuwere, and Muchinguri could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A close Mnangagwa ally said Mugabe had not consulted the vice-president ahead of appointments.
“What these people do not know is that the appointments were done unilaterally by Mugabe who did not even consult Mnangagwa,” he said.
“They thought he (Mnangagwa) would push for their appointments both in the party and in the government, but he had no chance to do so, in fact he was also appointed like them.”
As the infighting goes into full swing, the State media, which was used by Moyo in the run up to the congress to attack Mujuru and all the party hawks perceived to be sympathetic to her, has already launched unrestrained attacks on Mnangagwa.
At the weekend, a shadowy character Bishop Lazarus attacked Mnangagwa for holding business meetings at his Kwekwe farm and insinuated that he was plotting against Mugabe.
The attack followed other attacks on Zanu PF production secretary in the politburo Josiah Hungwe and Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Faber Chidarikire for hero-worshiping Mnangagwa at gatherings to celebrate his appointment.
The four were reportedly unhappy with the centralisation of power on Mnangagwa, who is also Justice minister, takes party chairmanship on rotational bases and is reported to be in charge of security.
With all the portfolios, they think Mnangagwa was poised to take over from Mugabe.
Moyo and Zhuwao recently said Mnangagwa’s appointment as vice-president did not mean he would automatically take over from Mugabe.
Analysts said this could be interpreted to show the two’s distaste for Mnangagwa.
“Infighting will not end with the exit of Mujuru’s faction, as the winning faction (Mnangagwa’s faction) is now up against each other for the spoils of the victory,” the source added.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said factionalism is far from being over and will get nastier towards the 2018 elections.
“Prior to the congress there was a coalition of factions to deal with Mujuru,” he opined.
“What we are witnessing now is a fight on sharing of the spoils.
“It is unfortunate that Mnangagwa does not control the media, so he is being attacked without responding.”