Zanu PF’s factional wars have spread to Mashonaland East where provincial chairperson Joel Biggie Matiza Saturday survived a plot to topple him, amid allegations he is being victimised for supporting Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
According to the Standard on Sunday, a faction linked to First Lady Grace Mugabe known as Generation 40 (G40), is accused of trying to rid Zanu PF structures of Mnangagwa’s sympathisers in the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The plot to oust Matiza — who replaced Ray Kaukonde during purges of officials linked to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru — was allegedly executed at 2am.
However, Matiza turned the tables hours later after convening his own meeting of the provincial executive that fired a rival group, including recently-elected MP Lawrence Katsiru.
Grace’s name was mentioned as one of the reasons for the shake-up.
“The members are being accused of misusing the names of senior Zanu PF party members, including the First Family in pursuit of their sinister agenda of causing mayhem, confusion ahead of 2018 elections,” said Matiza.
“During their nocturnal quest for signatures to satisfy their alleged vote-of-no-confidence agenda, the members threatened that they were sent by Dr Amai Grace Mugabe, which was coercive and led to other members in Chikomba to sign because of fear to conflict with the First Family.
“This was a breach of the party’s constitution Article 3 Section 5.”
Among those fired were Bernard Makokove (vice-chair), Katsiru (secretary for administration), Cainos Ngoshi (deputy-secretary for administration) and Malvin Matimura (secretary for disabled and disadvantaged).
Goromonzi West MP, Beater Nyamupinga and her Goromonzi South counterpart Petronella Kagonye were sacked from the women’s league.
Provincial women’s league secretary for administration, Charity Manyeruke castigated party members that were allegedly abusing Grace’s name and said the First Lady was not even aware of the issue.
Party stalwart and war veteran Phillimon Mutongi blasted Makokove and his team for “using darkness” to achieve their goals.
“This is not how Zanu PF party members behave, why are they doing things at midnight?” said Mutongi.
Matiza, the former Provincial Affairs minister, reportedly has the backing of airforce chief Perrence Shiri, who, according to sources, read the riot act to Zanu PF’s Mashonaland East leadership a week ago.
Matiza’s ouster is allegedly being plotted by Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa with the support of party political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
Insiders told The Standard that the duo were behind the still-born no confidence vote, but had been pegged back after Shiri entered the fray and told them off.
“Shiri is originally from Mashonaland East and while they have ethnic political fights within Zanu PF, they have taken a regional twist in the province,” the source said.
“There are officials who want to appear as if they want to strengthen the First Lady’s hand by seemingly supporting candidates from her home district of Chikomba.
“They wanted to replace Matiza with Edgar Mbwembwe, but the bigger issue is that they believe the provincial chairman is a protégé of Mnangagwa.
“It is a fight against Mnangagwa and veneered to appear as if this translates to support for Grace, but no. It is the G40 group”.
Matiza was initially kicked out along with youth chairperson Kelvin Mutsvairo, Hebert Shumbamhini, Tendai Mangwiro, Apolonia Munzverengi (chairperson women’s league) and her deputy Leany Gororo.
They are accused of undermining Provincial Affairs minister Ambrose Mutinhiri and “running the party like a private company”, according to Ngoshi.
“The charges for a no confidence vote are done unilaterally without consulting and informing the province, destroying confirmed party structures and setting up a parallel party structures in the province,” said Ngoshi.
Mutinhiri, Parirenyatwa and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi have previously been linked to a group of Zanu PF cadres reportedly loyal to Mujuru.
Parirenyatwa seemed to have been taken aback by reports linking him to the “coup” against Matiza.
“When did I do that? Never, Biggie Matiza is our chairman and I am a politburo member. I think someone is after me. Where is this coming from?” he asked.
Makokove had been appointed acting chairperson, but only for a few hours.
Matiza was elected about two months ago before Mugabe removed him as Provincial Affairs minister in a Cabinet reshuffle.