ZANU-PF’S vicious factional fights have degenerated into an unprecedented crisis that now threatens to create fresh headaches for President Robert Mugabe after looting allegations against Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo triggered a public storm, the Financial Gazette has reported.
President Mugabe is now torn between two warring factions, both battling to anoint a successor in the event that he relinquishes power. One faction, called Team Lacoste, is backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed the ZANU-PF leader, while the other camp, known as Generation 40 (G40), is trying to thwart Mnangagwa’s bid for power.
G40, which had hitherto succeeded in putting its rivals on the ropes, has not yet settled on a candidate to succeed the 92-year old leader, who has been in power since independence from colonial rule in 1980.
Indications are that tables have spectacularly turned against the G40 faction, which had an upper hand since a 2014 party congress that sacked former vice president Joice Mujuru from the party to make way for Mnangagwa.
The faction is now on the back foot, with its key members now targets of a spirited onslaught from Team Lacoste’s operatives who are determined to purge their rivals through an anti-corruption crusade.
Mnangagwa, who also doubles up as the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, is leading the campaign against corruption in government and has oversight over the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), which has been trying to arrest Moyo, thought to be the brains behind G40, over looting of the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) to fund ZANU-PF and his own personal political projects.
Zimdef was established by section 23 of the Manpower Planning and Development Act, 1984 (now revised Manpower Planning and Development Act Chapter 28:02 of 1996) with the objective of financing the development of critical and highly skilled manpower in Zimbabwe.
It is largely funded by a one percent training levy on the gross wage bill collected from employers.
The funds are entrusted in the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development as a Trustee. The chief executive officer of ZIMDEF administers the day-to-day operations of the fund.
The funds can be used for payment of tuition, boarding fees and wages of apprentices; payment of industrial attachment allowances to polytechnic students; and infrastructural development in tertiary institutions approved by the Ministry.
The offensive on Moyo, foiled after the intervention of Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, followed public censure of Saviour Kasukuwere, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, by President Mugabe over alleged corruption in the allocation of residential land meant for youths to his ruling party allies and cronies.
Kasukuwere, also the ruling party’s national political commissar and believed to be a key member of G40. He was instrumental in the purge of Mnangagwa’s allies from the party over allegations of indiscipline and plotting against President Mugabe.
Among the casualties were ZANU-PF youth leaders from across the country, Women’s League executives and war veterans’ leaders, one of whom was Christopher Mutsvangwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA).
As a result, ZNLWVA, which was an associate organ of ZANU-PF, has broken ranks with the party, causing more headaches for President Mugabe.
ZNLWVA’s members have been an integral part of President Mugabe’s election campaign machinery since the emergence of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai nearly two decades ago.
Kasukuwere admitted this week that he and his allies were now targets of a ferocious attack from Team Lacoste.
“I’m sure you can see for yourself the pattern (of victimisation against us),” he said when asked if indeed he felt targeted along with his allies.
He said he did not need “to explain anything”.
Moyo escaped arrest last week after ZACC investigators sought to take him into custody during a ZANU-PF Politburo meeting chaired by President Mugabe on Wednesday last week.
Reports suggest that President Mugabe, who immediately left for a working visit in the Far East soon after the Politburo meeting, intervened to stop the arrest.
Moyo is alleged to have illegally taken money from Zimdef to fund rallies held by the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, and the ZANU-PF Youth League’s million-man march.
He is also accused of abusing the fund to finance projects in his Tsholotsho North constituency.
While Moyo appears to have acknowledged use of Zimdef funds for political purposes, he has suggested that those targeting him were guilty of the worst acts of corruption.
In a veiled attack on Mnangagwa, Moyo said on his twitter account: “You can say what you want, but I would rather be a Robin Hood than a cruel tribalist, murderer and UN identified cross border diamond thief!
“The state of underdevelopment in Tsholotsho is such that bicycles are a necessity just like matches! It is criminal to claim that a decision by the Zimdef Trustee, me, to fund computers and bicycles requested by Tsholotsho RDC (rural district council) is corruption!”
Mnangagwa was named in a United Nations report on the plunder of diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo during Zimbabwe’s intervention in the central African country to save the late Laurent Desire Kabila’s government from an insurgency.
Apparently, there have been growing calls for the arrest of Moyo over the Zimdef issue, but analysts said this was unlikely to happen, as President Mugabe was likely to protect him.
Rashweat Mukundu, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said Moyo’s future would largely dependent on President Mugabe perception of his usefulness in the party.
“This goes for all in ZANU-PF. As long as President Mugabe sees him as a useful tool, then he is very safe,” said Mukundu.
Shepherd Mpofu, an academic at a South African university, said: “Moyo still has a future (in ZANU-PF). He is like everyone else around.”
Piers Pigou, a director with the International Crisis Group, Southern Africa, said: “This is not necessarily the endgame for Moyo. It depends on what protection he can find for himself. But he appears more vulnerable than before.”