Jostling for the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Ben Mahofa’s post has escalated barely two weeks after the controversial politician’s death.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE/EVERSON MUSHAVA
A faction linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa known as Team Lacoste is said to be locked in a fierce tussle with the G40 group that enjoys first lady Grace Mugabe’s support.
Zanu PF sources claimed Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe, a Mnangagwa sympathiser, was canvassing for the seat.
Zanu PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke (Gutu Central MP), Clemence Makwarimba (Senator) and Edmund Mhere (Masvingo Central MP) are said to be some members from the Mnangagwa faction being linked to the post.
Hungwe stood in for Mahofa during the Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day commemorations just before the minister’s death.
He praised Matuke, Makwarimba and Mhere, saying if he was the Biblical King Solomon — with all the extraordinary wisdom — he would have chosen them to help him rule the people.
“In his pitching for Mahofa to be national heroine in last week’s Cabinet meeting, Hungwe uncharacteristically disclosed that Misheck Sibanda [chief secretary in the Cabinet] appointed him to officiate on behalf of the late Mahofa at the Heroes commemorations,” a source said.
“The president [Robert Mugabe] had asked him to explain who authorised him to stand in for Mahoka.
“The president just looked at both Hungwe and Sibanda, much to the discomfort of Sibanda.
“But it was clear Hungwe wanted to usurp the powers to keep the province under a Lacoste leader.”
The source added: “If he fails to take over, he will lobby for Matuke, Makwarimba or Mhere.
Hungwe was not picking calls yesterday, but denied the plot when asked by a Masvingo weekly paper TellZim.
“Of course I am the most senior Zanu PF member in Masvingo province, but I am not the acting minister of state,” he was quoted as saying.
“President Mugabe is the one who will appoint an acting or substantive minister.
“I have heard a lot of talk about me being the acting minister since Shuvai Mahofa died but, please, I am not.”
G40 is said to be also lobbying for its candidates to wrest the province from Team Lacoste.
They are lobbying for Masvingo Urban MP Daniel Shumba or Bikita South MP Jeppy Jaboon to take over.
Tourism minister Walter Mzembi denied allegations he was pushing for a G4O member to be appointed.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said, before terminating the call. – The Standard