HARARE – The embattled Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has gone on leave until 5 February.
His Deputy Constantino Chiwenga will be acting president.
Tensions has gripped Mnangagwa’s home province of the Midlands, with security reportedly on high alert ahead of Zanu PF provincial elections that were moved to this weekend following violent clashes allegedly instigated by former State Security minister Owen Ncube.
The sacked Security Minister has told colleagues he will launch his fight-back using “all resources available”.
Mnangagwa went on leave from yesterday.
His spopkesman George Charamba said Mnangagwa will spend his leave in the country, mostly at his farm.
Ncube, a known key ally of Mnangagwa, reportedly bussed machete-wielding gangs to last weekend’s meeting to fill the provincial posts.
The gangs threatened to chop critics, forcing the elections to be aborted.
Mnangagwa later dismissed Ncube from his ministerial post.
There has been simmering tension in Midlands as the fight by rival factions turned bloody.
Sources close to Ncube told the media this week that they will “wait and see” what will happen, while his rivals celebrated his “demise” as they positioned themselves to take over influential posts he had allegedly dished to his allies and relatives.
One of the rival camps linked to party district co-ordinating committee member Andros Mugabe openly celebrated Ncube’s fall and called for disciplinary action and disqualification of his nephew, Energy Ncube, from contesting in the March by-elections.
The rival group accused Ncube of seeking to impose his nephew to stand for Zanu PF in a fight to replace the late Kwekwe Central MP Masango Matambanadzo.
Zanu PF Midlands provincial chairman Larry Mavima, who was reportedly imposed by Mnangagwa to avert a potentially explosive battle between Ncube and former chairman Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, yesterday warned all “misfits” that they would be dealt with decisively.
Mavima confirmed that elections for the remaining posts would be concluded this weekend and described the atmosphere as calm and stable.
“The atmosphere is calm, stable and we will continue with the conclusion of the elections this weekend and we believe that we have reached a position where there will be no violence or intimidation of any nature,” Mavima said.
“I am very confident that we will have a successful conclusion of the process and that from now on, we will work together as a united province.”
On violence and intimidation, Mavima said: “I want to be very clear to all those misfits that do believe they can threaten people, they can intimidate people, that the full force of the law will deal with them.
“Zimbabwe is a peaceful country. The Midlands is a peaceful province and the President is always talking about peace and calm, loving one another. If anyone ever thinks that they are above the law, we will deal with them and we will deal with them effectively.
“We are not going to tolerate any nonsense whatsoever. The party is supreme anyone who goes against the principles of the party, we will deal with them.”
Zanu PF is deeply divided across provinces, and the divisions were worsened by the disputed provincial polls that were marred by reports of rigging and violence.
Allegations of rigging have also been raised in Matabeleland North province, where officials have accused a camp aligned to Richard Moyo of manipulating the votes against Believe Gaule.
Senior party officials in the province says the rigging was unfortunate and a disaster for Zanu PF. “The rigging started in the district elections,” a senior party official said.
There were also complaints in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and several other provinces, with observers saying the developments were confirmation that Zanu PF remained deeply divided.