HARARE – Zanu-PF is re-admitting without conditions and burying the hatchet with all its members who were turfed out of the party on accusations of belonging to the former liberation movement’s Generation 40 (G40) faction.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the party’s secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, pictured, said the unconditional re-admission of the vanquished G40s and other former members had the full backing of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The G40s, many of whom had sought to be re-admitted to the ruling party, were purged in the aftermath of the spectacular fall from power of the late former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, following a widely supported military coup.
At the height of the ruling party’s factional, tribal and succession fights, G40 members had aligned themselves to Mugabe and his erratic wife Grace – while the Lacoste faction backed Mnangagwa, who was then vice president.
Although Zanu-PF had recently appeared to extend an olive branch to remnants of the G40 faction, the ruling party’s commissariat and security departments had insisted on vetting these former members first, before their re-admission.
However, Mpofu has since moved to instruct party organs to speed up the process of re-integrating the G40 members.
All this comes as Zanu-PF bids to garner a party membership of at least five million ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
It also comes as there have been allegations that some party bigwigs are rabidly opposed to having the G40s back in the fold.
“We welcome all who want to join the party. How do you vet someone who wants to join the party?
“Party structures must welcome people who want to re-join in a manner that will not discourage them. We have communicated this to party structures.
“Even the president has said there is a need for the party to welcome those who want to come back and some of our former members who are re-joining the party,” Mpofu told the Daily News.
“It’s about growing the membership of the party and we will welcome all people who want to join Zanu-PF,” he added.
Mpofu also warned those in party structures against blocking the amnesty to the G40s and other former party members.
“We have seen in some cases where colleagues are trying to create difficult conditions for new members to come to the party.
“We are saying coming to the party is really something that is appreciated by the party and they must receive them in a friendly manner.
“The president himself has gone out of his way to receive new members. Why should an individual block others?
“Because you have a position in the branch, district, central committee or you are an MP you have to work for your position and not create an environment that will frighten others from joining the party,” Mpofu added.
Earlier, the Zanu-PF administration head had also told the information department that he had “piles of letters of applications from members who had left the party and wanted to rejoin”.
“I have told all the systems, all departments to receive them without referring them to other departments.
“Let’s receive all members who want to join the party without creating unnecessary obstacles which will not make us achieve the five million membership target.
“We welcome all those who want to work with us. We are appealing to all our structures throughout the country to receive those comrades who want to come back to the party without making it difficult for them to do so,” Mpofu said.
This comes as some former senior Zanu-PF officials – among them ex-ministers and former G40 kingpins – have been pushing to re-join the former liberation movement ahead of the 2023 polls.
Zanu-PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that some provincial structures were taking “a cautious approach” to these former members who wanted to come back, and were thus engaging in “strict security checks” for all of them.
“Some leaders in provinces fear for their positions because they know that the G40 have the capacity to dislodge them.
“So, they are trying very hard and using all means to block these members from coming back,” one well-placed source said.
Among the bigwigs believed to have recently applied for re-admission into Zanu-PF are former Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane, ex-Labour deputy minister Tapiwa Matangaidze, former Masvingo provincial political commissar Jeppy Jaboon, former Chiredzi West MP Darlington Chiwa and ex-Rushinga legislator Wonder Mashange.
This comes as Zanu-PF has also previously said that it wants to lure back many of its former big shots who were hounded out of the party in the twilight of Mugabe’s tenure in power.
Recently, Zanu-PF also appointed Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to lead a team to draft a broader mandate of its recently established elders’ advisory committee – whose job, among other things, is to lure back party bigwigs who had left since the ructions of 2014.
According to party insiders, some of the notable names being courted include former Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, as well as ex-ministers Dzikamai Mavhaire – who is now with the MDC Alliance – and Francis Nhema and Flora Bhuka.
They added that also on the party’s radar was former Mashonaland East Zanu-PF provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde.
Some of these bigwigs were booted out of both the government and Zanu-PF in the run-up to the sham December 2014 congress which sealed the fate of former vice president Joice Mujuru – who was sacked on false allegations of wanting to topple Mugabe from power.
Already, Zanu-PF has succeeded in luring back former National Patriotic Front (NPF) interim leader Ambrose Mutinhiri and its ex-secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa.
This also comes as Zanu-PF has also extended an olive branch to Mujuru and other former bigwigs such as Nicholas Goche – in a bid to heal growing rifts within the ruling party.
Mujuru was fired from Zanu-PF and the government in December 2014 by Mugabe, amid cruel claims of witchcraft, corruption and treasonous behaviour directed at the widow by the nonagenarian and Grace.
The brutal party wars were temporarily ended in dramatic fashion by the military, which rolled its tanks into Harare on November 15, 2017 – after deciding that it had had enough of Mugabe and Grace.
By then, the G40 faction had succeeded in having Mnangagwa sacked from both the government and Zanu-PF – just as they had done with Mujuru in 2014, when she, together with other bigwigs such as Mutasa and Gumbo, were jettisoned.
The vicious brawling took a nasty turn when Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his rivals during one of Grace’s high-octane youth interface rallies in Gwanda in 2017.
Mnangagwa’s fate was eventually sealed on November 6, 2017 when Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant a few days after his allies had booed the irascible Grace during a tense rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.