This comes amid reports that fierce wrangling has erupted in Zanu-PF ahead of its annual conference set for October, with the latest chapter in the dramatic factional battles playing out in the influential Women’s League.
Ructions have also been reported in the explosive Mashonaland West province where jostling for former chairperson Ziyambi Ziyambi’s position is underway.
Zanu-PF, always given to factional dissections, is currently divided between two main camps, one rallying behind its first secretary, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the other behind his highly ambitious deputy Constantino Chiwenga, whose presidential aspirations were laid bare by his estranged wife, Marry, in court last year.
In the Women’s League, the fiercest battle is being fought in Matabeleland North province where women have been holding meetings to position themselves for leadership posts in the league.
The factional divisions exploded into the public this week after a group of Matabeleland North Zanu-PF Women’s League members held two meetings on June 11 and 18 at York House in Bulawayo with the purpose of positioning each other for a restructuring exercise set for September.
The meetings were chaired by Sikhanyisiwe Mpofu, the wife of Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu.
A Zanu-PF internal source said the meetings in question was attended by quite a number of Women’s League members who call themselves “Team Number 2”.
The Team Number 2, according to the source, comprises Sikhanyisiwe Mpofu, Alice Dube from Tsholotsho, Molly Mkandla from Hwange, Veronica Munkuli from Binga, Elizabeth Masuku from Umguza, Sithandazile Moyo from Tsholotsho (acting youth chairman), Stars Mathe (Nkayi South MP) and Dora Msimanga (incoming provincial Women’s League chairlady).
Others include Sithembubuhle Sibanda from Lupane, Tryphine Khumalo from Lupane, Namatama Ncube from Hwange and Priscah Utete (Hwange district).
“These met ahead of the restructuring that is likely to take place in September. The meetings were chaired by Mpofu and the agenda was to allocate positions. Mpofu is tipped to take the position of deputy national secretary for women affairs to replace Angeline Masuku whom they say is now too old to hold a busy office. Elizabeth Masuku who is said to be graduating from the Youth League to the Women’s League was also promised to take a substantive post,” the source said.
“Dora Msimanga who is currently the vice-chair Women’s League is expected to replace Madeline Bhebhe who was not part of the meeting. The vice-chairwoman was expected to come from Hwange. This team calls themselves Team Number 2 for the reason best known to themselves. This has already divided the Women’s League in the province.”
Indications are that Mathe was not happy about the developments because she wanted to chair the meetings.
“Matabeleland North is a province known for being organised when it comes to factionalism but this time around things are not well. The province is divided. Tryphine Khumalo is expected to take over from Sithembubuhle Sibanda as secretary for administration (provincial) and Sithembubuhle was promised to be promoted to central committee replacing Mail Nkomo,” the source said.
But Mpofu has vehemently dismissed the claims as false.
“It’s all nonsense. I cannot comment on false claims, I don’t know anything about that,” she said.
Zanu-PF national deputy secretary for women’s affairs Angeline Masuku said she was not aware of the developments.
“First, I am in the Bulawayo province not in Umguza. Second, I am the national deputy secretary Women’s League and at the national office, that has not been reported.
That means it’s just for Matabeleland North province,” Masuku said.
Mathe said she was attending a meeting when contacted before promising to respond to questions two to three hours later. But when called later her mobile number was not reachable and she did not respond to questions sent to her mobile number.
Reports at the weekend also suggested that jockeying for provincial posts has reached fever pitch within the governing party in Mashonaland West, where the current Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Mary Mliswa-Chikoka has emerged as a front-runner.
The provincial leadership has since intervened and directed all prospective candidates to stop their political campaigns after aspiring candidates went into overdrive plotting victories in the impending internal elections.
Provincial youth chairperson Vengai Musengi and acting chairperson Abia Mujere are also vying for the highly influential position.