Zanu PF calls for emergency Politburo summit amid growing turmoil

The view of Harare from my room at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. The tall building to right (about 300 m away) is the headquarters of the ruling party, Zanu PF.

HARARE – The embattled ZANU PF party is holding its Politburo meeting tomorrow at its headquarters in Harare amid mounting crisis of internal strive that saw party Political Commissar Victor Matemadanda.

Deputy Minister for Defence and War Veterans Affairs Victor Matemadanda is out of danger after a health scare.

Matemadanda who was at some point last week hospitalised following a sudden illness has already returned to work.

In a statement, the party`s Acting Secretary for Information and Publicity Patrick Chinamasa urged members to be punctual.

“The Secretary for Administration Dr. Obert Mpofu wishes to advise all members that there shall be a Politburo meeting to be held on Wednesday 25 November 2020 at the home of the People`s Revolution ZANU PF Headquarters commencing 10:00 am,” reads the statement.

All members are expected to be seated by 09:45 am. A number of issues are expected to be addressed.

Some of the issues expected to be discussed are the District Coordinating Committee (DCC) election process which is currently underway in the remaining eight rural provinces.

The party has already put in place DCC structures in Harare and Bulawayo, with the restructuring of the two metropolitan provinces already underway.

DCCs were reintroduced after the party dissolved Harare and Bulawayo provincial party structures.

Matemadanda was taken ill after attending a Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial coordinating committee (PCC) meeting held in Marondera on November 13, sources said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his deputy Constantino Chiwenga and several other top ruling party officials attended the meeting.

Party insiders revealed that Matemadanda is suspected to have been poisoned at the function. He has been receiving treatment from his Mt Pleasant home in Harare after complaining of stomach pains and vomiting soon after the meeting.

The Zanu-PF commissar has not been seen in public since then, although the insiders said he was responding well to treatment. They, however, said he was still “not out of danger”.

“He is now better, but the situation was terrible,” the insider, who requested anonymity, said.

“I talked to him today (yesterday), he is now doing well.

“He was vomiting and complaining of severe stomach pains. I think it was food poisoning.”

Matemadanda, who is also the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association secretary-general, yesterday would neither confirm nor deny that he was unwell.

Matemadanda Survives Poisoning – ZimEye
Victor Matemadanda

He referred all questions to acting party spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa who he said “has all the details”.

“Cde Chinamasa has got the details,” Matemadanda said in a terse response.

Chinamasa was not picking calls, but he issued a statement late last night confirming that the Defence deputy minister “suddenly fell seriously ill” on November
14.

“Matemadanda’s sudden illness was accompanied by itchiness of the eyes, sweating profusely, swelling of the body and vomiting badly, resulting in him rushing for medical attendance,” he said.

Chinamasa said the war veterans’ leader was recovering with only itchiness in the eyes persisting. The Zanu-PF spokesperson told The Standard that he was not aware of the allegations that Matemadanda was poisoned.

He said only doctors could speak about the poisoning allegations after carrying out tests.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa refused to comment on Matemadanda’s alleged illness and poisoning, saying it was a personal matter that he alone could respond to.

“How am I supposed to know about someone’s personal health?

“I am a government spokesperson and how is that a government issue? Phone him and hear from him,” Mutsvangwa said.

Matemadanda has been traversing the length breadth of the country restructuring the ruling party that is in the process of conducting district coordinating committee (DCC) elections to reintroduce the controversial structures banned by the late former president Robert Mugabe in 2014 accusing them of fanning factionalism in the ruling party.

The position of Zanu-PF commissar has always been a contentious seat with history replete with cases of his predecessors dying in mysterious accidents during party restructuring exercises.

These include the late former Defence minister Moven Mahachi, Border Gezi and Elliot Manyika.

Cases of alleged poisoning in Zanu-PF top ranks have become common with Mnangagwa being one of the “victims” after he was taken ill during a rally in Gwanda in 2017
Mnangagwa suffered a “severe bout of abdominal discomfort, vomiting and diarrhoea”.

He was alleged to have eaten ice-cream from Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairies, a claim that further strained relations between Mnangagwa and the then-president.

Mnangagwa told a memorial service for Masvingo iron lady Shuvai Mahofa in 2017 that, just like she was poisoned at a Victoria Falls Zanu-PF meeting in 2015, he was also a victim of poisoning in Gwanda.

Mahofa, a close Mnangagwa ally, allegedly succumbed to poisoning in 2017.

Chiwenga also nearly died last year after he was allegedly poisoned.

The VP spent several months battling for his life in hospitals in South Africa, India and China.

After Chiwenga’s return, he made headlines for refusing to take food at Zanu-PF and government functions, let alone drinking water.