Anti-Mugabe SMS Messages At ZANU PF Congress

This is Harare International Conference Centre, where the ZANU PF Congress is being held and from where SMS messages critical of the way the party is being led are said to be coming. They are being sent indiscriminately and prompted ZANU PF to use State Television last night to dismiss them as propaganda from infiltrators and opposition moles. The culprits are almost certain to vanish into thin air and not make any moves at Congress to field candidates from the floor, as had been plotted before Basil Nyabdza resigned as Manicaland Province Chairman.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 10 December 2009

A ZANU PF spokesman, Ephraim Masawi, has dismissed and played down SMS messages he says are "purporting" to be from the Youth League "about the proceedings" at the ZANU PF Congress now under way.

The SMS are said to be telling people that the party has been hijacked from the people and they must use the floor to take it back, a reference to plots by disgruntled Provincial delegates to nominate rival candidates to party choices for Chairman and Vice President.

The SMS messages were coming against the background of the resignation of the most vocal critic of the ZANU PF leadership choices, Basil Nyabadza, the Manicaland Province Chairman for ZANU PF.

Backing him up, allegedly, is a losing candidate for Harare Province Chairman, Hubert Nyanhongo, a wealthy businessman who runs a fuel company in Zimbabwe, amongst other ventures. He is ZANU PF's only MP in Harare and feels this should have guaranteed the Chairmanship of the Province. But the Politburo of ZANU PF endorsed the election of his ruival, Amos Midzi instead.

ZANU PF now say that these messages are being spread by opposition propagandists in order to disrupt the Congress and cause division.

They refuse to accept that there is an internal problem. But look at it another way and it makes sense. By using State television to publicly label the rebels stooges of the opposition and "infiltrators", the party is essentially expelling them if their identities should be known and they are confirmed as ZANU PF members.

This means that the campaign remains secret and never rears its head during the proceedings themselves, thereby lending credence to the propaganda that the information was coming from infiltrators. If not, ZANU PF wants to be able to ask, why did the members not show themselves during proceedings.

We have had this before, including the rumblings at the December 2007 Congress, during which Simba Makoni was going to stand for the leadership of the party against Mugabe. But John Nkomo, the National Chairman then (he is now confirmed as Vice-President), stood up in the hall and declared that the presidium was not open to elections. He insisted that the delegates were there "to endorse Comrade Mugabe and the Presidium" in their positions.

With War Veterans menacingly looking about for any dissenters, no one dared raise a voice.

The same thing will be repeated this year.

The media in Zimbabwe is easily taken in by juicy stories of these factions within ZANU PF, but they ignore all evidence that Mugabe himself remains largely untouchable. If he feels so strongly about something, his party will carry it out, no matter what the consequences (witness land invasions).

All the factions remain beholden to Mugabe for patronage and continued protection from the other factions. He holds them together and they would not seriously think of going head to head with him. He will, as they in ZANU PF, go when he is good and ready.

That may be never, with War Veterans only last week calling for Mugabe to rule Zimbabwe "forever and ever".


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