The Extent Of ZANU PF Revolt In Manicaland

Patrick Chinamasa, seen here arriving to present the Budget that dollarised Zimbabwe's economy on 29 January 2009, is one of two senior ministers from Manicaland who are unhappy that the politics of tribal balance have kept the people from that Province from the top leadership of ZANU PF. There is now open rebellion in the province, with the leadership there convinced that Mugabe has something against people from the area. Hence those anti-Mugabe SMS messages at the last ZANU PF Congress in Harare.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 05 January 2010

You all know about the Manicaland Province Chairman for ZANU PF, Basil Nyabadza, who was forced out of his job by the ZANU PF leadership, ostensibly for threatening to nominate Didymus Mutasa for National Chairman from the floor at the December ZANU PF Congress.

Mugabe has previously and publicly (during the last election) stated that the Manicaland province is a reactionary and rebellious province that has thrown up "traitors" like Tekere, Makoni, Ndabaningi Sithole and so on. Back then, Mugabe said "someone" had asked him what was "wrong with Manicaland". 

Makoni replied Mugabe at Sakubva Stadium during his own presidential campaign by telling the crowd that Manicaland people were clever, more in touch with the people and principled and that this was why Mugabe was getting headaches from them: they were not sheep who follow blindly.

But I digress.

It now emerges that the problems Mugabe faces in Manicaland are by no means just restricted to Nyabadza. The two ring leaders of a quiet rebellion within ZANU PF in that province are Didymus Mutasa and Patrick Chinamasa. They are the ones who have been egging on their executive and pushing them to flout rules and regulations at will.

Mugabe personally summoned Didymus Mutasa (as "an elder, I am told), late last year after Gideon Gono was co-opted into the structures of the Manicaland Province executive for ZANU PF. He had been made Finance Secretary, much to Mugabe's displeasure.

It was after the dressing down that Mutasa got from Mugabe over the issue of Gono that tensions really rose. Mugabe accused Mutasa to his face of having looked the other way while "your province embarrasses us."

Mutasa initially denied all involvement in the decision, but Mugabe turned it around on him and told him that he was the most senior ZANU PF person in the province and that it was his job to ensure that the party did not lose face. Mugabe's insinuation was that Mutasa was either sleeping on the job or had sanctioned the move personally, which would have been worse.

It was after Mugabe dressed down Mutasa that the Manicaland province announced that it was withdrawing its nomination of Gono to the Finance position, saying the province was "loyal" to the wishes of "the national leadership."

No sooner had this incident been dealt with than the province threw in another spanner into the works by pushing for the abandonment of the tradition of reserving ZANU PF national chairmanship for people from the former ZAPU party led by Dr Joshua Nkomo, also known as Father Zimbabwe.

All of this is part of a well-organised rebellion against Mugabe and his presumed heir, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mutasa, especially (and Chinamasa, to a lesser extent), sees the Zimbabwe Defence Minister whom Mugabe now openly favours to take over from him as a junior (Mutasa is on record as referring to Mnangagwa as Mugabe's "bag-boy"). But the Zimbabwe president's party appears to have accepted that Mnangagwa is next in line.

What is happening now is that there is jostling for positions below the presidency of ZANU PF.

The Chairmanship is a plum position within the party, because it wields enormous power over party cadres in Zimbabwe's ruling party.

Most of this is of Mugabe's own making. The man has played tribal politics from word go. The late Joshua Nkomo is also on record as saying that, when Mugabe and his friends broke away from ZAPU to form ZANU way before independence, Mugabe, who was then Secretary for Information and Publicity for Joshua Nkomo, wrote to members telling them that they had to get rid of "ZimuNdebele", meaning Joshua Nkomo, who was president of ZAPU.

When he eventually took over the leadership of ZANU PF, tribal politics also took centre stage and there was infighting (some of it fatal) in the ZANU leadership as a result.

As Prime Minister and then as President, Mugabe has also played up tribal politics, making appointments into his cabinet on the basis of trying to achieve "tribal balance" rather than competency.

So, Mugabe bred this animal and now it is causing havoc in his political garden.

Mutasa and Chinamasa are absolutely bent on ensuring that there is someone from Manicaland at the top of the party. Mnangagwa's virtual seal of approval from Mugabe means that they now know there is no one from Manicaland who will be the next president of ZANU PF or Zimbabwe, for that matter (from within ZANU PF). Hence the ferocity of the fight for lesser but prominent positions.

This also explains why Mutasa has defied Mugabe and the politburo of ZANU PF and says he is not in a hurry to have a new Chairman for ZANU PF's Manicaland Province. He is, basically, sulking. And re-strategising.

He and Chinamasa want to make sure Nyabadza comes back or that they have put in someone they can control.

There has been talk that Nyabadza was forced out after the incident at the funeral of Didymus Mutasa's son late last year. What gave rise to this was Nyabadza's behaviour towards Simba Makoni at the funeral. When introductions were made and dignitaries present were announced, Simba Makoni was not mentioned.

Nyabadza then stood up to speak and said that there had been an oversight on the part of those making introductions. There was another dignitary present, said, who was a brother: Simba Makoni.

Those who were present will tell you that the applause that accompanied that announcement was absolutely deafening. So unusual was it that I got a call that evening from someone in Harare who was asking if it was true that Makoni had got the loudest applause at the funeral!! (And this was ZANU PF insider!)

But this is mere conjecture: Nyabadza was most certainly made a sacrificial lamb at the altar of the ambitions of Mutasa and Chinamasa. This is what he paying for.

There are currently moves to rehabilitate him, with "letters" being written to the State media asking him to "reconsider" his resignation and bemoaning the fact that the party has lost a hardworking cadre in Manicaland.

It is very unlikely that Mugabe will listen, because he is now aware of the extent of the simmering rebellion against him in the province. He is said to be even convinced that the SMS messages that went around at the Conference denouncing Mugabe came from the Manicaland province delegates and Nyabadza!



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