Next month’s ruling party conference in Zimbabwe will be “explosive” as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga battle for control of Zanu-PF, a newspaper has claimed.
The Zimbabwe Independent, quoting unnamed party insiders, said Chiwenga wants Mnangagwa to step down in 2023 after serving one term – so that he can stand for the presidency.
Sixty-two-year-old Chiwenga, the former defence forces commander, led the army operation that forced Robert Mugabe’s resignation in November 2017. The Independent said Mnangagwa’s supporters had already come up with campaign slogans for his next campaign, showing they – and he – have no intention of handing over the party leadership.
“This has caused great fiction in the party,” one source said. “It (the conference) could really be interesting because the other side is not taking it lying down.”
Zanu-PF will hold its conference in Matabeleland South from December 11-15.
Chiwenga wasn’t made defence minister when Mnangagwa appointed his new cabinet in September. His political allies saw this as an attempt by the president to limit his deputy’s influence, insiders say.
Last month Chiwenga received medical treatment in South Africa, reportedly for injuries he received in a grenade attack at a Mnangagwa rally ahead of elections in July.
When he returned, the two sat together smiling for a photo shoot by state media, according to pictures and a story carried by the state-run Herald.
A factional battle between Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe tore the party apart last year, culminating in the army takeover that forced Mugabe’s resignation and ended the influence of Grace’s G40 faction.
But Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo dismissed rumours of rifts in the party as “wishful thinking”.
He told the Independent: “We will be having the mother of all conferences. Anyone anticipating drama will be disappointed.”
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