Knives drawn out against Undenge


Samuel Undenge

INFIGHTING has plagued the ZANU-PF Manicaland Province, for the umpteenth time, amid fresh attempts by politicians in the volatile eastern part of Zimbabwe to oust interim provincial chairman, Samuel Undenge, for causing confusion in Manicaland.
The latest wrangling has been spawned by a bid to have Chimanimani West legislator Munacho Mutezo recalled from the National Assembly for his perceived links with former vice president Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru was expelled from ZANU-PF and government in April on suspicion that she, along with her perceived backers, were plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, whom she had deputised for 10 years.
Mutezo is one of the heavyweights in ZANU-PF who have been punished for their purported support of Mujuru, wife of liberation war icon, the late retired general Solomon Mujuru.
Recently, Mutezo, who denies any wrongdoing, was suspended from the party for a period of three years for his role in promoting factionalism in ZANU-PF.
Curiously, despite his suspension from the party, there are still attempts to compel the Politburo, which is the highest decision-making organ in ZANU-PF, to prefer the harshest penalty on Mutezo.
Those baying for his blood have recommended that Mutezo be stripped of his Chimanimani West seat to precipitate another by-election.
Mutezo, who became Member of Parliament for Chimanimani West in July 2013, has refused to comment on the shenanigans of those who cannot wait to see his back in Parliament.
Last week, the Financial Gazette reported that the ZANU-PF Politburo had since been furnished with a petition signed by “people from Chimanimani” who want Mutezo recalled from the legislative assembly.
The petition was submitted through secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, to the Politburo by the interim chairman of Manicaland Province.
It has however, emerged that the provincial leadership is not on the same page with regards to fresh attempts to inflict more political pain on Mutezo who has also lost his Cabinet position as deputy minister of energy and power development.
Members of the provincial executive interviewed this week alleged that Undenge was conflicted in the case as he was one of the chief architects behind the petition.
They said the so-called “people of Chimanimani” who signed the petition were made to append their signatures on it under duress hence the Politburo “should dismiss it with the contempt that it deserves”.
“People were ambushed into signing the petition at community gatherings where villagers would be receiving food handouts. For fear of being denied food aid by those that sponsored the production of the petition, villagers had no other option except to sign it,” said a ZANU-PF insider privy to the developments.
It was further alleged that Undenge was attempting to drag all members of the provincial executive into his personal fights with Mutezo, thereby further dividing the province.
It has been suggested, and not denied, that Undenge was desperate to have his wife, Letina, replace Mutezo.
Undenge, who could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print, has a long history of rivalry with the Chimanimani West legislator.
Before Chimanimani was split into two constituencies, the two fought tooth and nail for the right to represent the people in the south eastern part of the country. The election, which was won by Undenge, saw Mutezo crying foul as it was marred by serious irregularities, which included the bussing in of school children to vote at certain polling stations.
Despite losing the election, President Mugabe made Mutezo a non-constituency MP and further rewarded him with both a Politburo appointment and a Cabinet post as minister of water resources.
In the same government, Undenge was made a deputy minister despite his poll victory. He is now a full minister.
And when Chimanimani was split into two, the bad blood continued with Undenge attempting to sponsor a rival candidate to fight Mutezo in Chimanimani West, while Mutezo was also accused of sponsoring a candidate to fight Undenge in Chimanimani East.
ZANU-PF insiders said Mutezo’s woes have provided a window of opportunity for Undenge to politically finish him off.
Undenge was made the interim chairperson of Manicaland after a vote of no confidence was passed in John Mvundura, who was also accused of backing Mujuru.
Undenge’s grip on the province has been shaky though.
A few months ago, there were attempts to replace him with Mike Madiro, a decision that was later to be reversed by the commissariat department.
Now there are fresh attempts to pass a vote of no confidence in Undenge for causing confusion in the province.