ZANU-PF, ZPF fight for Munacho Mutezo
MUTARE — Suspended ZANU-PF Member of Parliament for Chimanimani West, Munacho Mutezo, has become a talking point in the country’s murky political waters as the ruling party and newly established opposition outfit, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) both claim his membership.
On the one hand ZPF claims that Mutezo has crossed the floor, while on the other hand, ZANU-PF is arguing that the former politburo member was merely suspended hence he is still their card-carrying member.
As the two rival political parties clash over Mutezo’s membership status, the Chimanimani West legislator has been reluctant to set the record straight.
Several phone calls and text messages to his mobile phone have not been responded to.
Mutezo last made public comments during an interview with the Financial Gazette last year and has remained low-key ever since.
A recent ZANU-PF Manicaland provincial coordinating committee (PCC) meeting, for the umpteenth time, recommended that Mutezo be recalled from both the National Assembly and the party over his association with ZPF.
The recommendation cited Mutezo’s public appearance at a ZPF Manicaland inaugural inter-constituency meeting, where he was allegedly seated at the front row, strategically reserved for the opposition movement’s inner circle.
This further armed a faction within the ruling party that is reportedly rooting for Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe when he decides to retire from politics, to have the embattled MP axed from the party during the recent PCC meeting.
Ironically, Mutezo was suspended and stripped of his Cabinet post after the December 2014 congress for his alleged links with former vice president Joice Mujuru who now leads ZPF.
ZPF founding members and former ZANU-PF bigwigs Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa have openly claimed Mutezo’s membership status.
Mutasa categorically stated that Mutezo was part of their new political party.
“He (Mutezo) has been a member of People First right from the beginning,” said Mutasa in his short response.
Gumbo, however, chose to be diplomatic in his approach regarding the matter.
He indicated that Mutezo supported their cause, ideology and founding principles.
“We know that he is still an (ZANU-PF) MP, but he supports (Zimbabwe) People First. He has indicated that he supports us, he supports People First. We have already welcomed him and he is working with us,” said Gumbo.
Questioned over the declaration by ZPF, Mutezo’s appearance at the opposition’s meeting, ZANU-PF national spokesperson, Simon Khaya-Moyo, said the legislator is still their card-carrying member after confirming with the ruling party’s national administration.
“I have checked with the administration and they confirmed that he is on suspension, but still a National Assembly member for Chimanimani West. But check with the (Manicaland) provincial executive office. The chairperson (Samuel Undenge) must be in a position to give you Mutezo’s current membership status,” said Khaya Moyo.
Undenge could not be reached for comment and he was not responding to both telephone calls and text messages.
However, Undenge is on record as having indicated that the province has resolved that Mutezo be recalled from the party. Undenge even indicated that Chimanimani West no longer supports their legislator and signed a petition, which was forwarded to the party’s headquarters, to have Mutezo recalled from both government and the party.
Khaya-Moyo, however, said he had neither come across such a petition nor had the Politburo deliberated on Mutezo’s fate.
Observers reckon that Mutezo’s predicament could be linked to the ongoing factional fights rocking the ruling party whereby his ouster is believed to be largely spearheaded by Team Lacoste, the faction that wants Mnangagwa to be the country’s next leader.
The camp is battling against another faction known as Generation 40 (G40) which is against Team Lacoste’s wishes.
The G40 camp is said to be blocking any further purging of Mujuru loyalists whom they are courting to boost their numerical advantage to fight the Mnangagwa-led faction.
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