ZANU-PF factions fight over maize
MAIZE donated to alleviate hunger by sugar producing company Tongaat Hullet in the famine ravaged Masvingo province, has become the new frontier for fierce ZANU-PF succession wars amid reports that party big shots are jostling for the right to distribute it.
Tongaat Hullet donated 1 300 tonnes of maize which it produced under its winter maize project last month for purposes of boosting food security in the province where at least 700 000 people were in urgent need of food aid by March following an unprecedented El Nino induced drought which saw much of the crop failing across the country.
By now the number of food insecure people in the province could have rocketed, with Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, announcing last week that the number of people in need of food aid in the country now stood at slightly under four million, further highlighting the gravity of the hunger situation.
He said this while addressing members of the ruling party’s National Consultative Assembly in Harare on Friday.
Masvingo province has the highest starving population in the country.
The donation by Tongaat Hullet came after government declared the drought a state of national disaster and begged the corporate sector and the international community for assistance.
Sources from the province said problems arose when it was decided that the maize would be distributed at constituency level, with sitting legislators overseeing the process.
In addition to it being tantamount to politicisation of food, the move has worsened the already strained political situation in the volatile province.
All 26 sitting Members of Parliament in Masvingo belong to ZANU-PF.
Some MPs have approached interim ZANU-PF provincial chairman, Amasa Nenjana, with complaints that they were being sidelined from distributing food in their own constituencies because of their alleged factional allegiances in the party.
Presently, ZANU-PF is torn between two major camps that are locked in an intriguing battle over who should succeed President Robert Mugabe when he exits the political scene.
One faction, called Team Lacoste, backs Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced dismissed former vice president, Joice Mujuru, in 2014.
Another faction, called Generation 40 (G40) is strongly opposed to his ascendency and is battling to thwart his prospects of succeeding President Mugabe.
Mnangagwa’s faction, which is more dominant in Masvingo province, is being accused by some MPs of taking advantage of the maize donation to overcome G40 allies.
Party members sympathetic to Team Lacoste reportedly took charge of the process, sidelining serving MPs allegedly aligned to G40.
Unsettled G40 MPs see this as a move to get rid of them ahead of the 2018 general elections. Sources said after receiving grievances from the disgruntled MPs, Nenjana, himself a G40 loyalist, called for an urgent meeting of all Masvingo MPs to try and discuss the matter and about 14 turned up.
The matter is now expected to dominate discussions of the ZANU-PF Masvingo Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting set to be held this weekend.
In a telephone interview from Masvingo on Tuesday, Nenjana said he would take the matter up with the national commissariat headed by Saviour Kasukuwere.
Nenjana was handpicked by Kasukuwere to chair the province after he purged Mnangagwa’s ally, Ezra Chadzamira, late last year.
Nenjana accused ZANU-PF political heavyweights of causing confusion in the province.
“The problem is that some of our leaders in the Politburo and Central Committee belittle MPs and they think they can bully them out if they do not obey them. We were surprised when the maize came and some of our MPs were muscled out and replaced by what they call shadow MPs and councillors,” said Nenjana.
“I summoned all 26 MPs from Masvingo to a meeting last week and some did not come. But I will take the concerns of those who came to the PCC meeting and we will see what happens from there. If we fail to solve it, I will then put it forward to the commissariat department,” he said, without disclosing the number and identity of MPs who turned up for the meeting.
Lovemore Matuke, the ZANU-PF chief whip in Parliament, professed ignorance about the complaints.
“I was given my own allocation as Gutu Central MP and I have since distributed it to those in need,” said Matuke.
“I haven’t heard of any such complaints. Maybe if they have any complaints, they will bring them later.”
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Masvingo, Shuvai Mahofa, told the Financial Gazette to get in touch with her later when reached by phone, but was not answering subsequent calls.
As the administrative head of the province, Mahofa receives regular briefings about the developments in Masvingo.
She and Matuke are strongly linked to Team Lacoste.
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