Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief—
SIMMERING tensions exploded at a Zanu-PF Midlands province inter-district conference when Gokwe-Kana legislator, Cde Owen “Mudha” Ncube, and the provincial secretary for administration, Cde Tapiwa Matangaidze, came close to exchanging blows. Matangaidze, who is also the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare went for Cde Ncube after he was booed and jeered while reading provincial resolutions ahead of the Zanu-PF annual People’s Conference in Victoria Falls next week.
Matangaidze was caught unawares when a section of youths – who had earlier seen their resolution to reserve the post of political commissar for war veterans shot down by the province – started shouting at him accusing him of being a member of “G40”, a purported Zanu-PF faction said to be intent on blocking the path of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe as the party’s next leader.
The youths accused Cde Matangaidze of fanning factionalism and creating tensions between Cde Mnangagwa and First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe. Infuriated by the incessant booing, jeering and interjections, Cde Matangaidze was forced to abandon reading the resolutions.
“Chaos at that moment reigned supreme with the youths shouting ‘G40! G40!’ as the honourable deputy minister was reading the resolutions,” said a source who attended the meeting.
“Cde Matangaidze tried to continue reading the resolutions but out of anger he abandoned his duties before charging in the direction where Cde Ncube was seated. There was a coming together.” Later on, the Deputy Minister phoned The Chronicle saying he did not have a comment on the matter.
Cde Ncube was not answering his phone last night.
Midlands acting provincial chairman Cde Kizito Chivamba said Cde Matangaidze aggressively approached Cde Ncube. “Cde Matangaidze went to where Cde Ncube was seated as if it was him who was shouting his name. The youths then booed Cde Matangaidze more. It was unprofessional conduct by the party members,” said Cde Chivamba.
He insisted he had not witnessed the two legislators exchanging blows. “I didn’t witness the two engaged in any physical fight and if they did, it must have been outside the conference room since I was chairing the conference,” said Cde Chivamba.
He said Cde Matangaidze reacted badly to the situation considering his position in the party and the government by wanting to confront Cde Ncube in the heat of the moment. Cde Matangaidze told The Chronicle that he only exchanged some harsh words with Cde Ncube after the youths booed him and called him names.
“There isn’t much to say here. I just went up to him to let him know that I didn’t like it and it wasn’t physical,” he said. After Cde Matangaidze left the conference room, the provincial secretary for finance, Cde John Holder, took over the reading of the resolutions. Meanwhile, Cde Chivamba said the provincial leadership struck down item number seven from the list of resolutions that had been submitted by the Youth Wing at the end of the conference.
The resolution read: “To respect our liberators of Chimurenga, the revered War Veterans of the Liberation Struggle and to pass VONC (vote of no confidence) on any Cde whose conduct deviates from the party. The league further advocates that only a comrade with proven liberation war credentials must be appointed National Political Commissar.”
The resolutions were signed by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena, who is the Youth League’s provincial secretary for administration in the Midlands province. Cde Chivamba said the Youth League, Women’s League and the Main Wing all came out with different resolutions at the end of their deliberations.
He, however, said the resolutions from the party structures were then put together and one document with the final resolutions would be tabled at the conference. “The youths, the women and the men all had their resolutions and we then sat down as a province to work on one concrete document which didn’t contain that resolution. So to us anyone who brings up that point which we discarded as a province is conflict-ridden and has ulterior motives,” he said.
War veterans secretary general Victor Matemadanda was recently quoted in the Financial Gazette claiming the organisation’s provincial chairpersons had resolved on November 15 that the position of political commissar should be reserved for war veterans.
Days earlier, a grouping calling itself the Children of War Veterans had called a press conference in the office of War Veterans Minister Chris Mutsvangwa where they demanded that the party’s political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere — who was appointed to the position by President Mugabe — should be removed.
Matemadanda claimed Cde Kasukuwere was “associated with a faction”, thought to be reference to the so-called “G40”. Both Cdes Mnangagwa and Cde Kasukuwere deny leading factions in Zanu-PF and have pledged their loyalty to President Mugabe.