By Tererai Karimakwenda
03 December 2012
More infighting within the structures of ZANU PF is reported to have surfaced in Robert Mugabe’s own rural home, just days before the party conference in Gweru.
A report in the independent NewsDay newspaper said activists loyal to the Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who is also the Zvimba North MP, have banned supporters from wearing party regalia that has Mugabe’s image.
Thousands of items with Mugabe’s portrait were reportedly sourced by Edwin Matibiri, a close relative of Mugabe’s who aspires to be in parliament. NewsDay said Chombo’s supporters reportedly viewed Matibiri’s actions as part of a campaign strategy to replace Chombo in Zvimba district, before the party announces a date for the primaries.
The regalia, which included scarfs and bandanas, has already claimed some victims. Four ZANU PF executives in Zvimba North were reportedly suspended by the district chairperson, Hardlife Chiwoniwoni, after they were caught wearing the forbidden regalia supplied by Matibiri.
According to NewsDay, the four wasted no time in writing to the ZANU PF chairman for Mashonaland West, John Mafa, asking him which regalia they should wear “since Katawa district is now afraid to put on ZANU PF regalia”. The letter, dated November 29, was copied to Chiwoniwoni, who had suspended them.
The letter read in part: “As far as the party is concerned, we feel we have done nothing bad. We will not surrender this regalia to you since this will be tantamount to surrendering ZANU PF. On the regalia, there is the portrait of President Mugabe, so if I don’t put it on, whose regalia should I put on?”
One of the suspended executives, Mercy Mutyavaviri, told NewsDay that 5,000 ZANU PF members in the district were in possession of the regalia, but were now unsure what to do because they feared being viewed as supporters of Chombo’s rival.
NewsDay said Matibiri admitted that he supplied the regalia, but refused to comment further.