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ZANU PF factions revealed

12 Jul 2019 at 09:10hrs | Views

The Zimbabwe African Nationalists Union (Patriotic Front) ZANU PF is an interesting political and liberation movement which is currently the reigning and undisputed champion of Zimbabwean politics.

Robert Mugabe practically built the present day version of ZANU PF with his own 2 hands these hands coming in the form of Edgar Tekere and Edson Zvobgo. Factionalism has always been the order of the day in ZANU PF. Robert Mugabe used it as a tool to secure his post. Everyone was busy fighting for survival as rival factions slaughtered each other at ground level while the grand master played unifier and undisputed godfather.

Today I seek to demystify a few facts relating to factions. ZANU PF has traditionally had 3 factions and the media has created other smaller factions in order to package and sell a story.

Politicians versus Combatants

ZANU PF has always been divided between politicians and militants. The ZANU political structures and the ZANLA military structures never really integrated to become a single unit. The ZANLA wing is still fighting for a seat at the table of power which is why war vets keep making demands to date.

ZANLA comrades feel entitled and claim to have done all the work at the front while politicians wore suits , travelled and stayed in hotels and had holidays in Gonakudzingwa and other 5star hotels or prisons of their time. Most ZANLA combatants had been restricted to the barracks, state security and other functionary roles in government.

In a bid to pacify the combatants Robert Mugabe appointed a  handful of former fighters the likes of Runaida, Joyce Mujuru who was the poster child of female combatants though with a dubious history at the frontline, maybe Cde Chris Mutsvangwa needs to walk us through a history lesson.

ZANU politicians on the other hand were embroiled in power struggles of their own and the seats at the table were not enough to cater for combatants hence they were mostly restricted to the barracks

ZANU politicians rotated executive roles amongst themselves, high salaries, luxurious lifestyles and being called "shef" left , right and centre yet they were no where near the frontline of the war.

The politicians became friends based on tribal grounds and also who had served with who at which prison. Bonds grew, comradeship grew both at the front and in the prison cells. Rivalries grew and so did the thirst for power.

Origins Mujuru faction

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there never was a Mujuru faction. Rex Nhongo and Runaida might think they had a faction but in essence it was purely an Edson Zvobgo faction. It is no secret that Edson Zvobgo like any other politician wanted to be number 1. Zvobgo had to mobilise support and power players from different angles. Zvobgo built powerful alliances and almost became a threat to Robert Mugabe's hold on power.

Rex Nhongo was more or less the enforcer and military muscle of the Zvobgo faction while Edson Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo was the godfather.

Robert Mugabe being a grand master of politics resourced and helped build a Simon Muzenda faction which in essence was meant to keep Zvobgo busy in Masvingo. The idea being if you are fighting for political survival in your home province you won't be able to focus on the Presidential fight.

The Muzenda faction was probably the private school of factions. No brains and all brute to a certain extent. The Muzenda faction had the likes of Emmerson Mnangagwa who was the enforcer and the secret weapon of the faction. If Kizito Chivamba were alive he would tell us of Patrick Kombayi and everyone who stood in the way of the Robert Mugabe- Simon Muzenda alliance.

Other key players in the Muzenda faction were Josiah Tungamirai , Sheba Gava (General Zvinavashe) , Josiah Hungwe, Shuvai Chikoforo Mahofa among others.

The Zvobgo faction had the undecorated  guru himself Edson Zvobgo, Dzikamai Mavhaire, the Mumbengegwi boys who were very educated. Zvobgo needed military muscle and he turned to Rex Nhongo and grew close to the General and Dumiso Dabengwa who had an axe to grind with Emmerson Mnangagwa. Zvobgo recruited brains from other provinces such as Simba Makoni to widen his asset portfolio.

As age , alcohol and smoking took its toll on Edson Zvobgo he needed someone to hold the fort while he battled accidents , ill health and other demons. It was at this point that Rex Nhongo became a prominent fixture in faction discussions.

When Edson Zvobgo saw that he had lost the fight he touted a young Simba Makoni as successor to Robert Mugabe. Simba would gain the support of Rex Nhongo, Dabengwa and the remnants of the Zvobgo faction. When Edson Zvobgo passed on 22 August 2004, the faction became a Mujuru faction by default. Edson Zvobgo had already set in motion a plan to block Emmerson Mnangagwa from replacing the late Vice President Simon Muzenda.

Rex Nhongo executed the strategy and Runaida Mugari was the new Vice President. Left alone without brains Rex Nhongo had to look to the likes of David Karimanzira , Nicholas Goche (a man who was instrumental in blocking Mnangagwa in 2004) Maynard Muzariri, Ray Kaukonde among others for strategy. The Zvobgo faction was now a Mujuru faction and the likes of Walter Mzembi , Dzikamai Mavhaire and other known Zvobgo loyalists paid homage to the new kingmaker who was Rex Nhongo.

Muzenda faction

When Simon Muzenda passed on Emmerson Mnangagwa became the defacto leader of the Muzenda faction. Knowing very well that he was out gunned and out resourced by the Zvobgo faction , ED turned to a new ally in the form of the military. ED became close friends with General Zvinavashe and made himself very useful to the command element of the army. When Zvinavashe died ED befriended General Chiwenga and a relationship grew. However , ED never trusted Chiwenga because Chiwenga and Pretence Shiri were inclined to stand with Rex Nhongo. The waters were treacherous for Mnangagwa and he had very few allies in the form of Mike Madiro, Jabulani Sibanda, Oppah Muchinguri and other light weights. The heavy weights stood with the sitting vice President who had more to offer compared to an aspiring vice President.

Emmerson Mnangagwa threw himself under the command of Robert Mugabe and grew what seemed to be a Mugabe faction. Emmerson Mnangagwa persuaded President Mugabe to allow Grace Mugabe to play in the political arena. Grace Mugabe would prove to be instrumental in destroying the remnants of the Zvobgo faction which had found its original shape and power. The Zvobgo faction had called back home senior figures who had bad blood with ED such as Rugare Gumbo, Didmus Mutasa , Ignatius Chombo and many more. Rex Nhongo had built a monster faction which had it been left alone would have taken over power by 2014.

Emmerson Mnangagwa used Grace Mugabe and her proximity to the President very well. Without lifting a finger Mnangagwa got rid of Runaida, Rugare Gumbo, Didmus Mutasa and what the media termed the Gamatox faction , which in essence was the ghost of Edson Zvobgo. Jonathan Moyo was also a key instrument in building a narrative and case around which Joyce Mujuru and her bandwagon were to be dismissed upon.

The lizard becomes a crocodile

When Emmerson Mnangagwa had succeeded in isolating Robert Mugabe from all senior ZANU politicians he went for the kill and lacoste was unleashed in full force. The lizard which was hiding behind President Mugabe grew a pair of teeth and became a crocodile.

The first port of call was to isolate Grace Mugabe from the military and war veterans. This proved to be an easy feat to accomplish. Grace Mugabe went to war shouting at everyone who could protect Mugabe from the new found crocodile.

Jonathan Moyo and the young Turks saw through the crocodile and tried their best to defend the grand master but the grand master believed that ED was too loyal and faithful to bite his master.

November 2017 happened and the crocodile became king of the pond.

However, the crocodile does not have enough political capital and does not have enough ground operators to run a Mugabe like establishment.

The Karanga are not united behind ED. The Zvobgo faction is regrouping, the Mujuru camp has scores to settle and Robert Mugabe's Zezuru mafia is still in the play baying for blood.

Emmerson Mnangagwa has powerful and tactical enemies and very few allies.

It is not paranoia but historical facts which make ED uneasy. When they say there is bad blood between ED and Chiwenga it is with cause and one has to trace the roots of the relationship between the two. Were they ever allies or it was merely for political convenience?


The Impeachment bomb is counting down and Emmerson Mnangagwa knows that there are moves in play to impeach him. His enemies have the resources to pull it off , they have the intellectual capacity to sneak it in right under his nose and they have enough support to execute it.

The ghost of Edson Zvobgo still haunts Emmerson Mnangagwa and as he heads for a trying people's conference he is actually heading for a fight for his political survival.

The road to the ZANU PF conference is paved by hypocrisy and treachery. ED needs more friends than enemies. Sadly ED seems to be lacking on the allies front and is isolated the same way Robert Mugabe was isolated from all his allies in December 2014.

Nicholas Ncube is a researcher and blogger based in Ontario Canada and a strange thinker

Source - Nicholas Ncube
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