Zimbabwe Party Split Widens as Ex-Mugabe Ally Seeks SADC Aid

Faction fighting in Zimbabwe’s ruling party has intensified to such an extent that a one-time ally of President Robert Mugabe has written to the southern African nation’s neighbors to complain about his dismissal.

Didymus Mutasa, a member of Mugabe’s first cabinet when Zimbabwe won independence in 1980, told the 15-nation Southern African Development Community that his removal as the ruling party administration secretary was unconstitutional. Mutasa was one of a number of senior party officials, including then Vice President Joice Mujuru and party spokesman Rugare Gumbo, who lost their posts at a party congress in December.

“Common decency has been eroded by dictatorship and personality cults that are being used to gain and retain power,” Mutasa said today by phone from the capital, Harare.

Two provincial committees of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front are calling for Mutasa’s expulsion from the party. Mutasa, Mujuru and Gumbo were dismissed from ZANU-PF on allegations of plotting to “oust or assassinate” Mugabe, according to the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

“His statement to SADC and the press shows he’s a renegade and has no place in the party,” Goodwills Masimirembwa, the chairman of Zanu-PF’s Harare province committee, said today by phone from the capital.

Chrome Reserves

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-largest chrome and platinum reserves, as well as gold, diamonds and iron ore. Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Rio Tinto Plc are among companies mining in the country.

Calls to Zanu-PF headquarters weren’t immediately answered.

The December congress re-appointed Mugabe, 90, as the party’s president, while naming his wife Grace Mugabe as head of the party’s Women’s League and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa as Vice President.

Mutasa told SADC that the crisis sparked by the decisions of the party congress constitutes “a serious threat to the stability of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe and the region at large,” he said yesterday in a statement. He called the December congress illegal.

Mnangagwa, speaking at a party meeting in Midlands province today, called Mutasa “out of order” because as the ZANU-PF administration secretary, he organized the December congress.

“No one is going to listen to him, and no positional change will come,” he said.

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