By Own Correspondent
Zanu PF on Wednesday expelled two top officials over an alleged plot to oust President Emmerson Mnangagwa through popular protests.
Cleveria Chizema, a member of the party’s women’s wing, had already been suspended by the party’s Politburo earlier this month after she was allegedly found in possession of flyers denouncing Mnangagwa and extolling his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.
Zanu PF acting spokesman Patrick Chinamasa, speaking Wednesday after a meeting of the Zanu PF Politburo, said businessman and former Mbare MP Tendai Savanhu had been expelled as an “accomplice” of Chizema.
Tinashe Maduza, the former MP for Kambuzuma, was expelled at the last Politburo meeting over the same alleged plot.
The flyers were allegedly due to be used during anti-government demonstrations that were planned for July 31, before Mnangagwa deployed security forces to force people to stay home.
Mnangagwa’s supporters believe Chiwenga – the powerful 63-year-old former army general who led the coup that ousted the late former President Robert Mugabe – is behind the plot to oust him, but have so far shied away from confronting him.
Chinamasa said Chizema was expelled because of what he called “the seriousness of her case”, stating that “she did not deny any wrongdoing.”
“The Politburo warned that any elements bent on or working to split our leadership and dividing the party will be treated with no leniency. We’re making these very serious decisions to send a clear message that anyone, anyone, anyone who does not follow the party line does not deserve to be in our midst,” Chinamasa to reporters.
Savanhu had been expelled “because of his association with Chizema”, Chinamasa said, without elaborating.
The allegations against Chizema stem from flyers she said were mysteriously delivered to her house in March, shortly after her birthday. They denounced Mnangagwa as a failure, while demanding a change to the party’s leadership.
Chinamasa said when confronted about the “anti-party, divisive material”, Chizema admitted that she hid some of the material under a carpet and some in a garage.
Her actions of hiding the flyers instead of turning them over to Zanu PF’s security department “reflects some agenda”, Chinamasa said, adding: “We’re a very alert party. We will continue to carry out investigations to find out whether there are any other accomplices implicated.”
Chizema told reporters two weeks ago that she had tried to arrange meetings with Politburo members Oppah Muchinguri and July Moyo to seek their guidance, but both kept postponing meeting her.
“The papers were very confidential to me and I wanted to give them to Amai Muchinguri. I told her I had a bone to chew with her. But that was the time Covid-19 broke out and she kept saying ‘Mai Chizema, I will see you, I will come’ and you know, time flies, four months went past,” Chizema said.
“In the last meeting [politburo], I told them everything and also that I tried to see July Moyo. He confessed that I looked for him twice.”
With the economy tanking and pressure rising on Mnangagwa over a brutal crackdown on dissent, he is increasingly facing plots within from some of his ambitious lieutenants including Chiwenga who fear his government could collapse and imperil their political careers.
A defiant Mnangagwa told the Zanu PF Politburo that he was readying for elections in 2023, brushing aside criticism including from Catholic bishops who have urged him to end the political and economic logjam by engaging his opposition rivals.
“It is most unfortunate when men of the cloth begin to use the pulpit to advance a nefarious agenda for detractors of our country,” Mnangagwa said.
“Those who want to enter the political realm are welcome to do so. They must come out and form political parties. As Zanu PF, we are ready for the 2023 elections.”