Zanu PF party insiders say leaders of the faction, among them former administration secretary Didymus Mutasa and axed information secretary Rugare Gumbo, have met with Mujuru and adopted strategies to whip up emotion against the outcome of last year’s Zanu-PF congress.

Mutasa last week accused President Robert Mugabe of hijacking the congress and acting in an unconstitutional manner by stopping the election of senior leaders, and described him as a divisive leader. Insiders say this was the first salvo in the new offensive.

He pointed out that last-ditch amendments made to the Zanu-PF constitution before the congress to suit the Mnangagwa faction were illegal as there was insufficient notice to the administration secretary as required. He also berated the Mnangagwa faction for un-procedural votes of no-confidence against leaders linked to Mujuru.

“Most of the meetings (by the Mujuru faction leaders) have not been done in a visible manner so as to beat surveillance. Emissaries have been shuttling from one leader to another with messages. They have also used social media like Whatsapp to communicate,” said a former Zanu-PF central committee member.

The faction leaders were encouraged by the fact that they command the majority of the Zanu-PF structures throughout the country and hoped to build enough courage among loyalists to speak out openly against the congress outcome, he added.

Nine of the ten provincial chairpersons who were removed prior to the congress were reportedly aligned to Mujuru.

“Several strategic moves have been suggested. Mutasa is likely to initiate a court challenge against the congress outcome. Even if the politburo okays his expulsion from the party for openly criticising the president, others can still go ahead and do so. “In addition, the faction is planning to use charismatic members to speak out against the congress at strategic times. The plan is to build a growing voice against what happened in December and once that happens, it will hopefully put pressure on Mugabe to take action on the matter,” he said.

The new provincial leadership in Manicaland, where Mutasa was once considered a godfather, has already met and recommended the former secretary’s expulsion from the party.

Meanwhile, the camp is also penning a strong petition to be presented to Mugabe when he returns from his annual holiday to try and convince him that he was fooled by Mnangagwa and his supporters – who they insist is in fact plotting to depose the president, added the source.

He said the messages had been well received by the Mujuru loyalists while some who had swerved to the Mnangagwa camp also admit the congress was ill-handled.

In some cases, the point persons are said to be approaching small groups of people in both urban and rural areas and starting debate on the congress and once satisfied that the participants are pro-Mujuru, they announce the messages “from the top”.

Another source said news of the clandestine activities by the Mujuru faction had unsettled the Mnangagwa faction. “Mnangagwa is panicking because he is not sure how the president will react. It seems he is afraid that Mugabe might have a change of heart if the campaign is carried out effectively.

“There is much uncertainty in the Mnangagwa camp – as it would be ill-advised to take summary action against the leaders in the Mujuru camp. While one or two of them might be arrested to send a strong warning to the others, Mugabe might be against it,” he said. A new congress was unlikely, but Mugabe might massage the ditched Mujuru leadership with influential positions to avert a looming implosion of the party, leaving room for them to reposition themselves ahead of the next elections in 2018.

He also dismissed the possibility of the Mujuru faction forming a breakaway party, saying those who lead it have so far insisted that they would rather fight from within. The second source said the planned petition would include an expose of how the Mnangagwa faction has un-procedurally stuffed “caretaker” provincial structures with undeserving members.

“Just try to befriend provincial party officers who manage the membership registers and they will tell you that so many people have been brought in through the back door. Factional leaders are paying bribes to the officers to do that,” he said. He added that a significant number of people who made it into the central committee in December had not served for 15 continuous years as stipulated by party regulations, while some who now sit in the provincial committees had not completed the mandatory five years in lower structures.

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