MASHONALAND West veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, annoyed by rising internal conflict and factionalism in the ruling Zanu PF party, this week began moves to push out Provincial Affairs minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka under a litany of allegations.
The Zimbabwe Independent has obtained results of an inquiry into allegations against the Hurungwe West MP, which include unprocedural and unconstitutional tinkering with party structures in the vast district.
The inquiry, which was commissioned by the party’s Hurungwe district coordinating committee (DCC), also accused Mliswa of breaching rules governing Zanu PF restructuring.
War veterans have demanded that a group of youths allegedly working with Mliswa-Chikoka be disbanded after unleashing a reign of terror in the province.
The youths were expelled from the party in 2015.
Provincial party bigwigs are also uncomfortable with the alleged continued influence of her brother, Temba Mliswa, in the Hurungwe West constituency, where he was MP before moving to Norton.
“To restore the fabric of discipline in the constituency and in Hurungwe generally, disciplinary measures should be taken against … Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, Silas Chimbiro, Nigel Murambiwa and Simba Mamina,” recommendations from the inquiry said.
“Cdes Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, Nigel Murambiwa and Silas Chimbiro should be relieved of their duties and be suspended from participating in any party elections for a specified period,” results of the inquiry, whose board comprised war veterans, said.
Zanu PF sources told the Independent that the veterans intervened after seeing the ruling party degenerate into chaos, with newcomers that rose to influence following the coup in 2017 fighting to consolidate their power.
“The MPs in Mashonaland West, especially those who came after 2017, are doing everything they can to consolidate power ahead of party primary elections,” a provincial executive member said.
“People are preparing for provincial elections … sitting MPs want to consolidate their power ahead of primaries coming soon,” another top party executive said.
Zanu PF will hold primary elections to choose candidates for the 2023 harmonised elections.
Violence rocked the party’s restructuring exercise last month, forcing Zanu PF to abandon Zvimba district elections, just as the party prepared for its National People’s Conference in Bindura.
Board of inquiry secretary and war veterans league provincial secretary for economic affairs Antony Zunzanyika turned down a request for comment.
“I cannot comment much on documents that have leaked,” Zunzanyika said. “This is an internal issue, which we will deal with internally. But I can tell you the document is authentic.”
Zanu PF acting provincial chairperson Abiel Mujeri said he received the report, and the provincial leadership was seized with issues raised in the document.
“I am aware of the document generated from the war veterans in Hurungwe District. It’s an internal document. We will look at it and see what it says. What I can say is that we are still consulting on it. The war veterans can conduct a board of inquiry but we will make a determination after the consultations,” Mujeri said.
The war veterans also said Mamina expelled himself from Zanu PF when he aligned himself with Mliswa in the 2015 Norton constituency by-election.
“He still has to be cleared for re-entry into party ranks in accordance with the prevailing rules and regulations,” the report added.
John Mvurayehore, the chairperson for Nyangwizhu District, according to the report, claimed to be a victim of Mliswa-Chikoka’s chagrin for supporting Hurungwe DCC chairperson Richard Ziki.
“I was accused of supporting Ziki when the minister wanted us to vote for Chasara so we told her that we would not accept an imposed candidate,” he said. “She told us that since we refused to take orders, we will lose our positions for influencing voters on who to vote for.”
Zimhonja district chairperson Judith Gobo, also told the inquiry that she was replaced by Mliswa-Chikoka’s ally Chenai Mukandi.
“I was just told that she couldn’t work with me because she works with Chenai Mukandi and she is her preferred chairwoman,” she said.
Daniel Shumba Mashoko from Point 4 district in the constituency said Zanu PF supporters were not happy that Mliswa-Chikoka was imposing her brother’s former agents into party structures.
“She is working with the people we fought against when the party lost to her brother and the same people are back,” he said.
In her response, Mliswa-Chikoka dismissed the report as malicious while questioning the motive behind the inquiry which she said was not sanctioned by the party.
She said she had also clashed with Zunzanyika over his alleged disrespect towards President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“They went to Hurungwe West, I am sure they went through the whole of Hurungwe because what I understand is that they went to all the constituencies in the district, who asked them to do so, I don’t know,” she queried.
The provincial minister reiterated her commitment to Zanu PF saying it was sad that the war veterans were tearing up the party rather than building it.
“It’s a cause for concern and as I have said it’s a malicious report, a cooked up report. If you go on the ground and question these allegations you will find out that they are unfounded,” she said.
Mliswa-Chikoka denied tempering with party structures.
“Basically, at the end of the day, I see a bad attitude coming out of these Hurungwe war veterans and it must be investigated because we will end up regretting at the end,” she said. “I think there is one thing about them. They are very bitter, they are bitter war veterans. I don’t know where the bitterness is coming from, but they are bitter.”
Mliswa-Chikoka also accused the war veterans of attacking her as the sole female legislator in the district.
“They thought they can bully me. I know the principles I stand on and they are the principles of Zanu PF,” she said, dismissing allegations that she was trying to accumulate control of structures while preparing to form another party.