From George Maponga recently in Chiredzi—
President Mugabe has set the stage for unity among Zanu-PF feuding parties in Masvingo, after he presided over a no-holds barred meeting in the Lowveld, pitting all ruling party legislators in the province and some party provincial executive members on one side, against the revolutionary party’s senior leadership led by Politburo members Cdes Josaya Hungwe and Shuvai Mahofa on the other.Although the closed-door crunch indaba held at Triangle Country Club on Saturday lasting until around 6pm did not come up with resolutions after all the parties failed to make presentations because of limited time, the move by President Mugabe to call for the meeting has been hailed as a harbinger of a new era of unity in Zanu-PF in Masvingo.
The meeting was called at the instigation of the majority of the 26 Zanu-PF House of Assembly representatives from Masvingo together with three Chiredzi chiefs who appealed for President Mugabe to intervene and solve the party’s problems and make sure Zanu-PF was united in the province ahead of the 2018 general elections.
The Members of Parliament together with Chiefs Sengwe, Tshovani and Gudo of Chiredzi asked President Mugabe to give them a platform to raise various complaints mainly against the province’s senior Politburo member Cde Hungwe and his counterpart Cde Mahofa, who is also the provincial affairs minister.
This culminated in President Mugabe calling for Saturday’s meeting that was attended by all the 26 Zanu-PF Members of Parliament, Senators, Zanu-PF acting provincial chairman Cde Amasa Nhenjana. Women’s League provincial boss Cde Veronica Makonese and her Youth League counterpart Cde Nobert Ndaarombe.
Also in attendance were the three Chiredzi chiefs together with Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira as well as Chiefs Chitanga of Mwenezi, Serima of Gutu, and Marozva of Bikita in their capacities as members of the provincial chiefs’ assembly.
The meeting was also attended by Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Cde Ignatious Chombo and National Political Commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, who accompanied the President to Chiredzi. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora was also in attendance.
Speaking after the meeting, Cde Kasukuwere described the indaba as very fruitful, saying the second round was going to be held at a date to be announced. Cde Kasukuwere refused to disclose what had been discussed in the meeting.
‘’We had very fruitful discussions with the leadership of the party in Masvingo and legislators from this province who had some issues they felt were causing divisions in the party but I cannot reveal the issues that we discussed,’’ he said.
However, reliable sources who attended the meeting said the legislators and Chiredzi chiefs raised several complaints against Senator Mahofa and Cde Hungwe with the latter defending themselves.
Most of the fire was reportedly directed at Senator Mahofa, who was accused by Chiredzi chiefs and the legislators of favouritism in the allocation of sugar cane plots on the 4 000 hectares that was recently acquired from Lowveld sugar cane producer Tongaat Hulett.
Senator Mahofa was accused of allocating most of the plots to her allies and relatives but the Masvingo provincial affairs minister is said to have shot that down saying that the allocations were done by her two predecessors.
She said she was yet to allocate land in Masvingo from the time she assumed office. She was also accused of embezzling $20 000 donated by Tongaat Hulett for President Mugabe’s daughter Mrs Bona Chikore’s wedding.
However, Senator Mahofa reportedly dismissed the allegations saying the company did not send the donation via her office but directly. Senator Mahofa was also accused of illegally collecting 900kg of Tongaat Hulett winter maize grain from each of the 26 legislators who were supposed to get 44,9 tonnes each for distribution to their constituencies.
However, she dismissed the allegation saying the maize that was collected was for distribution to vulnerable groups in the province such as Children and Old People’s Homes through the Social Welfare Department.
Cde Hungwe and Senator Mahofa were also accused of collecting and diverting donations to Zanu-PF that were made by the Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers Union (Zismiwu) before the ouster of former secretary general of the Union Cde Admore Hwarare, but the pair denied the allegations saying the donations were made directly to the party through the then secretary for administration Mr Didymus Mutasa.
The meeting ended before all the parties had been afforded the chance to speak, resulting in the decision to hold another meeting at a future date in Harare. After the meeting, Senator Mahofa who was in a jubilant mood refused to shed light on the deliberations.
“The meeting went well and everyone was expressing themselves freely but I cannot disclose what we were discussing. I am not allowed to say anything; maybe the superiors will say something if they want, but we did not finish the meeting because of time so we will have round two at a future date where the final outcome will be announced,’’ said Senator Mahofa.
Bikita South Member of Parliament and Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial secretary for the commissariat Cde Jappy Jaboon equated the meeting to a “truth and reconciliation commission’’ which would heal the ruling party in Masvingo.
Chiredzi East legislator Cde Denford Masiya and his Chiredzi West counterpart Cde Darlington Chiwa also echoed the same sentiments saying President Mugabe had made a good decision to bring all the warring parties on the table in Masvingo.
Chief Charumbira described the move by President Mugabe to come to Masvingo as a master-stroke that will breathe fresh air into the ruling party in Masvingo.
“The meeting was a ventilation exercise. I cannot reveal what we discussed, but it was characterised by very frank discussions. It was an open meeting where everyone was allowed to express themselves and it is good for the party in Masvingo. There is still another round to come but I think this meeting has set the stage for an end to all the problems in our province,’’ said Chief Charumbira.
In his introductory remarks, President Mugabe is said to have called for unity in Masvingo so that the province remains united. The President is also said to have appealed for peace and unity in Masvingo, reminding those in attendance that Masvingo was very key to the country because it is home to the Great Zimbabwe monuments from where the name of the country is derived.
In the run up to the meeting, there was apprehension in the entire Lowveld, with everyone eagerly anticipating the outcome of the meeting, especially on the fate of the 4 000ha of cane fields that were recently acquired from Tongaat Hulett and allocated to indigenous A2 farmers.
Tongaat Hulett managing director Mr Sydney Mtsambiwa and members of the top management of his company spent the whole day milling around the venue of the closed door meeting amid expectations that a decision was going to be made on the recently acquired land.
The issue of sugar cane plots is very sensitive in the Lowveld with people from Chiredzi, led by their three chiefs, arguing that people from the district were being marginalised in the allocation of plots.
Workers in the sugarcane industry are also said to be against the acquisition of sugarcane plots from the company, arguing that the coming in of indigenous farmers will render most of them jobless.