23/12/2016 09:58 SAST | Updated 23/12/2016 11:37 SAST

It's Team Lacoste vs Generation 40 In The Fight To Rule The Zanu-PF

Party leaders say infighting is not new.

Alexander Jo / AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity in South Africa, Morelife Mapeture has described as "normal" the infighting within the ruling party.

In an interview with News24, Mapeture said internal squabbles were not a new phenomenon within the party.

"Infighting is not new in the party; that is now normal especially considering that we are a year away from elections and people will always fight for positions."

"Zanu-PF had splits in the 1960s and remember the Nhari rebellion etc and it (the party) came out strong. It had warring rebellions in the early 1980s and it came out strong; so wait for the next elections and you will see that we will be much stronger. So it's a survival strategy," Mapeture said.

Mapeture was, however, evasive when asked about who would succeed veteran leader President Robert Mugabe.

"As of the president passing on the baton, the constitution of the party is clear on that and there is no need for its discussion here. What should be the focus is what his leadership has delivered," said Mapeture.

Presidential ambitions

"Only God knows the future; if he fails to campaign in the next elections, the constitution has articles of such an eventuality so Zimbabweans let's not panic as we have so many capable leaders, both young and old, in the event of anything but we are very confident that Comrade RG Mugabe will do as per our instructions and as Zanu-PF we are still proud of the old man so far."

Mugabe was endorsed by delegates, who attended the Zanu-PF annual conference held in Masvingo last week, as the party's 2018 presidential candidate. Mugabe would be 94 during that time.

Reports indicate that Mugabe's deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is leading a faction calling itself "Team Lacoste" that is angling to succeed Mugabe when he eventually leaves office. On the other hand, First Lady Grace Mugabe, who now heads the women's wing of the revolutionary party, is allegedly heading another faction, made up of young Turks, calling itself Generation 40 (G40).

Although both Mnangagwa and the First Lady have denied that they are harbouring presidential ambitions, Zanu-PF insiders say power struggles are intensifying within the party as both factions are seeking to consolidate their power in both Zanu-PF and government structures.

Without aligning himself to any of the factions, Mapeture said there was nothing wrong with senior officials positioning themselves to lead the party and the country after Mugabe has left power.

'Looting and squabbling'

"There is nothing wrong with Vice President Mnangagwa being president after His Excellency RG Mugabe. The only issue is whether he meets the party criteria or not and whether he is going to win the provincial endorsements. If all that is met, then why not? Qualities can be improved in office," said Mapeture.

While Zanu-PF is busy causing confusion in order to win power, the opposition says it is doing all it can to wrestle power from the nonagenarian and his party.

Jealousy Mawarire, spokesperson of the Zimbabwe People First party led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru, said his party was focusing on building its structures in preparation for the 2018 polls.

"What we are seized with now is building our party structures and introducing our party programmes to every level of leadership in the society," said Mawarire.

"We do not care about the thugs in Zanu-PF. We know looting and squabbling are intrinsic values in any mafia organisation so we are not surprised when they fight and we don't read much into their skirmishes."

However, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said it was aware of the fact that Zanu-PF factions had a tendency of coalescing when they were faced with a common and strong adversary.

"A strong electoral coalition will be formed in time for the harmonised elections; that's for sure," said MDC Spokesperson Obert Gutu.

"We are not underestimating the capacity of Zanu-PF regime to rig the next elections. We know that this beleaguered regime will break the bank in order to retain power. However, we have sharpened our tools of detecting and thwarting the planned rigging. We are definitely going to resoundingly win the 2018 elections."