Zanu-PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that among the high profile people who were set upon by the crazed youths were the party's national political commissar Victor Matemadanda and retired army colonel Panganai Kahuni.
The youths' barbaric reign of terror came amid growing fears in the country of a re-emergence of the notorious machete gangs scourge - which traumatised Zimbabweans last year before authorities eventually cracked down on it.
It also comes as Zanu-PF is engulfed in deepening factional fights ahead of the party's key district co-ordinating committee (DCC) polls, as well as parliamentary and local by-elections to replace MPs and councillors who have been recalled by the at-war MDC.
The youths first went on the rampage early this month, causing the abandonment of a parliamentary primary election to choose a Zanu-PF candidate for Kwekwe Central, following the death of National Patriotic Front MP Masango Matambanadzo in July.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, a still-stunned Zanu-PF Midlands provincial chairperson, Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, said the party was in a state of shock over what had happened and what the youths' motive was.
This had culminated in the regional party executive ordering a thorough probe into the nasty events, while also calling for severe punishment to be meted on the perpetrators.
So far, five people have been arrested in connection with the violence that also saw the rowdy Zanu-PF youths armed with machetes and iron bars storming the party's Kwekwe office and beating up everyone there, including polling agents and police officers.
"It was scary and we are still terrified because we do not know whether it was a result of genuine dissatisfaction or it was pre-planned. This has never happened here as far as I know," Mackenzie Ncube said.
He surmised that the anarchy was meant to embarrass President Emmerson Mnangagwa who hails from the Midlands province. As a result, he added, his provincial executive had met last weekend whereupon it resolved to punish the perpetrators of the violence severely.
"That it happened right at His Excellency's (Mnangagwa)'s door step makes it even worse and that explains why we insist that we must get to the bottom of the matter. We were caught unawares," Mackenzie Ncube said, adding that the probe into the matter would not be done at provincial level because "we could be investigating ourselves".
"At the end of the day, we must have answers to this and it is not possible for us to do anything as a province because we might be investigating ourselves, hence we referred it to the commissariat department because we cannot pretend it didn't happen," he said further.
The extremely violent youths also damaged party vehicles, including one belonging to Mackenzie Ncube's deputy, Rabson Nyathi - who was one of the people presiding over the primary elections. The election was pitting Kandros Mugabe and Energy Ncube in the battle to replace Matambanadzo.
The two aspiring candidates were said to be backed by senior party officials - with Matemadanda reportedly rallying behind Mugabe, while State Security minister Owen Ncube allegedly supported Ncube.
The Kwekwe violence broke out after presiding officers ordered the use of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission voters' roll for the internal polls, instead of the party list - which had reportedly been manipulated. It also took place amid reports that the youths were part of the re-grouping Al Shabaab gang - which was infamous for terrorising opposition supporters in the past.
The group was named after the dreaded Somali Islamist militants, and is now allegedly used by some Zanu-PF officials against both the opposition MDC and internal ruling party opponents.
The fiasco in Kwekwe took place as there are growing fears in Zanu-PF that the demons of factionalism that gutted the ruling party during the last few years in power of the late former President Robert Mugabe have returned with vengeance.
Confusion has also been the order of the day in the ruling party's primary elections in Harare to choose candidates to fill vacancies left after several opposition MDC MPs and councillors were recalled by their party. Despite holding primary elections in several constituencies - including in Epworth, Glen Norah, Harare Central, Highfield East, Highfield West, Kuwadzana, Kuwadzana East, Mufakose and St Mary's - the party is yet to release the poll results, amid claims that the elections were riddled with bribery and rampant cheating.
This comes as Zanu-PF is also preparing for its divisive DCC polls, which have been marred by allegations of dirty money changing hands and ugly factional fights allegedly pitting party camps said to be loyal to Mnangagwa and one of his deputies Constantino Chiwenga. But war veterans vehemently denied the existence of bad blood between the two bigwigs earlier this week, adding that Chiwenga was solidly behind Mnangagwa.
Matemadanda, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, told the Daily News that Chiwenga had been at the forefront of endorsing Mnangagwa for a second term.
"Our party constitution provides that the president elected by congress automatically becomes the party's candidate. "Even if that was not the case, President Mnangagwa's term of office allows him to stand in 2023. So, that makes him the sole party candidate," he said.
"In any event, party wings, including some affiliate organisations of the party, have already endorsed him as the candidate … that also includes Vice President Chiwenga. If you remember in Esigodini, he (Chiwenga) said the party is not going to disturb his (ED's) second term. So, that is what the party membership agreed," Matemadanda added.
Speaking in December 2018, at the Zanu-PF annual conference in Esigodini, Chiwenga pledged his total support for Mnangagwa. Then, he chanted the conference slogan, "2023 ED-PFee" when he introduced Mnangagwa to party supporters.
"On behalf of all delegates who have come from the four corners of the country, I want to thank you … I also want it heard here and far; from now until 2023, when the next elections fall due, that you are our one and only presidential candidate. In that plebiscite, our national Constitution allows you two full terms which you shall have so that the party Zanu-PF continues to draw from your wise, compassionate leadership.
"We will not wait for 2023. We start now to prepare for your victory which we know is sure to come," Chiwenga said. Zanu-PF's DCC structures elect the party's 10 provincial executives - from where the former liberation movement draws members of its central committee and the politburo.
The party's DCCs were disbanded in 2012 after they were deemed to be fanning factionalism during Mnangagwa and former vice president Joice Mujuru's battles to succeed Mugabe.
Then, Mnangagwa's group had gained control of most regions, including Mujuru's Mashonaland Central province - putting him in a strong position ahead of the party's 2014 congress.
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