Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu PF opened its two day annual conference December 11, 2015 amid calls for President Robert Mugabe to be given the nod to rule for life.
President Mugabe admitted early in the week that his party faced a possible spit because of infighting caused by divisions over his succession.
The party is now divided into two major factions backing First Lady Grace Mugabe and Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa.
President Mugabe’s 50 year-old wife has emerged as a power broker in the party that has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
Besides the resolution to declare the 91-year old leader president for life, the now increasingly powerful women’s league wants one of the two posts of vice-presidents reserved for women.
If the resolution sails through, it would pave way for the First Lady to be elevated to the presidium and the demotion of Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa.
Mr Mnangagwa who was appointed last December after the expulsion of Zimbabwe’s first female Vice-President Joice Mujuru and has been seen as President Mugabe’s likely successor.
However, indications are that his faction is now on the back foot with the First Lady’s group in the ascendancy.
Ms Eunice Sandi Moyo, the Zanu PF women’s league deputy secretary said the demands for female vice president were justified because the country’s constitution demanded gender parity.
“The women’s league has passed a resolution for 50-50 representation between men and women, she told the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.
As women we are serious about it. We don’t need to vigorously push for this because this is a position taken and supported by women countrywide. It’s only natural that it should be adopted.
Ms Sandi Moyo brushed aside accusations that the demands were influenced by the desire to build the First Lady’s power base.
“You must also remember that during the constitution-making exercise women were asked their views and the consensus was that they wanted gender balance, she said.
Before the national executive met, women from all over the country met on Friday last week and came up with those resolutions.
So this is not a resolution from the national executives, it’s a resolution from women. We expect the resolution to be adopted by conference.
President Mugabe on Friday said the divisions in Zanu PF had also permeated to the military and intelligence.
He bemoaned corruption that he said was threatening the country’s relations with China.