Although both the Politburo and the Central Committee have ratified the nominations for the presidium, the plenary session of congress opened by President Mugabe today meets in an atmosphere of unprecedented dissension. So nervous has the leadership become that journalists from the independent media are reported to be being barred from covering the event at the Harare International Conference Centre.This suggests that few are confident that the nominations will be confirmed without some opposition from the floor tomorrow.
It is almost as if all the frustrations that have been building up in the party over so many years are finally boiling over at this very public event. I had earlier voiced concern at the party's propensity to shoot itself in the foot. It looks set to surpass itself on this occasion. The factionalism that has re-emerged in the last few days came to a head on Wednesday when the provincial chairman of Manicaland province, Basil Nyabadza, resigned in a huff following heated arguments over the nomination of members to the presidium. With such bitter and open dissent between delegates at all levels of the party, the President is facing a real challenge over the next 24 hours to unite the party as was so badly needed. The increasingly wild speculation has even included suggestions that the Chief of Defence Forces intends to throw his hat in the ring for the succession.