In what appears to be the biggest clean-up exercise in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, Mashonaland Central province, the stronghold of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, is reported to have refused to endorse her for the central committee. According to The Herald, Labour Minister Nicholas Goche, a politburo member, is reported to have withdrawn his nomination while Education Minister Lazarus Dokora has also been ruled out. The purge, on people alleged to have been plotting to oust party leader President Robert Mugabe, comes only days before the party congress which is due next week. The party’s highest policy making body, the politburo, decided at the weekend to amend the party constitution to allow the president to choose his own members of the politburo. It also said the central committee nominations must be concluded before the middle of this week. The move has literary nullified all the campaigning for key posts of the two vice-presidents and the national chairman that sparked the infighting within the party as the posts have a bearing on Mugabe’s successor. The move to exclude Mujuru also has all the ingredients for a party split but for any split to have impact, there would need to be a mass walk-out. So far no split has been effective since ZANU-PF was formed 51 years ago. Top heavyweights within the party such as Ndabaningi Sithole the founding president, Edgar Tekere who was Mugabe’s number two, and Simba Makoni one of the leading contenders to take over from Mugabe, all fell by the wayside when they left the party. The same has happened to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Although secretary-general Welshman Ncube walked out with the majority of legislators in 2005, his faction lost heavily to party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s faction in 2008 and was literally wiped off the political map last year. A faction by maverick Job Sikhala failed to make it and he is back in the fold. The Tendai Biti group threatened to rock the party this year but it has now fizzled out. As Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said last week, the current in-fighting in ZANU-PF is healthy for party. It is more a case of testing strengths. “At the end of this process I believe we will come out stronger, more cohesive than ever before,” Chinamasa was quoted by Bloomberg news agency as saying. The question that us still unanswered is which faction will carry the day.