There are signs of friction emerging within the youth wing of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party. Some members are reportedly disillusioned with the leadership of national secretary Tino Machakaire, while his deputy John Paradza is gaining popularity.

Machakaire was appointed to the position by party leader Emmerson Mnangagwa earlier this year. Paradza, on the other hand, was elected by youth wing members in 2021.

According to sources, Machakaire has struggled to attract large crowds at youth meetings, in contrast to Paradza who has spoken to bumper youth gatherings around the country.

At a recent inter-district meeting in Kwekwe, Machakaire addressed a small crowd that left him displeased, sources said. Many ZANU-PF youth members from surrounding areas reportedly did not attend the event.

However, both Machakaire and Paradza have denied any rift between them. When contacted for comment, Paradza said “There is no bad blood between me and my boss. We have been organizing the meetings together.”

Still, observers note that should divisions within the youth wing grow, it could undermine ZANU-PF’s campaign efforts ahead of elections scheduled for later this year. Historically the youth wing has played an important role in mobilizing support for the ruling party.

For now, ZANU-PF officials are putting on a brave face, insisting unity remains within the youth wing. But questions remain about Machakaire’s ability to effectively lead the organization into the vote.