HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has stamped authority over his fractious Zanu PF, pledging to deal with discord over the elevation of his wife, Grace to lead the party’s Women’s League.
This comes after the party’s youth claimed they were being victimised by a faction seen to be opposing Grace’s nomination.
Mugabe, who jetted into the country from China yesterday morning, flew into a storm to confront escalating tensions between youths from rival factions over Grace’s impending elevation to the party’s politburo.
Two factions, one allegedly led by Vice President Joice Mujuru and the other by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are embroiled in a bitter struggle to replace the 90-year-old Mugabe in a fashion that has left the ruling party on a cliff edge.
I’m in control
Godwin Gomwe, the Zanu PF chairperson for the youth league in Harare yesterday led youths to plead with Mugabe to censure party bigwigs whom he accused of victimising them for endorsing Grace.
But Mugabe pledged to look into the discord saying he was still in control of the 51-year-old movement in its entirety including the youth and women’s leagues.
“Handingaite president anonzi anoongorora chete zvevakuru achisiya zvevadiki, achisiya zvemadzimai. Handidi kuona avo vanoda kusevenzesa musangano kuti vazvisusukidze, imi makasarudzwa nevanhu, maakuda kuti vanhu vedu vave danhiko rekuti mukwire kumusoro vasina kukubvumirai, hatidi (I am the president of the whole party with all its wings including the youths and women. I don’t want to see people abusing their positions to coerce party members to elevate them to the top against their wishes, we don’t tolerate that),” said Mugabe as he also thanked the youths for resisting to be drawn into factional politics.
Grace’s entry into politics has added momentum to the intriguing factional fights in the ruling party with the elevation seen by some observers as a cunning move by Mugabe to thwart the divisions, while others view it as an attempt by the Mnangagwa faction to court favour from the Mugabe clan.
Grace is set to take over the reins from Oppah Muchinguri, at the party’s elective congress to be held in December.
The Mnangagwa faction also accuses the Mujuru camp of seeking to block the First Lady from climbing up the political ladder.
On their part however, Mujuru’s loyalists claim that they have always supported the First Lady. On Saturday, while delivering a key note address during the Mashonaland Central Zanu PF provincial coordination meeting in Bindura, Mujuru reiterated her support for Grace’s elevation.
“Murikutaura, chamuri kutaura taura chii?... Iko kutaura kwedu kusina maturo, kusina madoor , isu tichatsigira Zanu PF kusvika zvanaka... Isuwo toda kuisiya ichitonga ine vanhu vane hunhu, vari kuziva kwairi kubva nekwairi kuenda, ndozvatiri kuda izvozvo (What are the squabbles all about? Why do you speak badly about the party in public? We will continue supporting Zanu PF until eternity. We want to leave the party in power with disciplined people, who know the direction of the party and that is what we want).
“Mai Mugabe ngavapinde muZanu PF, tinofamba navo, tichibatsirana navo, tokopa basa rakanaka ravanoita, ndozvinhu zvikuru …zhowe zhowe yatakanzwa kumadzimai inopinza mhepo mumusangano, muri kukambenera maopposition parties (Let the First Lady join Zanu PF structures. What is this hullabaloo all about? We will be with her all the way, copy the good works that she does, that is the greatest thing. All the squabbling we hear is tantamount to campaigning for the opposition),” she said. Mugabe’s failure to appoint a possible successor has been cited by many as the reason for the ruling party’s raging wars.
What makes the war fascinating is the fact that Grace’s name has also been thrown around as a possible successor to Mugabe, though some analysts and political observers doubt she can make it.
As the days draw nearer for the party’s elective congress, the gloves are off, with reports of vote buying, abductions and smear campaigns taking centre stage.