HARARE - The nasty succession brawl between two of the post-congress Zanu PF’s factions that are linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the party’s ambitious Young Turks, who are known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, is getting uglier by the day.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News yesterday that the G40 — who apparently enjoy the support of President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly influential wife, Grace, and the country’s other VP, Phelekezela Mphoko — were now “even more determined and doing everything in their power” to scupper Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding Mugabe.
One of the sources said it had not helped Mnangagwa’s cause that he had recently been caught up in a damaging controversy in which he was alleged to have insulted the late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, a situation that had opened a floodgate of withering criticism from his party foes who were said to be now also playing the tribal card against him.
“The G40 think that they have ED (Mnangagwa) against the ropes, and that they should now go for the kill and finish him off. They have even suggested to Mphoko that he could succeed the president instead of Ngwena (Mnangagwa), whom they are working hard to destroy,” the usually reliable source said.
And yesterday, ominous cellphone messages, ostensibly generated by the G40, were being sent out to many of Mnangagwa’s perceived loyalists, calling on the VP to apologise to Grace and tow the party line, or else his political career within Zanu PF would be finished.
“Come and apologise or we will deal with you, similar to the way we dealt with Mai Mujuru (former Vice President Joice Mujuru),” read one of the messages seen by the Daily News.
Efforts to reach the number that was used to convey the messages yesterday were futile, as the line appeared to be no longer in use.
Another one of the messages that the Daily News saw, mocked Mnangagwa as a spent force, whose much-talked about ruthless streak was no longer a threat to the G40.
“Ngwena yaparara haisisiri mumvura saka ngaiparadzwe (The crocodile is finished. It’s no longer in the water and let us finish it off),” the message read.
It could not be established last night who exactly was behind this slew of messages and whether this was in direct retaliation of alleged menacing messages that have recently been sent to some of the assumed kingpins of the G40.
And to worsen the bad blood between the two factions, the Daily News also learnt yesterday that Mnangagwa’s supporters had, apparently in direct response to the provocative T-shirts that were unveiled at the late Sikhanyiso Ndlovu’s Heroes Acre burial last weekend — which appeared to promote Grace at Mnangagwa’s expense — also printed their own T-shirts with the face of Mugabe and the VP Mnangagwa, emblazoned with the words, “Munhu wese kunana baba”, a clear dig at the G40 camp which is saying, “Munhu wese kunaAmai.”
“Munhu wese kunana baba” in the post-congress lexicon asserts Mugabe’s supremacy and the party’s so-called one centre of power, while the G40’s “Munhu wese kunaAmai” accords Grace co-leadership of Zanu PF and the country.
However, some of Mnangagwa’s closest allies flatly denied that their camp ever printed the new T-shirts, saying it was a desperate attempt by the G40 to further open the VP to fresh criticism.
So deep and open have the divisions within the post-congress Zanu PF become, that Mnangagwa is no longer respected as Mugabe’s second in command, with him and his allies now derisively referred to as “secessionists”.
“This war is getting uglier and can only end when one of these two factions is completely annihilated by the other,” another senior Zanu PF official said.
Zanu PF members who attended the party’s star rally in Marondera last weekend, ahead of by-elections there, told the Daily News that they had been left completely “stunned” when two Cabinet ministers (names given) broke all protocol and left the venue of the rally before Mnangagwa departed — the highest form of contempt towards the under fire VP.
Giving examples of how much the Mnangagwa faction was increasingly coming under the cosh, another senior party official said a number of alleged key allies of the VP had either been suspended from the warring ruling party or had been publicly humiliated over the past few months, with Grace said to be at the centre of the “project”.
An insider claimed that Zanu PF officials sympathetic to Mnangagwa were also being targeted for arrest, with former Mashonaland Central youth chairperson, Godfrey Tsenengamu, one of the examples provided after he was recently arrested on stock theft charges, while the province’s resident minister, Martin Dinha, is also facing charges of abusing office.
Dinha has vehemently denied the accusations, saying they were politically contrived to soil his reputation.
All this is happening as some analysts have dismissed Grace’s chances of succeeding her ailing husband once he departs the political scene.
“Her chances depend on her husband leaving power voluntarily and supporting her bid before his demise.
“If they wait until after his demise, then she will have absolutely no chance because her political weight, which makes her look like a heavyweight, is borrowed from her husband and when he’s gone, he will take it away with him and she will drop down to the featherweight division,” Alex Magaisa, a leading academic said.
What has encouraged the G40 camp is the clause in the new national Constitution which clearly spells that if Mugabe is to resign or is incapacitated or dies, the last acting president will take over for 90 days, after which his party has to elect a successor for the remainder of his term.
In addition, Zanu PF’s constitution gives room for anyone to succeed Mugabe, as whoever that person will be only has to be nominated by two provinces and win a national primary election in which party members will vote by secret ballot.
A recent move by some of Mnangagwa’s supporters to demonstrate against the alleged G40 kingpin and Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, was reportedly blocked by Grace.
But of particular concern to the G40 and other Mnangagwa opponents are the recent Cabinet appointments which saw several of his alleged allies being appointed ministers.