VP allies get death threats

MUTARE - The seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars ripping President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF apart have now taken an ominous turn in Manicaland, with regional women’s league members seen as working against the nonagenarian’s controversial wife Grace receiving death threats.

At the centre of the increasingly-ugly ructions in the troubled province is a push by alleged proxies of Grace to oust from power the party’s regional women’s league chairperson, Happiness Nyakuedzwa, who is perceived to be anti-Grace and pro-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and provincial godmother Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.

The popular, but under-siege Nyakuedzwa told the Daily News yesterday that some members of her executive team had called her in tears after having been threatened with death if they continued to defy orders “from above”“Some executive members called me crying saying that they were being threatened. Some of them were even told that their heads would be found under tables,” she said, before once again rubbishing claims by her party foes that she had been booted out of power.

Other provincial women’s league members also confirmed the threats, saying that some overzealous members in the region, claiming to be carrying out Grace’s mandate, were moving around boasting that they had been sent on a “provincial cleansing exercise”.

“Things are getting out of hand now, with many people using the name of the first lady to cause havoc in the province. We don’t believe that she (Grace) is behind this thuggery,” one of them said.

The Daily News reported earlier this week that Mnangagwa’s allies claimed that Grace was working overtime to weaken the VP through “devious means” as well as through her proxies in the province.

This emerged at a tense meeting of the Manicaland women’s league that was held in Mutare on Monday, which defiantly overturned a purported vote of no confidence that was passed last weekend against Nyakuedzwa.

Attendees who spoke at the emotive meeting claimed that Grace was using the party’s co-Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere to annihilate all of Mnangagwa’s perceived allies — in the same manner in which former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters had been decimated late last year.

They said Kasukuwere, who is leading the party’s divisive restructuring exercise and head of Zanu PF’s disciplinary committee Mphoko, were working as “a destructive tag team” in pursuit of their and Grace’s claimed agenda to stem Mnangagwa’s alleged presidential ambitions.

All of the league’s Manicaland districts, except for Mutare, attended the meeting, while regional minister Mandi Chimene — an avowed ally of the first lady — was absent from the tense indaba as she was said to have travelled with Grace to China.

And although the original petition to kick out Nyakuedzwa was said to have been signed by 28 members of the league, 25 of them “changed their minds” on Monday, endorsing the leadership of their regional chairperson.

Buhera women’s quota legislator, Kerenia Uta Chimuso, said at the meeting that she had been called last week by one of Grace’s alleged runners, who told her that the petition against Nyakuedzwa had originated from the first lady’s office. The alleged runner even asked to sign the petition on Chimuso’s behalf.

“I told them that if you sign for me I will have you arrested for forgery,” Chimuso said.

A Buhera delegate also said she had been threatened “for three hours”, after which she had been forced to sign the vote of no confidence petition against Nyakuedzwa.

Another woman revealed that she been told “point blank by the first lady’s foot soldiers” that all of Mnangagwa’s allies, who include top government officials and senior party officials, would be booted out from the party before year end.

Yet another women’s league member said she had been told by the same runners that after Nyakuedzwa’s purported ouster from her position, Muchinguri-Kashiri and Investment Promotion deputy minister Monica Mutsvangwa — wife of War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa — would be next”.

Tendai Nyabanga, the deputy political commissar in the provincial women’s league, also claimed that members had been forced to sign the anti-Nyakuedzwa petition by Grace’s emissaries.

Monica Mutsvangwa, who was part of four national women’s league executive members who monitored the Monday meeting, tried to absolve Grace from the debacle, saying Mugabe’s wife would never impose leaders on the people, adding that Zanu PF had a clear constitution which had not been followed in the attempt to dethrone Nyakuedzwa.

“If we follow the constitution, we would not get lost ... Zanu PF has procedures that need to be followed. According to the constitution, a vote of no confidence should be passed in a meeting and not clandestinely as happened.

“The first lady does not impose leadership, — (she is too senior to do that),” Mutsvangwa said.

Meanwhile, well-placed sources have told the Daily News that more senior officials loyal to Mnangagwa are set to face the chop, as the VP’s party enemies ratchet up the pressure on him and his supporters.

Last week, a number of youth league leaders in Mashonaland Central who are seen as loyal to the VP — including Godfrey Tsenengamu and Paul Rwodzi — were booted out of their positions on what insiders claimed were “dubious reasons” instigated by a hardline party faction comprising ambitious elements linked to the so-called Generation 40 (G40) and reportedly working closely with Grace.

“Mnangagwa’s enemies are going for broke against him and his allies. The G40, supported by Grace, wants to make sure that by the time the party’s December conference in Victoria Falls comes, they would  have completely castrated him,” one of the sources said.

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