HARARE - Post-congress Zanu PF bigwigs opposed to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe have vowed that a woman will return to the ruling party’s powerful presidium this year, most likely at his expense.
Speaking to the Daily News at the weekend, party officials linked to the former liberation movement’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40), who are said to be working closely with the women’s league to derail Mnangagwa, said Senate president Edna Madzongwe, and not First Lady Grace Mugabe, was likely to be the woman VP.
“It is now a question of when in 2016, not whether we will have a woman VP. Last December’s (Zanu PF) conference set a clear deadline that 2016 would be the year that gender parity would be realised in the presidium.
“Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing will stop women from realising their long-cherished dream, and that woman is likely to be Mai Madzongwe, and not Dr Amai (Grace), whom you guys wrongly accused of wanting to succeed the president,” one of the bigwigs said.
Insiders agree that if the increasingly frail Mugabe does move to appoint a woman vice president this year, in line with the wishes of Zanu PF’s women’s league and the majority of the party’s provinces, this will most likely see Mnangagwa being demoted to a lower position.
Women’s league senior member and Goromonzi West MP, Beatrice Nyamupinga — who is also the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development — told the Daily News yesterday that while 2015 had variously been dubbed Gore Rezvidzidzo (the year of learning), 2016 was the Women’s Year.
She called on men to warm up to the idea of a woman occupying the second highest office in the land if Zimbabwe entertained any hopes of developing the nation.
“We want women to start from the top where crucial decisions are made because we have seen women do well the world over.
“They have excelled in universities and if they can shine in academia what can stop them from shining in national governance as vice president?” Nyamupinga said.
She noted that other countries in the Sadc region, such as Zambia where the vice president Inonge Mutukwa Wina was a woman, were advanced in promoting women.
And speaking while addressing Zanu PF supporters in her constituency at the weekend, Nyamupinga assured them that the party would soon have a woman deputising Mugabe.
“Do not worry yourselves folks, we made a resolution which was tabled at the conference in Victoria Falls that whenever a man leads, there must be a woman vice president and that will come to pass soon,” she said to applause.
Meanwhile, another well-placed source told the Daily News at the weekend that Mnangagwa had allegedly had a major fall out with the First Family, which — if true — further dimmed his hopes of succeeding Mugabe.
The source claimed that this was the reason why VP Phelekezela Mphoko had once again been chosen to be the acting president, for the second successive occasion, instead of Mnangagwa, while Mugabe was on his normal festive season break.
“The last time Mugabe was out of the country when he went to South Africa for the Sino-African summit it was Mphoko who was acting president.
“Under normal circumstances, it was supposed to have been Ngwena’s (Mnangagwa’s) turn but that did not happen,” the insider pointed out.
And with Mnangagwa struggling to live up to the popular caricature of his nickname, that of a ruthless crocodile, in Zanu PF’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars, his supporters are being pummelled left, right and centre by their marauding party foes.
Just like what happened a decade ago when many of his most ardent supporters were decimated after the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration, after being accused of plotting to oust Mugabe from power, history appears to be repeating itself with his close allies again being picked off one by one by their party enemies, like lambs to the slaughter.
And Lacoste himself, as Mnangagwa is fondly referred to by his loyal followers, once again stands accused of doing little that is visible in the public domain to protect leading members of his support group who are on the receiving end of the savage and unrelenting factional mauling.
Among the alleged allies of Mnangagwa who have recently come under severe pressure from inside Zanu PF are Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, former Manicaland women’s league chairperson Happiness Nyakuedzwa, and the power couple of Monica and Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Wadyajena stands accused of denigrating Grace while he was allegedly engaging in “political banter” with businessman and fellow Zanu PF official Jimayi Muduvuri during the ruling party’s December conference that was held in Victoria Falls.
Nyakuedzwa and another alleged VP close ally, former Mashonaland Central youth league chairperson Godfrey Tsenengamu, were recently suspended from the ruling party for five years on allegations of fanning factionalism.
Former Harare provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa, former Harare women’s league chairperson Ratidzo Mukarati and former Masvingo chairperson Paradzai Chakona — all perceived strong backers of Mnangagwa — have also suffered votes of no confidence that were upheld by the party.
Mutsvangwa — another one of Mnangagwa’s alleged close allies — also received a vote of no confidence from Mashonaland West province, putting his party and government positions in jeopardy.
Mutsvangwa’s wife, Monica — a deputy minister — was also recently booted out of the women’s league for defying the First Family, while Muchinguri-Kashiri came under severe shellacking in Manicaland and in a recent politburo meeting.
Muchinguri-Kashiri’s troubles, according to insiders who spoke to the Daily News, came after she allegedly told Grace in the politburo meeting that she was the most senior party official in Manicaland, and thus always needed to be consulted on important decisions impacting on the region — in addition to insinuating that Grace had allegedly failed to run the women’s league properly.
“This angered Amai (Grace) and as she spoke, she got angrier and angrier, saying ‘wakabvira kare uchindijairira ... (You have never respected me)” — apparently going on to give Muchinguri-Kashiri a severe tongue-lashing which resulted in the Water minister crying.
And there is no record in all these cases that Mnangagwa has done much to support or protect his allies, a failing that well-placed sources say the VP was guilty of in 2004/5 when his supporters were cast into the political wilderness for fighting for him.