HARARE - The titanic succession war raging in Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Midlands heartland, which has seen some of his most vocal supporters being hauled before a provincial disciplinary hearing for allegedly harassing three ministers and fanning Zanu PF’s rampant factionalism, is getting hotter.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that the latest point of conflict in the troubled province involved attempts by the factions locked in the mortal combat to influence the outcome of the hearings against the allies of the embattled VP who stand accused of intimidating the ministers who are said to be opposed to the Midlands godfather’s mooted presidential ambitions.
The regional bigwigs who are in trouble include Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Mayor Wadyajena, the youth provincial chairperson Edmore Samambwa and the provincial secretary for security Owen Ncube, all of whom could face the dreaded boot after the ministers — Anastasia Ndhlovu, Tapiwa Matangaidze and Makhosini Hlongwane — wrote to the top hierarcy of Zanu PF late last year complaining about harassment from the three.
“It’s aluta continua (struggle continues) to the death. They (factions) are now fighting to influence the outcome of the ongoing trial (of the VP’s key allies),” a provincial executive member said.
The provincial disciplinary committee, led by deputy regional chairperson Mackenzie Ncube, was given up to the end of last week to conclude its work by the party’s national disciplinary committee chaired by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
However, this did not happen, with insiders telling the Daily News yesterday that the regional structure was under “tremendous pressure” from both the G40 and Mnangagwa’s allies to take care of their respective interests.
“The committee is caught between a rock and a hard surface. Their position is unenviable because both camps want to ensure that they prevail at all costs because a lot is at stake. In fact, this is a do-or-die matter.
“The VP’s camp wants to send a message that Midlands is a no-go area for G40 by ensuring that Wadyajena and company emerge out of this unscathed, while on the other hand the other group wants to flex its muscles and prove that there are no sacred cows in the party,” the provincial executive member added.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mackenzie Ncube told the Daily News that his committee had finished receiving evidence from all the interested parties and was now assessing this with a view to coming up with a verdict.
“We are analysing the information we got at the weekend from both the accused and the complainants. We expect to be done soon, so you can check with me tomorrow,” Ncube said.
But an insider said given the sensitivity of the matter, it could take until the end of the week before a conclusion was reached.
“This is no small matter my friend. Remember that the directive to do this exercise came from the top and they want results soon.
“However, the complication is that apart from the pressure we are getting from interested parties, the complaint by the ministers against the three or four officials came as one but we felt that for us to deal with the case efficiently there was need for each of them to make their complaints individually, and so we asked them to do so.
“We are getting every detail we might need so that we are not found wanting when we come up with our verdict,” he said.
The committee’s recommendations will be forwarded to the national disciplinary committee, which is dominated by alleged G40 bigwigs who include national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, Mphoko and influential First Lady Grace Mugabe.
All this comes as the Daily News is reliably informed that the G40 are determined to have many of Mnangagwa’s allies booted out of the party as the group looks to press home its advantage in the party’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars.
“It is tickets for them. They are gone because the evidence against them is overwhelming.
“These people are just buying time, but it will not change anything,” a provincial executive member who is said to be aligned to the G40 said last week, confirming consistently accurate reports carried by this paper on the ugly goings-on in the province.
Apart from the threats allegedly directed at the ministers, the other accusations against Wadyajena relate to claims that he is allegedly disrespectful of the First Family.
He also stands accused of being behind the province’s recent youth wing resolution to replace Kasukuwere with someone with liberation war credentials, a demand that was made ahead of the party’s December annual conference in Victoria Falls.
And with critics noting that Mnangagwa was struggling to live up to the popular caricature of his nickname, that of a ruthless crocodile and his supporters being pummelled left, right and centre by the marauding G40, it remains to be seen whether “Lacoste” will finally come to the rescue of his foot soldiers.
But insiders who spoke to the newspaper pointed to what happened a decade ago when many of the VP’s most ardent supporters were decimated after the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration, after being accused of plotting to oust Mugabe from power.
The insiders claimed that history was repeating itself as his close allies were again being picked off one by one like lambs to the slaughter, further predicting that Lacoste, as Mnangagwa is fondly referred to by his loyal followers, would not do anything to protect leading members of his support group who were on the receiving end of the savage and unrelenting factional mauling.
Among the other allies of Mnangagwa who have recently come under severe pressure from inside Zanu PF are Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, former Manicaland women’s league chairperson Happiness Nyakuedzwa, and the power couple of Monica and Christopher Mutsvangwa.
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.
Recently, War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa — one of Mnangagwa’s closest and most vocal allies — also received a vote of no confidence from Mashonaland West province, putting both his party and government positions in jeopardy after he tried to take Kasukuwere head-on.
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 a 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.