HARARE - Embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF allies are going for broke in their steely determination to swat down their party rivals, the cunning Generation 40 faction, and have the Midlands godfather succeed President Robert Mugabe.
After several suspended Zanu PF officials aligned to the VP publicly posed for pictures wearing T-shirts labelled “Team Lacoste” last week, in open defiance to Mugabe’s repeated calls for an end to the rampant factionalism devouring the ruling party, the faction also got wings at the weekend when a Midlands disciplinary committee controversially exonerated three of its leading lights who were under the gun there.
In the case of the VP’s supporters who defiantly donned the Team Lacoste regalia last week, their provocative T-shirts had a crocodile emblem painted in national colours — a move that Zanu PF insiders said indicated that the faction now had its own symbols outside of the usual party wear.
A super-confident Zanu PF official linked to Team Lacoste bragged to the Daily News yesterday that “all is on track notwithstanding the G40’s futile machinations and Ngwena (Mnangagwa) will take-over from Gushungo when the time comes”.
The bigwig also claimed that Mugabe and Mnangagwa had allegedly reached “a gentleman’s agreement” on the thorny succession issue when the VP went to meet the president in Dubai earlier this month.
All this comes as a Midlands party provincial disciplinary committee, which had been tasked with looking into allegations that three ministers from the region were being threatened and victimised by members of the Mnangagwa faction, came up with a resounding, albeit controversial anti-G40 verdict.
Chaired by regional vice chairperson Daniel MacKenzie, said to be an uber Mnangagwa loyalist, the committee spectacularly turned the tables on the supposed victims, accusing them of using the First Family’s name in vain to pursue their factional agendas.
As expected, the outcome has caused pandemonium in some Zanu PF circles, amid allegations that due process had not been followed and that the verdict meant that “successionists” (code for Team Lacoste) had effectively been given the licence to “run amok”.
A miffed regional party official who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the decision “to turn the victims into the accused is an open declaration by Team Lacoste that they want to unseat Gushungo now” and that they were not happy with the nonagenarian’s executive appointments.
“If the party allows this diabolic verdict to stand, then God have mercy as the successionists will have been given licence to run amok,” the angry official said.
“The sad reality is that when the three ministers reported their cases they knew they would never get fair treatment from their colleagues in the province.
“The reason why they raised the issue is that they wanted to prove that indeed there are attempts to create another centre of power in Zanu PF with roots in the Midlands province,” he added.
Another party source also claimed that it was a breach of the Zanu PF constitution that a central committee member was acting as the vice chairperson of Midlands province.
“A central committee member cannot be vice chairman of a province without the authority of the central committee through the politburo. First they set up a committee chaired by John Holder but later set up one with Mackenzie.
“The accused members were not charged ... and indeed continued with their roles in the party. This turned the disciplinary issue into a circus. Midlands has virtually defied the president (Mugabe),” the official said.
Another insider said as some of the accused persons were politburo members, the case should only have been handled by the national disciplinary committee.
“Initially, Mackenzie said an investigation would be carried out before the case could be decided and five days later an outcome was delivered without any hearings. This means that they had reached a conclusion without embarking on a hearing,” he said.
All this suggests that the next politburo meeting is once again likely to be a heated one as the factions fight to the death.
The Daily News also reported last week that as the post-congress Zanu PF battle to succeed Mugabe gets nastier and uglier, Mnangagwa’s allies, who together with him have been on the receiving end of unrelenting blows from their foes in the warring ruling party, were fighting back.
The secretary-general of the pro-Mnangagwa Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, told the daily newspaper that liberation struggle fighters were ready to stop the G40 in their tracks.
Matemadanda spoke in the wake of the recent ouster of War Veterans minister and ZNLWVA leader Christopher Mutsvangwa from the Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial co-ordinating committee, as well as growing talk of the imminent establishment of a rival war veterans body allegedly by Mnangagwa’s party enemies.
Well-placed sources had previously told the Daily News that the new war veterans’ body is to be known as the Zimbabwe War Veterans Heritage Trust (ZWVHT), and that it will in all likelihood be led by alleged G40 loyalists, Patrick Nyaruwata and Andy Mhlanga.
But the combative Matemadanda revealed yesterday that ZNLWVA provincial structures were moving with speed to flush out from within their ranks all the comrades who were linked to the ZWVHT.
“So far, we already have recommendations from Bulawayo and other provinces are finalising their lists. The provinces rightly think that they cannot continue to work with some of their colleagues that they seconded to the national executive because of their alleged counter-revolutionary activities that seek to illegally topple the association’s legitimate leadership.
“We are informed that these elements want to either form a splinter group or turn the existing one into their fiefdom, or one that plays to the tune of their masters.
“And just last week, their masters booked them at Rainbow Towers in Harare ahead of a meeting they had scheduled to discuss their plan, although it failed to take off after the war veterans’ leadership got wind of it,” Matemadanda charged.
He had also told the Daily News late last year that the G40 were “definitely” fighting to destroy Mnangagwa, by setting him up against Mugabe’s influential wife Grace.
“I don’t know why they are attacking Mnangagwa, quiet as he is. He has not talked to anyone, yet they attack him day in and day out, with some even producing party regalia, publishing pamphlets and alleging that these are Mnangagwa’s,” he said.
The clearly-pained Matemadanda also admitted that the battle to succeed Mugabe had now reached “fever-pitch”, with many people in the ruling party dreaming about taking over from the increasingly-frail nonagenarian.
“They want to set him (Mnangagwa) up against the First Lady, but he has not said anything about her and she has also not said a word against the VP.
“People are dreaming too high and think that they can just come from nowhere and be president. It does not happen like that. You have to wait for those that are there and support them,” he added.