HARARE - As Zanu PF’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars become more manic, the party petition aimed at ousting embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from both his party and government positions has taken off.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News — which has consistently and accurately written about the ugly goings-on in the former liberation movement over the past five years — that the VP’s determined party foes began gathering signatures on Saturday, amid fears of violence over the petition.
One of the sources, a central committee member linked to the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) — who are rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa — claimed yesterday that there had been an “overwhelming response” to the petition.
He added that the sponsors of the petition were on track to gather more than the 600 000 signatures that they initially planned to solicit around the country — at an average of 60 000 signatures per province.
But the secretary-general of the pro-Mnangagwa Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, told the Daily News that liberation struggle fighters would strongly oppose the petition to ensure that it failed.
“Matemadanda is part of the minority in the party who are desperately trying to push a hard-sell candidate (Mnangagwa). Haatengeseki (Mnangagwa is unelectable).
“All the provinces are supporting this petition and it has started as we speak. There is no going back,” the central committee member who spoke to the Daily News said.
It is planned that the signed petition will be handed over to the party’s central committee and politburo “for actioning” in the next few weeks.
Another senior party official opposed to Mnangagwa alleged that the beleaguered VP’s “transgressions now far outweigh those of (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru” — in a clear hint that he could face the same brutal fate that befell the popular widow of the late liberation struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru.
Mnangagwa’s enemies accuse the Midlands godfather of breaching party codes by allegedly leading a faction for the purpose of plotting to irregularly succeed President Robert Mugabe.
His faction also stands accused of setting up parallel party structures, including creating their own emblems under the so-called Team Lacoste label, as was publicly seen at a funeral a fortnight ago.
Mnangagwa’s party detractors say it is revealing that the VP has not looked interested in disassociating himself from the “suicidal actions” of his backers, such as those who publicly posed for pictures recently wearing controversial T-shirts labelled Team Lacoste.
Still, Matemadanda said the VP’s party foes were wrong to try and “decide who becomes vice president and who does not” as this could not be “decided by people on the streets”.
“They say they want to gather signatures against VP Mnangagwa but we will not allow that to happen, especially if the process is led by one who deserted the war and went to study in America,” he said in a thinly-veiled attack aimed at Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
“We are not going to allow people to disobey the president. So, we will stop whoever wants to solicit for those signatures by whatever means that will make them listen to us. If people do not want to respect our president, we will force them to do so.
“What we are also going to do is to make sure that Jonathan (Moyo) is not allowed into future politburo meetings until he learns to respect the president and his spokesperson (George Charamba). We will create barricades at the party headquarters to stop him from attending the politburo,” he said ominously.
Matemadanda also punted the same arguments that Charamba made last week in his controversial radio interviews, that some politburo members were leaking party secrets to the media.
In his rant, Charamba labelled ruling party officials opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe as “foolish successionists” who were bound to lose this war.
He also accused the G40 brains trust of harbouring “sinister minds that speak in the name of the president but who are in fact successionists” — sentiments that provoked an angry retort from Moyo, who said Charamba’s views had become more and more political beyond what was expected from civil servants as he worked “in aid of a desperate faction”.
Matemadanda accused Moyo of defying Mugabe through his continued posting of party debates via social media.
“The president spoke against people who use social media to attack others but some leaders in the politburo and Cabinet have continued to do that, especially the one who was attacked by the presidential spokesperson,” he said.
“When today the president says no to social media and the next morning you see six seven more tweets, that is alien to Zanu PF.
“Even during the war, anyone who disobeyed authority we said apisira (he has run foul of the rules) but this current crop of leaders do not care about obeying the president because they have an agenda.
“They are in Zanu PF for convenience and that is why they were attacked by the presidential spokesperson,” Matemadanda said, adding that it was outside the purview of the G40 to decide who became VP or didn’t, as this was Mugabe’s prerogative.
“We saw it a long time ago that they were up to no good and now as war veterans we are saying no, no and that is why we have been fighting them all along because they were attacking people appointed by our president.
“They want to decide who becomes vice president and who does not but that cannot be decided by people on the streets,” he said.
But so fed-up with Mnangagwa and his allies are his Zanu PF detractors that many of them have resolved that now is the time to move in for the kill.
“Successionists (Zanu PF code for Mnangagwa faction) have caused enough damage in the party as seen in the Midlands fiasco of the past few weeks. The party cannot be allowed to crumble because of the misplaced ambitions of one man and his suicide bombers.
“Because of this, comrades have resolved to campaign vigorously for a petition in all the party’s provinces calling for the ouster of Ngwena (Mnangagwa), as a way of ending the terrible fights and unnecessary confusion engulfing the party. We are now sick of it all,” a party official linked to the G40 said last week.
The G40 — who Mnangagwa’s allies say include Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Mugabe’s nephew and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao, and Moyo among others — are said to enjoy the backing of Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and influential First Lady Grace Mugabe.