HARARE - The Zanu PF women’s league, which is agitating for President Robert Mugabe to appoint a woman as one of his two deputies before the end of this year — in a move that could put paid to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations — is shaking things up again.
The influential league yesterday challenged Mnangagwa to “come out clean” ahead of tomorrow’s politburo meeting about his mooted ambitions to succeed Mugabe, pointing out that “too many dubious people” were going about campaigning for him openly while the VP had not made his position on the matter clear.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News, the league’s forthright national secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka, also said Mnangagwa’s failure to disassociate himself from the repeated claims that he wanted Mugabe to step down ahead of the 2018 national elections gave the impression that those campaigning for him had his blessings.
The women’s league’s latest intervention in Zanu PF’s worsening factional and succession wars comes amid claims by Mnangagwa’s party foes that the Midlands godfather has upped his “power grab” efforts since the brutal purging from the former liberation movement of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her top allies in 2014.
“He (Mnangagwa) should just state his interests like what others who have been accused of the same mooted ambitions, including the First Lady (Grace Mugabe) and VP (Phelekezela) Mphoko have done, in the interests of the party.
“Why is he quiet about it and why is he seemingly hiding behind others? Does this mean that what we hear that he wants VaMugabe to go is true? Why is he not denying that if this is not true?” Mahoka asked.
She said even Zanu PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, who had also previously been accused of seeking to stampede Mugabe out of power, had moved to clear his name by unequivocally denying the claim in public.
Mahoka added that it was “instructive” that the media had dropped Mphoko’s, Grace’s and Kasukuwere’s names as possible successors to Mugabe since the trio denied in public that they harboured presidential ambitions — at a time that Mnangagwa’s supporters were openly showing their factional colours by coming up with regalia inscribed “Team Lacoste”.
She also repeated the refrain that has been repeatedly made by the Generation 40 group, which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa, that since Mujuru’s ouster from the ruling party on untested allegations of plotting to remove Mugabe from power and assassinate the nonagenarian, only one faction aligned to the VP remained in Zanu PF.
“Everyone knows that in the beginning there were two factions, which you the media even wrote about. One was led by Mujuru and was in contestation for power with another one which was said to be led by the VP. And now that Mujuru is gone, only one faction is left.
“Those who talk about another faction called the G40 should help us to identify who is behind it, where it operates from and how it recruits its members. In short, as the women’s league, we want to know what sort of an animal this G40 is.
“Otherwise for us, we have only heard about one faction causing problems in the party because they want our president out,” Mahoka said.
She also savaged the leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) for threatening to bar Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Kasukuwere from attending tomorrow’s and other future politburo meetings.
Mahoka said bluntly that the ZNLWVA’s mission was “an impossible one as they are merely an affiliate of the party which does not have that authority”.
“They are our war veterans whom we respect very much. But where do they derive their authority to bar politburo members who were appointed by the president from attending meetings?
“Kasukuwere, for example, can only be fired by the president himself upon recommendation by the Mashonaland Central provincial co-ordinating committee, not war veterans or any other affiliate organisation of the party.
“We also notice the way they (ZNLWVA’s leaders) are disrespecting party leaders that they are not guided by the party constitution. The party has rules which must be followed by everyone,” she said.
The women’s league’s sentiments come with added meaning and interest within the party as Zanu PF bigwigs are anticipating an explosive meeting when its politburo meets in Harare tomorrow, as the mindless bloodletting within the former liberation movement continues to escalate.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday at the weekend that so high were emotions within the two major party factions that are at war that it was increasingly becoming difficult to get the two camps to “even sit in the same room”.
“It’s dog-eat-dog all the way, until one side is totally vanquished. We are all sitting on the edge of our seats as Wednesday approaches, particularly given the acrimonious exchanges of the past few weeks,” a politburo member said.
Insiders also claimed that the politburo meeting was postponed from last week to this week due to the absence of Grace, who was said to have been travelling.
On one side of the party war is a faction that is supporting Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations — referred to as Team Lacoste — and on the other, the party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the G40, who are rabidly opposed to the VP succeeding Mugabe.
Over the past few weeks, bigwigs linked to the two main party factions have been shellacking each other savagely and publicly, with hawkish Information permanent secretary George Charamba and War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, on the side of Team Lacoste, exchanging barbs with Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who is linked with the G40.
And unable to respond to the unrelenting pummelling that they are receiving from the G40, the Mnangagwa faction is once again agitating for Moyo to be expelled from the party.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday said Team Lacoste “is only too aware that it cannot match” the G40 in the propaganda war, notwithstanding the fact that the camp now enjoyed unfettered control of State media.
One of the insiders linked to the VP’s camp said so angry were Mnangagwa’s allies with Moyo — whom they view as the mastermind of the G40 — that they would “push hard for his dismissal or suspension for at least five years” from the party at tomorrow’s politburo meeting.
Other sources said the strategy by Team Lacoste going into tomorrow’s politburo meeting was to isolate Moyo from the other perceived supporters and kingpins of the camp such as the First Lady, Mphoko, Kasukuwere and Mugabe’s nephew and Indigenisation minister, Patrick Zhuwao.
“Their plan is to decapitate the G40 brains trust, of which Moyo has been identified as the most dangerous and committed member. This is why they are planning to isolate him from the rest of the group and then push for his summary expulsion on Wednesday.
“Their problem is that their plot is transparent and will backfire on them. Vanyangira yaona (we have seen through their machinations) as exposed by State media over the past few weeks,” another politburo member said.