HARARE - After a week in which the political pendulum briefly appeared to swing in favour of the Zanu PF faction rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, things are once again looking ominous for Team Lacoste, as the ruling party’s politburo meets in Harare today.
In fact so confident of Team Lacoste’s pending annihilation yesterday was a politburo member widely seen as opposed to Mnangagwa, that he told the Daily News that the VP’s camp was “toast”.
“Listen, it’s all over for the successionists (Mnangagwa and his allies). They are toast. This is why State media is desperately trying to crank up its propaganda in favour of the dispirited successionists. But all this is too little too late,” the senior Zanu PF official said.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday also said the tide had taken a sudden turn for the worse for the Mnangagwa faction over the past two days, following a week in which Team Lacoste had appeared to have wrestled the initiative from its opponents, the Generation 40 group.
State media, now said to be in the firm clutches of the Mnangagwa camp, reported yesterday that Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, and members of the party’s women’s league, were allegedly organising a massive demonstration in Harare today — against Mnangagwa, War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and Information permanent secretary George Charamba — ahead of the keenly-watched politburo meeting which is expected to ignite fireworks.
Zanu PF Harare political commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe confirmed to the Daily News last night that the “pro-Mugabe” demo would go ahead as planned, and that more than 15 000 supporters from around the country would take part in it.
It is also reliably understood that despite efforts by the Mnangagwa camp to stop the demo, President Robert Mugabe had apparently given it his blessing — a big blow and ominous statement to Team Lacoste.
On his part, Kasukuwere had said the demonstration would be for the purpose of thanking Mugabe “for what he has done for the nation and also his successful tour of the AU (African Union)”.
At the same time, the Zanu PF women’s league, which is agitating for 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 Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations — has challenged the VP to “come out clean” about his ambitions, 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 on Monday, 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.
“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 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.
And as if this was not enough, Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao moved to refute claims by Mutsvangwa that the two had agreed to differ on their divergent political positions — revealing further that he wanted the war veterans’ leader to be purged from the ruling party.
“I wish to correct an impression created by Chris Mutsvangwa wherein he indicated he has a modus vivendi with Kasukuwere and Zhuwao. I wish to state that I have not agreed to disagree with Chris Mutsvangwa, especially in light of his stated cordial relations with the EU, which has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and still maintains them.”
“I can never reach accommodation with those that hob-nob with such retrogressive forces who have a proven track record of consistently attempting to effect regime change in Zimbabwe and thus undermining sovereignty of this nation,” Zhuwao said as pressure mounts on Team Lacoste.
Meanwhile, the presentation by the Zanu PF resolutions committee chairperson, Patrick Chinamasa, at today’s politburo meeting on the resolutions passed at the party’s Victoria Falls conference last December, will be keenly followed — particularly with regards to the demand by the women’s league that one of their own be elevated to the party’s presidium.
Mahoka, told the Daily News yesterday that they expected the party to “readily adopt” the resolution.
“Chatiri kunyanya kutarisa ndechekuti chef (Mugabe) vachitipa chinhu chedu sezvo takawirirana kuti vanotipa muna 2016 muno (What we are expecting is for the president to appoint a woman VP this year as per our resolution).
“We do not expect to encounter any obstacles because this came from the 10 provinces and this was backed by everyone including men. You all saw the dancing and celebrations when the resolution was announced at the conference,” Mahoka said.
Chipping in, and speaking in her capacity as the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Goromonzi West MP Beata Nyamupinga said women were hoping that the politburo would take their resolutions seriously.
“To us it should be a done deal. We expect the party’s one centre of power to act decisively on this one so that it is settled once and for all because this is February already and we have since lost a month in 2016.
“We said we want that implemented this year (the women’s quota system) and we still hope that anytime this year we will have a woman vice president.
“The outcome of the politburo meeting will tell us whether women issues are being taken seriously by the leadership,” Nyamupinga said.