HARARE - Zanu PF’s Young Turks, who are known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, demonstrated beyond doubt yesterday that they currently have the upper hand in their brutal ruling party slugfest with the faction linked to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
And very ominously for the Midlands godfather and his Zanu PF allies, Mugabe also all but endorsed demands by the party’s women’s league for a return of the quota system, that is set to see the nonagenarian appointing a woman as one of his two deputies this year.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters in Harare yesterday — the majority of whom were G40 and women’s league members — ahead of the brawling ruling party’s keenly-watched politburo meeting, Mugabe emphasised the importance of the women’s league to the former liberation movement, and how it had a deserved history of always getting what it wanted.
This followed concerns by the forthright women’s league secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka, who bemoaned the fact that there were elements in the party who were accusing the league of plotting against Mnangagwa because they were demanding that one of their own be elevated to the presidium.
She also claimed that Mnangagwa’s allies in the Midlands province had allegedly harassed the league’s members and blocked buses that had been hired to ferry the women to yesterday’s gathering in the capital, to thank Mugabe for his “achievements” during his tenure as African Union chairperson.
“Zvisinei nezvipingaidzo zvamunosangana nazvo apo neapo, maitiro amaita musangano uno maratidza varume kuti mada kuita chiro munobuda shudhu (With the way you have organised this meeting, you have demonstrated to men that when you want something you go for it as a united, determined force).
“We are sorry that some women who were coming for this meeting were beaten up and that is wrong. We do not tolerate that in the party.
“Even at the provincial level there are rules ... and it is those people who must be sanctioned for their behaviour. So, commissar will have to know kuti ndekupi nekupi kwaitwa izvozvo (who has been responsible for the anarchy),” Mugabe said.
The nonagenarian spoke in the wake of the women’s league resolution at the party’s annual conference last December that one of Mugabe’s two deputies should be a woman, and that this must happen in 2016.
Speaking ahead of Mugabe, Mahoka — who was the runaway star of the pre-politburo show — lashed The Herald newspaper for “lying”, savaged Information permanent secretary George Charamba for his factional politics, and panned senior party officials who she said were disrespectful of the First Lady Grace Mugabe.
She also reiterated the league’s challenge to Mnangagwa earlier this week to publicly declare his interest in succeeding Mugabe, in the light of the campaign for him by his allies.
Mahoka added that Mnangagwa’s seeming reluctance to distance himself from the 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 VP is my brother and today we are asking you to reprimand people abusing your name. Do not behave like a duck that looks down while its children are being eaten. Stand up and say something like what VP Mphoko has done.
“I will say it publicly because I am not afraid to say so, although I know that I am now a target ... tinoona vana vakapfeka ma T-shirts akanzi Team Lacoste (we see youths wearing T-shirts with the Team Lacoste label) and so if you want to be president tell us.
“We also want to know president if you are the one who sent George Charamba to attack Cabinet ministers that you appointed, because he said he was speaking on your behalf,” Mahoka said, as Mnangagwa watched stone-faced.
Responding to this, Mugabe said he expected the party’s leadership to act responsibly and respect women, whom he described as the cornerstone of the ruling party.
“Tisina women’s league chokwadi hatikunde kana election kana kuhwina, saka hamusi vanhu vekutsvinyirwa kwete (Without women we would not win a single election, so we must treat you with respect).
“Mai Mahoka vangobata bata apo neapo asi tazvinzwa zvavanga vachitaura. (Mahoka has just touched on many things and we all got the gist of what she was saying).
“We need to look at the reasons why the people are complaining against us. We must talk about it so we can see. If the foundation is not well laid imba inodhirika (the house will fall). It will be affected by ants.
“Come out in the open and tell the leadership where they are going wrong, not to shout at each other. We cannot be the subject of discussion because of our infighting.
“We are giving ammunition to the likes of (MDC leader Morgan) Tsvangirai who now says government has been paralysed by the factional fights. He now thinks we are more divided than his party, forgetting that his party is no more,” Mugabe said.
Addressing the same gathering, First Lady Grace Mugabe blamed the recent attempt to bomb the First Family’s Gushungo Dairy on Zanu PF’s escalating factionalism.
“They wanted to bomb our farm. They even wanted to kill our children, but you know very well that the president is not one to be intimidated by that,” she said, adding that the party was now being forced to spend most of its time in the politburo dealing with disciplinary issues rather than bread and butter issues.
“Some people are now behaving as if they went to school to learn obscenities and the youths in particular are being used in this regard,” Grace said.