HARARE - It appears as if it does not rain, but pours for the beleaguered Zanu PF faction that is said to be rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.
After enduring two miserable weeks — that included getting a damaging public shellacking from First Lady Grace Mugabe, receiving unspeakable insults from Zanu PF youths, and suffering a savage battering at the hands of police — Team Lacoste now also stands accused of committing the grave party sin of plotting to scuttle President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash slated for next week.
Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday said if these latest allegations were proven to be true, and it was established that the Mnangagwa faction was indeed behind the “foolish stunts” to scupper Mugabe’s Masvingo jamboree, this would probably spell “the end” of both the Midlands godfather and his allies.
“Remember Gushungo (Mugabe) has tried to be neutral in the current (party) crisis, clearly believing that the best way for him to keep the party together is to be circumspect about the problems. But this (the new claims) could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“As it is, Ngwena (Mnangagwa) is under serious pressure to abandon and speak against those that are running around like headless chickens in his name to save his skin. The last thing that he needs is this, as it could finish him off,” a Zanu PF politburo member who says he is “non-aligned” said.
Speaking to youths in Bindura on Thursday, Zanu PF deputy secretary for the youth league, Kudzai Chipanga — who is also a politburo member — sensationally claimed that pamphlets were being distributed around the country, with the false message that Mugabe’s birthday celebrations had been cancelled.
“We have people who are saying they love president Mugabe only to plot against our president during the night. We respect our war veterans, but among them there are people who have lost the way.
“Christopher (Mutsvangwa) and (Victor) Matemadanda have lost the liberation struggle path. They are now working with the British to call for Mugabe’s ouster.
“They are writing some pamphlets saying that the president’s birthday bash has been cancelled, but we are saying that the event is going ahead in broad daylight as scheduled, whether you like it or not.
“What Mutsvangwa is saying is akin to what we call in Shona zvivindi zvegonzo kurota richipfimba mwana wekatsi (Mutsvangwa is day-dreaming),” Chipanga thundered.
National youth political commissar, Innocent Hamandishe, also claimed that some war veterans, backed by the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (Zicosu), were in the process of ensuring that Mugabe’s birthday bash flopped.
“We also have affiliate organisations like Zicosu which are saying they want to block the president’s bash until he apologises to Mutsvangwa because the first lady allegedly insulted him. What stupidity from a few young people who do not even know how it all started,” Hamandishe said.
“We have discovered that some of the Zicosu leaders were bought vehicles. Let me warn you that the cars could lead to your death. There is no one who has the power to stop the bash. It is a youth league event. They say we want the president but he should rein in his wife, you are stupid. It’s absolute madness,” Hamandishe added.
Because of what was happening in Zanu PF, the youth league leaders say they are on high alert and will not stand aside while those they accuse of plotting to grab power from Mugabe run amok — especially some party bigwigs in the Midlands Province, Mnangagwa’s heartland.
“They are promising people that they want to mobilise their supporters to fight president Mugabe and the first lady, but we are saying we are going to defend the president.
“Nobody will touch the First Family when the youth league is there. Even in the Bible it is written that you cannot go to God without passing through Jesus. In politics we are saying you cannot touch our president before you defeat the youth league.
“You will have to kill all of us in the youth league and the youths around the country for you to get to him,” Chipanga warned, adding that the youth league only respected war veterans who had respect for Mugabe and Grace.
There were also unconfirmed claims yesterday that so vicious and seemingly intractable had Zanu PF’s fights become, that some youths in the warring party were now allegedly burning T-shirts bearing Grace’s face.
Youth league national secretary for finance, Tongai Kasukuwere, said some of the youths who were turning against Mugabe and allegedly burning Grace’s T-shirts were once their allies when they fought together against former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies.
“If it (defending Mugabe) will lead to our death, we are prepared to die because the moment we see people burning the first lady’s T-shirts then we cannot allow that.
“We are ready to lay our lives on the block in defence of our father. We want youths who are vigilant. If you lose the way, you risk hurting yourself,” he said.
In the meantime, our sister paper, the Daily News also reported last week that if any further proof was required to show that the Zanu PF faction rallying behind Mnangagwa was reeling from the ruling party’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars, this was ruthlessly brought to the public fore on Thursday.
In an unprecedented move then, riot police mercilessly clamped down on a group of war veterans loyal to the embattled VP — tear-gassing and water-spraying them before unyieldingly forcing them to disperse — after the group of former freedom fighters attempted to flex their muscles and congregate in Harare.
The chaos, which the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday had accurately predicted in its editions of the past few days, came as Zanu PF’s ugly internal ructions get deadlier and dirtier, with the party faction linked to Mnangagwa increasingly mounting an open rebellion against Mugabe and Grace.
So in-your-face and aggressive have some of the utterances and tactics being employed by Team Lacoste become, that there has been for some time now real concern within Zanu PF that the ruling party’s escalating brawls could soon boil over into bloody conflict.