HARARE - Embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allies are ramping up their assault on President Robert Mugabe’s authority, savaging the Zanu PF politburo’s decisions of the past few months, as well as the nonagenarian’s key lieutenants such as national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
Speaking at a meeting of war veterans aligned to Mnangagwa in Bulawayo at the weekend, the gathered Team Lacoste members not only brazenly chanted “Down with G40 (Zanu PF Young Turks opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe)”, they also came just short of openly denouncing Mugabe.
The ousted secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, roundly slated the Zanu PF politburo — that is headed by Mugabe — saying it had become a “disciplinary politburo”, while Zanu PF was now a “party for firing not hiring”.
He also launched a scathing attack on Kasukuwere — who Mugabe singled out for special praise at the nonagenarian’s belated birthday bash in Masvingo two weeks ago — for the deluge of expulsions that have characterised Zanu PF over the past two years.
Playing factional politics to the hilt regarding the ongoing agitation by the party’s women’s league, that there be a woman in the Zanu PF presidium this year, Matemadanda said were this to happen, such a candidate should come from the Zapu side of the party — suggesting that Bulawayo Senator Angeline Masuku was the most worthy candidate for the post, although she was unlikely to be considered for it.
Speaking at the same get-together, former War Veterans minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa said bluntly that he had issues with people surrounding Mugabe, while also slating Zanu PF’s newly-found penchant for purging party members.
Contacted for comment on all this, party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was cagey yesterday, opting to say, “The party has a constitution, it has rules and regulations and anybody who violates the rules has to follow the process laid out. If found guilty, measures are taken”.
Repeated efforts to speak to Kasukuwere bore no fruit as his mobile phone was unreachable.
Meanwhile, former war veterans leader, Jabulani Sibanda, denied vehemently yesterday that he was set to rejoin Zanu PF and front the Mnangagwa faction.
Speaking to the Daily News following his attendance at the war veterans’ meeting in Bulawayo at the weekend, Sibanda said he had no plans “whatsoever” to do that — adding unequivocally that he was a Zimbabwe People First member.
Hopes had been high in the Midlands godfather’s camp over the past few weeks, that Sibanda would join hands with them, after he apparently turned down an offer from Mugabe to replace Mutsvangwa as both war veterans’ leader and minister.
But Sibanda, who was sacked from Zanu PF in 2014 after accusing First Lady Grace Mugabe of staging a “bedroom coup”, said he had only attended the Bulawayo meeting out of his “great respect for the former minister and war veterans in general”.
He told the Daily News that anyone who thought he would re-join Zanu PF was “hallucinating and waffling because power has corrupted the party’s leadership after we secured them victory in 2013 in a violent-free election”.
“How then do you join a party that is demobilising? How do you join a party that does not respect its own constitution, expelling people summarily? And how do you join a party that does not know who its leader is?” Sibanda asked rhetorically.
He said his appearance at the meeting was part of his “Come Let’s Reason Together” campaign, which he has been leading since his ouster from Zanu PF in late 2014.
“I embarked on that operation after I realised the need to unite all Zimbabweans to fight the situation we find ourselves in, a situation that came about because of Zanu PF’s mismanagement of the country.
“How then do I join the same party? I will never do anything like that. When I spoke at the war veterans meeting on Saturday my slogan was ‘One Zimbabwe, one nation’.
“I never chanted a Zanu PF slogan, just like I did not chant an MDC slogan when I addressed their meeting last year. I am a founder member of the People First party and anyone who thinks that I am not party to it is crazy.
“All this is akin to coming to my home and asking me if I am the owner of the house. So, let them hallucinate.
“I respect all war veterans and we need to work together as war veterans to save our people,” Sibanda added. People First spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, also told the Daily News that Sibanda was “one of us, but is free to associate with whoever he wants”.
“We are working closely with Jabu in People First, but let me hasten to say that our party respects freedom of association. So, Jabu has the freedom to engage with all Zimbabweans,” Gumbo said.