HARARE - Still reeling from the damaging breakaway from within its ranks of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters, President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF is facing yet another bitter split — this time involving party members loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This also comes as the stage is set for an explosive meeting in Harare between Mugabe and restive war veterans on April 7 — as the mindless bloodletting within the former liberation movement continues unabated.
Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the latest acrimonious “divorce proceedings” involving Team Lacoste — which they said was already “well under way” and evident in the troubled provinces of Midlands and Mashonaland East — would deliver a knock out punch to the fast-unraveling party.
“The die is cast and there is no going back. We are going it alone now. When you see State media dredging up malicious stories about Ngwena (Mnangagwa) from 33 years ago (regarding the VP’s alleged inflammatory comments on Gukurahundi), then you know this has to happen,” a senior party official linked to the VP said.
Another Zanu PF bigwig said never in his “wildest imagination” had he ever contemplated that the former liberation movement would suffer more splits than the MDC.
“I’m embarrassed that after Zanu PF Gamatox (Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First), we are now going to have Zanu PF Lacoste, all within the space of a few months. Before that, we had the likes of (Edgar) Tekere, Margaret (Dongo) and Simba (Makoni) splitting from the party as you know.
“At least in the case of the MDC when they were splitting this was largely due to the work of our boys (infiltration and destabilisation by spooks). What excuses do we have for this anarchy?
“And the chaos is worsening, what with some war veterans passing votes of no confidence against national leaders such as VP (Phelekezela) Mphoko and Tyson (Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere),” a politburo member who has always claimed that he is “non-aligned” said ruefully.
The Daily News — which has accurately and consistently spotlighted the ruling party’s ugly ructions over the past five years — reported exclusively on Tuesday that the party had effectively split into two bitterly-opposed formations in the Midlands, the citadel of Mnangagwa’s support.
Regional party officials confirmed to the newspaper then that there were now two structures at most levels — belonging to the rival Mnangagwa and Generation 40 (G40) camps.
“It’s war here. For every G40 structure, there is now a parallel Team Lacoste one, and vice-versa. Our worry is how this will be resolved going into 2018,” one of the officials said.
Indeed, as interim Zanu PF chairperson for the Midlands, Tapiwa Matangaidze, was announcing the party’s decision to sack many of Mnangagwa’s most trusted allies, including July Moyo, the Midlands godfather’s regional allies were mobilising their followers, creating their own structures.
For example, suspended deputy provincial chairperson Daniel Mackenzie-Ncube had now been appointed the acting chairperson by the Team Lacoste group.
Mackenzie-Ncube himself confirmed that he and other senior party officials who were suspended by the G40 through votes of no confidence were “busy restructuring the party from cell level”.
He was also emphatic that the provincial executive that had resolved to pass a vote of no confidence in Moyo and others such as Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Owen Muda Ncube and Victor Matemadanda, John Holder and Cornelius Mupereri did not constitute a quorum.
In addition, he said Matangaidze (who was provincial secretary), Makhosini Hlongwane (political commissar) and Annastancia Ndlovu (national youth league executive member) had been counter-suspended by the province and thus had no “locus standi to call meetings” as they had, at any rate, since been replaced.
“We were seized with consolidating the party from cell and branch levels all weekend. We were in Mberengwa on Friday and had other meetings on Saturday and Sunday in areas such as Shurugwi and Zvishavane where we restructured the party.
“Our attention will not be diverted by the sideshows by Matangaidze and Hlongwane, the only provincial executive members who were present at their meeting.
“Now do you call that Midlands province? Surely a man humming an old tune to himself can’t be called a choir, can he?” Mackenzie-Ncube asked rhetorically.
Mupereri, who until his “suspension” was the Zanu PF provincial spokesperson, added that they would continue to defy Zanu PF national political commissar Kasukuwere, who appointed Matangaidze as acting chairperson following the suspension of Kizito Chivamba.
“We will not hesitate to defy even national members who choose to disregard the party constitution like what happened here. Even if we were to accept that Chivamba was suspended, he was supposed to be replaced by the deputy chairperson.
“That is why Mackenzie-Ncube is our chairman as we speak, he naturally took over,” Mupereri said in a show of defiance.
In the meantime, the stage is set for an explosive get-together between furious war veterans and Mugabe on April 7 — amid claims that the nonagenarian has been working hard to mobilise service chiefs to not just continue to shore him up, but also to put pressure on those rebellious war veterans who wanted to see him ousted from power.
Yesterday, hundreds of war veterans from across the country met with government officials in Harare to discuss the agenda of the meeting.
Among the prominent personalities who attended the meeting were Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Air Force commander Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube, Manicaland State Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene, State Security minister Kembo Mohadi, former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri.
Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News claimed that Mugabe, apparently desperate to avert an embarrassing encounter with the former freedom fighters, had mobilised service chiefs to neutralise and calm down the war veterans.
“We have found it necessary to have this preliminary meeting so that there is adequate consultation before the meeting with His Excellency,” Sekeramayi, who is Zanu PF secretary for war veterans, said.
The meeting also comes at a time when ex-combatants who were in the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) have officially launched their own welfare association and appointed Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa as their patron.
The meeting with Mugabe is being pushed by war veterans rallying behind Team Lacoste, a group backing Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.
Among their plethora of demands are calls for a stop to the worsening purges in Zanu PF, a demand for Mugabe to rein in his powerful wife Grace whom they accuse of fronting a Zanu PF faction known as the Generation 40, complaints about their paltry monthly allowances and the government’s failure to pay school fees for their children.
An earlier planned meeting was thwarted by riot police who used teargas and water cannons to disperse the ex-combatants that had gathered at the City Sports Centre in the capital.