HARARE - Defiant Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) chairperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa, has escalated his savage assault on President Robert Mugabe, saying yesterday the increasingly frail nonagenarian was willingly being led astray by “compulsive plotters” in the warring Zanu PF.
This comes as Africa Confidential, the UK-domiciled specialist publication on Africa, reported at the weekend that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was more and more taking control of government business, with Mugabe allegedly retreating to a more ceremonial role.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, in a development that is likely to put Mnangagwa even more at odds with his Zanu PF foes, Mutsvangwa — an avowed supporter of the VP — claimed that Mugabe was unwisely FROM P1
“taking instructions” from alleged Generation 40 (G40) kingpins such as Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
“Now he (Moyo) has morphed into a compliance officer of a nebulous agenda of a self-styled ideology and chief-intimidating agent on behalf of a rudderless State House,” Mutsvangwa, who along with his ZNLWVA executive, has been open about his wish to have Mnangagwa succeed Mugabe, said.
The former Cabinet minister went on to claim, once again, that Moyo was “a war deserter who has no capacity to score a political victory against battle-hardened former freedom fighters”.
“As a war veteran who witnessed so much during the struggle, I dismiss this irregular political usurpation by a wartime deserter-turned spy. Let the coward Jonso (Moyo) know that he is incapable of scaring anyone, let alone battle-hardened war veterans,” Mutsvangwa said.
He also claimed that after Moyo had been expelled from Zanu PF, following what came to be known as the Tsholotsho Declaration in 2004, the voluble Tsholotsho North legislator had been “rehabilitated to State House under unclear circumstances”, allegedly through the efforts of the revered late liberation struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru.
“With the proverbial nine lives of a cat, Jonso bounced back in 2013 to his unexplained and ongoing preponderant influence at State House,” Mutsvangwa said.
He also went on to claim that Moyo had “ambitions to succeed Mugabe”, colourfully describing the minister as “viscerally cantankerous”.
“Compulsive plotting is a hallmark of his (Moyo’s) DNA. This, engendered by an obsessive craving for the top dog position … today he rants all over the show in a typical manner to a mad dog choked with mustard,” the war veterans leader with a penchant for complex diction said.
Zanu PF insiders have consistently told the Daily News that underlying the former liberation movement’s deadly and seemingly unstoppable tribal and factional wars is its unresolved succession question, with the G40 faction apparently doing everything possible to torpedo Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential ambitions.
It is in this vein that the Midlands godfather was last week forced to publicly disown Mutsvangwa and other former party cadres who are publicly backing his ascendancy to the highest office in the land.
However, this did not stop Mutsvangwa and other disaffected Zanu PF bigwigs from attending the burial of Peter Chanetsa at Heroes Acre in Harare on Saturday, with many of these “rebels” being accepted into the VIP tent, at a time Mugabe is away on holiday.
Although the occasion was a State and not Zanu PF function, which meant that anyone could attend it if they wished to do so, the rebels’ surprise presence in the VIP tent set tongues waging, given that this was the first time they were attending a State function since their expulsion from Zanu PF last year.
“I was surprised to see those two (Mutsvangawa and Temba Mliswa) being pampered in the VIP tent. They are well-known Ngwena (Mnangagwa’s) supporters.
“Lacoste (the Zanu PF faction backing Mnangagwa’s alleged bid to succeed Mugabe) took advantage of Gushungo’s (Mugabe’s) absence to play its sucessionist games. This would never happen if the president was around,” a party official linked to the G40 group moaned.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the move by Mnangagwa’s allies to attend Chanetsa’s burial could turn out to be important ammunition to the VP’s party rivals.
“The VP is known to be a shrewd politician, but not as much as his boss, hence the war veterans’ attendance to listen to him when they have all along been boycotting Mugabe.
“This can be used as ammunition by his rivals to say his recent condemnation of Mutsvangwa and his group is a smokescreen meant to mask their deep-lying relationship,” Masunungure said.
Meanwhile, Africa Confidential, the well-regarded UK publication, said at the weekend that Mnangagwa was increasingly taking over the reins from Mugabe.
The fortnightly also said Zanu PF’s hopes of remaining in power relied on its hope that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru won’t agree to work together next year, and that Mnangagwa would provide a stable transition for the country post-Mugabe.
“The President has tried to prevent Mnangagwa from prevailing in the faction-fighting (Zanu PF’s), carrying out various manoeuvres to maintain a balance between the rivals, but the vice-president has independent support from the securocrats of the army and police.
“So far, Mnangagwa has survived. His support comes largely from the military, which has been Mugabe’s political backbone and from war veterans, who have publicly demanded that he should succeed the president.
“The leaders of liberation war veterans were sacked from the party last year but they remain influential, particularly in its rural structures, which have always been key to Mugabe’s grip on power. The war veterans would use 2017 to ‘mobilise for Ngwena’ (Mnangagwa),” Africa Confidential said.
“Mugabe has indicated his discomfort at the military’s role in propping up Mnangagwa, who has been endorsed by Harare’s key ally, China.
“There was pressure from the G40 to sack the army generals but Mugabe has admitted that he has kept them on due to a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ after they saved him from defeat in 2008.
“The military, therefore, will play a major part in the succession. They also dominate electoral bodies and other key institutions, making them potentially important in the management of national elections,” it added.