Special Congress: Zanu PF youths backing Grace

HARARE - One of the three critical wings of the ruling party — the Zanu PF youth league — threw down the gauntlet yesterday, declaring its undying support for First Lady Grace Mugabe to take over the vice presidency from Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom it described as a cancer, eating away the revolutionary party.

The declaration by the youth league’s Manicaland chair, Mubuso Chinguno, comes two months before a decisive extraordinary congress where Zanu PF will amend its constitution to accommodate a woman as vice president and second secretary of the party.

As a consequence of the amendment, one of the two serving vice presidents — Mnangagwa or Phelekezela Mphoko — could be dropped to give effect to the quota system, although President Robert Mugabe once hinted in July that he was toying with the idea of appointing a third vice president.

Amid suggestions that Mugabe may pass his wife, Grace, and settle on a dark horse to avoid playing his hand too early into the succession race, an executive member of the Zanu PF youth league made it clear yesterday that they wanted Mnangagwa out of the top three.

Chinguno, who chairs the Manicaland chapter of the league, told the Daily News that Mnangagwa had become “a dangerous cancer eating the party away”, adding that they wanted not just another woman but Grace to be vice the president.

“I have been provincial youth chairperson for several years and I have never seen such open rebellion,” he told the Daily News, suggesting the vice president has rebelled against the party.

“Unfortunately, we have been dealing with the side effects of the root cause of factionalism, which is Emmerson. We might say let’s do this and that but we will not go anywhere if we don’t deal with Emmerson who has been using his proxies to undermine the president. We can fire the whole party but the only way to go forward is to remove him. He is a cancer. We have fired a lot of people since 2014 because of this man. So let us deal with Emmerson at the coming special congress so that all departments pull in one direction,” he declared.

The Daily News had reported on Thursday that no-one in the women’s league appears to have the guts to go ahead of Grace by expressing the desire to assume the second most powerful office in the land in the event that the amendment sails through at the special congress.

This has had the effect of giving the first lady a head start in the race to land the position should it become available in fulfilment of the quota system cast aside in 2014 as Zanu PF sought to cut off Joice Mujuru from the party.

On Thursday, the national executive of the Zanu PF youth league held an extraordinary meeting where they endorsed Mugabe’s leadership, and giving him their blessings to stand as the party’s presidential candidate in the 2018 elections.

They also threw their weight behind a 2015 resolution presented by the women’s league at the party conference held in the resort town of Victoria Falls, challenging the party’s leadership to walk the talk on gender equality by elevating a woman to occupy one of the VP offices.

Although Masvingo and the Midlands provinces — the bedrocks of support for Mnangagwa — would want to preserve the status quo, they are clearly outnumbered as the other eight provinces are fighting in the women’s league’s corner.

While the youth league’s resolutions as read out by Kudzai Chipanga, the national chairperson of the wing, did not mention who among the two VPs — Mnangagwa or Mphoko — should pave the way for a woman successor, Chinguno accused Mnangagwa of exhibiting “fake love” towards Mugabe, saying he has become a master at praising the Zanu PF leader by day but plotting against him at night.

“There is no loyalty in him, there is only disloyalty. In fact, Zanu PF will be stronger without him,” said the youthful, abrasive politician who narrowly escaped Zanu PF expulsion in 2014 for aligning with Mujuru.

He said the youths were clamouring for Mugabe to replace Mnangagwa with Grace.

“She (Grace) is a woman who has learnt from the greatest man, a woman nurtured by our president. Some laugh and call her secretary; that only defines that she was the best not only in beauty but her unique qualities as we have seen her condemning unscrupulous activities and leadership within the party. We truly believe that Amai is ready to serve the nation and should be given the chance,” said Chinguno.

“ . . . Let’s all rally our support behind her for the VP as women need to be represented in our politics. We support gender balance as currently our political dynamics truly reflect that there is no fair representation of women in our politics. We support more women candidates to be elevated and identified to serve the nation,” he added.

Indications are that the women’s league is also set to convene its extraordinary executive meeting soon to reaffirm their contentious resolution.

Women’s league spokesperson, Judith Ncube, confirmed that the women would push for the resolution to be actualised at the congress in a telephone interview yesterday.

“Our position still remains, we ask the responsible leadership to make it happen,” she said.

She, however, could not confirm the reported meeting, saying she would check with secretary for administration Letina Undenge before she can comment on that.

Undenge said she needed to check with Ncube: “We do have a position on that (the women’s quota) and it has not changed, but on that other issue, let me check with the secretary for information and publicity and I will call you back,” she said.

The two Zanu PF officials did not return the calls as per their promise and were subsequently not answering calls to their cell phones.

Political scientist Ibbo Mandaza told the Daily News that Mnangagwa might just be serving his last days as VP.

He said the women’s quota simply points to the fact that Mnangagwa has been firmly targeted.

“People talk about constitutional provisions; those do not matter, and Zanu PF has always amended it to suit the current demands,” said Mandaza. “Remember the clause (which says one of the VPs must be a woman) was introduced in 2014 to block Mnangagwa, it was removed in 2014 to facilitate his rise and it is now being brought back to remove him”.

While political commentator Lloyd Msipa opined that Grace was destined to become a vice president, he remained doubtful if Mugabe could expel Mnangagwa saying doing so would amount to writing an epitaph to the former revolutionary movement.

Msipa said Mnangagwa represents a brand unto himself, adding the vice president was Zanu PF personified.

“His roots go deeper into the revolutionary party and hence attempts to uproot him will not be without consequence,” said Msipa who is the Co-founder of Africa Public Policy Research Institute.

“In recent months, we have seen a toxic Mugabe, influenced by both age and an overly ambitious young wife, being told to dump Emmerson Mnangagwa. He knows, it will not be easy. In the absence of a Mnangagwa death, Mugabe will not succeed in expelling Mnangagwa without disrupting the rank and file of Zanu PF. Mnangagwa’s roots go too deep . . . If Mugabe goes for broke and expels Mnangagwa, the resultant fallout in the army, the intelligence services and war veterans will be catastrophic no unity will be possible before the 2018 elections. In as much Lenin wished Trotsky to succeed him, it was his wish,” said Msipa.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the buck stops with Mugabe, implying whatever Mugabe wishes would be done.

Said Mukundu: “So, if it’s Mugabe’s desire that he be deputised by his wife, then it will be so. The hope, of course, is that he does not take this final leap into making Zimbabwe a full-fledged banana republic”.

Comments (2)

The only cancer eating away at Zimbabwe has been the Mugabe family. Don't be stupid by supporting them!

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