Source: Zanu PF rebels ‘invade’ Heroes – DailyNews Live 8 January 2017
HARARE – In an interesting development yesterday, expelled former Zanu PF
bigwigs, Christopher Mutsvangwa and Temba Mliswa, received VIP treatment
at the burial of Peter Chanetsa at the Heroes Acre in Harare – as Zanu
PF’s ugly tribal, factional and succession wars continue to burn hot.
Although the occasion was a State and not a Zanu PF function, which meant
that any citizen who wished to do so could attend the burial, the surprise
presence of Mutsvangwa and Mliswa in the VIP tent expectedly set tongues
wagging among the gathered ruling party supporters.
“I was very surprised to see those two being pampered in the VIP tent.
They are well-known Ngwena (Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s)
“Lacoste (the Zanu PF faction that is rallying behind Mnangagwa’s mooted
presidential aspirations) took advantage of Gushungo’s (President Robert
Mugabe’s) absence to play its successionist games. This would never happen
if the president was around,” a party official linked to the opposing
Generation 40 (G40) group moaned.
Another Zanu PF bigwig described the duo’s appearance and accommodation in
the VIP as “unusual”, pointing out to the rough treatment that the
troubled ruling party normally dishes out to its out of favour officials.
Since the former liberation movement’s devisive 2014 congress, the warring
ruling party has routinely chased away from its gatherings its suspended
former stalwarts, including its ex-national political commissar and former
Information minister, Webster Shamu. And Heroes Acre burials are de facto
Zanu PF events.
War veterans leader Mutsvangwa and his executive have since their
expulsion from Zanu PF been boycotting State functions, including last
year’s Heroes’ Day celebrations.
They have also stepped up their efforts to force Mugabe to step down,
accusing the increasingly frail nonagenarian of being at the centre of the
country’s current economic woes.
But the forthright and fearless Mutsvangwa defended his presence in the
VIP tent at Heroes Acre when contacted by the Daily News on Sunday
“This is a public place at which I am allowed to be whenever I want. It is
nobody’s personal property, and so I came here to mourn a fellow war
veteran who stood by me when I was being persecuted in the party.
“And for the record, I could still have come even if Mugabe was here
because my wife is a senator. So, I could come as a spouse as well,”
However, political analyst Eldred Masunugure said Mutsvangwa and Mliswa’s
presence among the VIPs, which occurred barely 72 hours after Mnangagwa
had distanced himself from those backing his mooted higher ambitions,
could pile more political pressure on the VP, who is already facing a
backlash on a number of fronts, including his holding of a coffee mug
inscribed “I’m the boss”.
“The VP is known to be a shrewd politician, though not as much as his boss
(Mugabe), 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 public
condemnation of Mutsvangwa and his group is a smokescreen meant to mask
their deep-lying relationship,” he said, adding that it was unlikely that
the duo would have turned up at Chanetsa’s burial if Mugabe was
“I’m not convinced they would have attended if it was the president
addressing the gathering, so it raises suspicion. However, Mnangagwa and
his allies can insist that they came on the back of their personal
relationship with Chanetsa and not necessarily as a statement of
allegiance to the VP,” Masunungure said.
When the Zanu PF provincial executive moved a motion to have Mutsvangwa
recalled from the Mashonaland West provincial coordinating committee,
prior to his expulsion from the ruling party, Chanetsa made attempts to
overturn that decision, albeit unsuccessfully.
On his part, Mliswa – who was sacked from Zanu PF for backing former Vice
President Joice Mujuru to succeed Mugabe in 2014 – made no secret about
his newly-found allegiance to Mnangagwa.
“I am one person who has always advocated for leadership renewal in Zanu
PF and at the present moment I see no reason why Mnangagwa should not take
over given that he is the most senior person in the ruling party who has
experience in governance and has held several senior posts,” Mliswa told
the Daily News on Sunday, adding that he was also at the national shrine
as a legislator.
Mliswa is now independent Member of Parliament for Norton, where he
replaced Mutsvangwa following a by-election that was held last year in
which he defeated little-known Zanu PF candidate Ronald Chindedza.
Mutsvangwa’s war veterans issued a damning communique in July last year
denouncing Mugabe as a dictator who would be difficult to market as the
ruling party’s candidate in the much-awaited national elections next year.
War veterans have anchored Mugabe’s reign and election campaigns since
1980, and stepped up this support when the nonagenarian’s first major
opposition emerged with the formation in 1999 of the MDC.
Meanwhile, addressing a handful of mourners yesterday, made up mainly of
the country’s security personnel, Mnangagwa avoided being political and
chose to merely narrate Chanetsa’s contribution to the country.
He also urged newly-resettled farmers to take a leaf from Chanetsa and be
productive on the land that they were allocated after the country’s
chaotic fast-track land reforms that saw former white commercial farmers
losing their land.
“Let us honour him by ensuring that the land we have acquired is utilized
to the fullest. This season saw government rolling out our command
agriculture programme whose key objectives are to ensure food security and
“This three-year rolling programme should see us regain and re-assert our
status as the breadbasket of the region … therefore for those of us who
are on the land, which the likes of Chanetsa have delivered us, let there
be no excuse for non-utilisation of the land.
“We need you to account for the inputs you drew from the programme. Above
all the nation expects you to justify your continued occupancy of the
piece of land apportioned to you ahead of all other Zimbabweans,”
He also revealed that the government would undertake a “scientific land
audit based on the individual performance of each farmer”.