via G40, Mphoko gang up – DailyNews Live 24 May 2015 by Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – As the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe gets nastier and messier, Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks have apparently roped in co-Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko to counter party strongman, VP Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a bid to advance their ambitions.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that President Robert Mugabe was aware of this development and that he had allegedly made it “abundantly clear” at Thursday’s explosive Zanu PF politburo meeting in Harare that he was not happy with this, and that he completely trusted Mnangagwa.
One of the sources said the Young Turks — who are known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, and some of them as the Gang of Four — had realised that “they needed more ammunition to thwart Ngwena (Mnangagwa)”, hence the incorporation of Mphoko in their alleged plot.
With Mugabe now old and frail, in addition to being seized with regional matters as chairperson of both Sadc and the African Union — his two deputies, Mphoko and Mnangagwa, have been slugging it out of late, battling for supremacy.
Mphoko has since made it openly clear that he will not play second fiddle to Mnangagwa, saying bluntly recently that there is no second Vice President in both the country’s and ruling party’s constitutions — as Mnangagwa’s supporters are wont to claim.
“This latest development (G40 working with Mphoko) effectively makes Mphoko the leader of the Generation 40 and Gang of Four. As you may have noted, (Zanu PF political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere recently criss-crossed the country on a campaign trail ahead of the by-elections in the company of the VP,” a senior Zanu PF official seen as close to Mnangagwa said.
“It was thus not a coincidence that just before (Zanu PF’s) politburo meeting on Thursday, Mphoko was the more visible of the two Vice Presidents as he campaigned from Manicaland to Mashonaland West,” he added.
Another source claimed that while Mphoko had publicly blamed the West on the emotive Gukurahundi killings of the early 1980s, “he secretly abhors any person who is linked to the gruesome killings” of an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians by the army, mainly in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions.
Speaking at a rally on Wednesday, Zanu PF candidate for the hotly-contested Harare East constituency, Terence Mukupe, said that Mphoko would grace his rally but that suddenly changed after the party’s Thursday politburo meeting, where Mugabe is said to have made it clear that he trusted Mnangagwa.
“The Gang of Four wants to take power through Mphoko. It was brought to the politburo that Mnangagwa was being sidelined by the wily gang and that is why you see the Vice President now going about with them at rallies.
“Remember it is the prerogative of the commissariat to invite officials to rallies and they deliberately left out Mnangagwa,” one of the sources said.
Other Zanu PF and government sources who spoke to our sister paper, the Daily News, last week said the war between Mphoko and Mnangagwa was a “manifestation of the ruling party’s undecided succession issue”, adding that it was so deep-rooted and apparent to the extent that it was becoming “an embarrassing problem” at both party and State level.
According to one source, Mugabe made it clear during Thursday’s politburo meeting that he had a “perfect working relationship with Mnangagwa” and allegedly stated clearly that all the decisions that his deputy made had his explicit approval.
But as the fall-out between Mnangagwa and the Gang of Four deepened, Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who is said to be a key member of the Gang of Four, revealed rather contemptuously during an interview with the BBC that Mnangagwa was not Mugabe’s chosen successor.
Asked why Zimbabwe was considering Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe given his alleged ruthlessness against rivals, Moyo retorted: “This reference to him as the next president is really yours and a burden that you should unravel yourself and not state as a fact. You can ask those who see him that way but he is an appointed vice president.
“The president did not appoint him so that he could succeed him, but he appointed him so that he could assist him to implement the policy programme of government”.
While Moyo may have meant this well, while also sticking to party policy, this angered Mnangagwa’s allies who are now baying for the blood of the Young Turks.
“It was in this light that both Mugabe and Mnangagwa attacked the Young Turks (in the politburo), with the president also taking serious umbrage with the contemptuous statement that Kasukuwere directed towards war veterans when he attacked them as drunkards.
“The president was not happy with the Gang of Four, especially the attack on War Veterans. Chris Mutsvangwa, (the minister of War Veterans) stood up and attacked Kasukuwere and he had the ear of the president and many others in the party who now want them to be reined in,” the source said.
Although Mugabe managed to contain the storm caused by the fielding of two candidates in Harare East — Terence Mukupe and Mavis Gumbo — the party failed to paper the cracks that have been caused by the debacle.
At a rally in Kambuzuma yesterday, Mnangagwa admitted that Gumbo and Mukupe were mere pawns in Zanu PF’s vicious factional and succession wars that show no signs of ending.
Mnangagwa jokingly but tellingly told party supporters that it was his first time to address party supporters ahead of the by-elections that have been boycotted by the opposition, in what insiders said was a dig at Kasukuwere for sidelining him.