Vic Falls meet crucial for VP

via Vic Falls meet crucial for VP – DailyNews Live Tendai Kamhungira and Blessings Mashaya • 30 November 2015

HARARE –  Amid claims that up to a third of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp has already been wiped out through exclusions, suspensions and expulsions from the warring post-congress Zanu PF, insiders say the embattled VP should expect a frosty reception at the party’s annual conference in Victoria Falls next week.

Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said with more senior party officials loyal to Mnangagwa set to face the chop in the next few months, as the post-congress Zanu PF’s factional and succession wars continued to escalate, the conference would be an important battleground.

“All this talk of harmony ahead of Victoria Falls is untrue. The G40 (Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks) are still planning to deal with Ngwena (Mnangagwa). The recent votes of no confidence and suspensions have sent a clear message to the VP and his allies that they are under siege.

“As you have seen, we have now moved from a perception that Ngwena is a cunning and fierce fighter to one where his juniors are openly taking him on with impugnity.

“Last week’s politburo meeting, for example, exposed him as a weak and timid leader when it comes to the crunch as he failed to defend his allies. And things will only get worse for him from here till Victoria Falls,” one of the sources said.

Another senior Zanu PF official also claimed that there was “palpable fear” within the Mnangagwa camp as a result of the recent suspensions and expulsions of Team Lacoste members —  which he said was likely to see many people deserting the faction to safeguard their interests.

Among the VP’s perceived close allies who were shown the exit door last week are former Manicaland women’s league boss Happiness Nyakuedzwa and former Mashonaland Central youth league chairperson Godfrey Tsenengamu.

In addition, former Harare provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa, former Harare women’s league chairperson Ratidzo Mukarati, and former Masvingo chairperson Paradzai Chakona, all had their votes of no confidence upheld by the politburo.

This also came amid the recent warning by Mnangagwa’s ally, former Mashonaland West youth leader Vengai Musengi, that there was a plot by the VP’s enemies to boo him in Victoria Falls.

However, and even as many things appear to be working against Mnangagwa, University of Zimbabwe Political Science lecturer Eldred Masungure said Mugabe was unlikely to sideline Mnangagwa anytime soon.

“I wouldn’t want to believe that Mnangagwa is falling at the December conference. From my understanding of Zanu PF politics, it’s a matter of ups and downs.

“I doubt the president will allow Mnangagwa to be removed. It will be a risk for the party to do that taking into consideration that the after-effects of the 2014 political ‘Tsunami’ are still being felt in Zanu PF,” Masunungure told the Daily News yesterday.

However, other analysts say Mnangagwa is living on borrowed time, as he is surviving on Mugabe’s charity, making the Victoria Falls conference a crucial moment for “Lacoste”, as the VP is affectionately known by his supporters.

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), a local think-tank, said last week that for Mnangagwa to power ahead and overcome all the constraints ranged against him, he needed the intervention of Mugabe, who was the ultimate puppet master in the party.

“Despite the possibilities, the vice president’s mere occupancy of the position does not mean that he will be automatically nominated in the event of Mugabe’s death, resignation or incapacitation.

“As a presumptive heir, instead, this will depend on Mnangagwa’s successful exercise of his position as state vice president, and those positions as the second in command of Zanu PF, to consolidate power, and not his colleagues’ acknowledgement that they must obey him because he occupies these offices,” ZDI said.

The Pedzisai Ruhanya-led think-tank also believed that analysts had prematurely concluded that as vice president Mnangagwa was better positioned to take over the party leadership than other party bigwigs, which was not true.