via VP’s allies plot Grace’s demise – DailyNews Live Mugove Tafirenyika • 7 December 2015
HARARE – The stage is set for an explosive get-together as the warring post-congress Zanu PF meets for its annual conference in Victoria Falls this week amid revelations of plots and counterplots between Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa , and First Lady Grace Mugabe’s supporters.
Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday claimed that the VP’s allies, apparently desperate to avert an embarrassing drubbing marked by jeers and boos, were also mobilising to counter the Generation 40’s manoeuvres — through President Robert Mugabe’s wife — to thwart Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.
As it is, the G40 has been reportedly working hard to mobilise “thousands of supporters” not just to shore up Grace at the conference, but also to discredit and put pressure on the embattled VP as the war to succeed the 91-year-old Zanu PF leader gets hotter.
And as the succession wars get nastier, the Daily News on Sunday was told that plans to form a splinter Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) or moves to replace the current leadership, which has reportedly been at odds with Grace and the G40 over the past few months, have gathered momentum or pace ahead of the conference.
“It’s a bloody war out there and this coming week could prove to be one of the deadliest in the history of the party. The war veterans want to demonstrate to President Robert Mugabe and other party leaders that they are still in the game, and have the capacity to mobilise and determine the power dynamics in the party,” said a source.
“They also want to make it clear to the president that they are not happy with Dr Amai’s (Grace’s) ways,” they said.
The source added that Team Lacoste, as the Mnangagwa faction is referred to by its members, had had a taste of what could happen in Victoria Falls this week after the Justice minister received a cool reception from Zanu PF supporters at the Harare International Airport when Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Zimbabwe, while there were the usual wild cheers for Mugabe, Grace and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
It had also not helped matters that the first lady was emphatic when she addressed party supporters in Masvingo on Friday, where she said she was not subordinate to Mnangagwa — an unexpected pronouncement that sent shock waves through Team Lacoste.
A party source who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday admitted yesterday that owing to Zanu PF’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars, relations between the G40 and the ex-combatants had reached “an all-time low” — hence “the calls for the dissolution of the hostile (Christopher) Mutsvangwa-led executive”.
“The G40 specifically want Mutsvangwa and his secretary general Victor Matemadanda to be sacked, and to be replaced by Patrick Nyaruwata, Webster Shamu and Andy Mhlanga, but this will be resisted fiercely,” the source said, claiming further that a key Grace ally, Sarah Mahoka (Zanu PF Hurungwe East MP) had already engaged Nyaruwata to team up with the Shamus and Mhlangas to takeover the reigns.
“Mahoka facilitated a meeting at party headquarters between Nyaruwata, Shamu and company to mobilise war veterans to support Amai, and subsequently replace the Mutsvangwa executive because it is seen as strongly pro-Lacoste (Mnangagwa),” the source said.
The first lady has recently been publicly complaining at her nationwide rallies about “a few war veterans who are divisive and want to be given special treatment in the party”.
Neither Mahoka nor party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo were available yesterday to comment on all the claims.
But reached for comment, Matemadanda said he was sure that the first lady would not “stoop that low” and try to oust his executive.
“I do not think the first lady can do that given her level of education and enlightenment. We don’t think she can allow herself to be dragged into such politics,” he said.
“We believe that she can always take an advisory role if she feels there is something wrong in the association. We support and respect her as our women’s league leader and our first lady,” he said.
While Matemadanda said he was going to “investigate the allegations before further comment”, he insisted, though, that he was also not convinced that both Nyaruwata and Mhlanga “would do such a thing as they were our elders”.
And as the multi-faceted wars to succeed Mugabe rage, party insiders also said Grace’s recent moves to embrace the likes of Shamu and Tendai Savanhu had proven problematic as some felt it was an affront to the Zanu PF constitution, and procedures in dealing with sanctioned cadres.
“Neither Mnangagwa nor the war veterans have a problem with the first lady, but corrupt elements who hide behind her and that’s why we are saying that she must vet people around her. The current problems also raise questions about whether Zanu PF needs a factional commissar like (Saviour) Kasukuwere. By decimating current structures allegedly aligned to this or that person, it is now clear that he (Kasukuwere) is trying to use his position to clear the way for Grace and eventually for himself,” the party source claimed.
As the party’s conference gets under way, Mnangagwa’s mooted ambitions to succeed Mugabe suffered another hammer blow last weekend after Mashonaland East and Bulawayo became the latest Zanu PF provinces to call for a return of the women’s quota system in the warring ruling party.
The two provinces joined party structures in Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central which have also said that they would like to see women represented in the former liberation movement’s presidium as soon as possible — a proposal that is likely to prejudice Mnangagwa if adopted.