via Fear, suspicion stalk Mugabe’s Zanu PF – DailyNews Live 12 DECEMBER 2014 by LLOYD MBIBA
HARARE – Fresh turbulence, emanating from fear and suspicion, threatens to wreck further havoc within President Robert Mugabe’s divided ruling party, after the nonagenarian claimed on Wednesday that there had been an attempt on the life of his crown prince Emmerson Mnangagwa.
At the same time, there are rising voices of dissension and unhappiness within Zanu PF’s female constituency over Mugabe’s snub of women for both the presidium and senior politburo positions.
But well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that it is Mugabe’s claim that someone wants to kill Mnangagwa that is putting the fear of God in both of Zanu PF’s major factions, albeit for different reasons. Announcing his new senior party leadership in Harare, Mugabe claimed that unknown assailants had broken into Mnangagwa’s offices on Tuesday night and sprinkled a poisonous substance that reportedly left the latter’s secretary battling for her life at a private hospital in the capital.
The assailants’ intention, he said, appeared to have been to cause Mnangagwa to inhale the substance as soon as he entered the office, and thereby poison him to death.
Mugabe appointed Mnangagwa and career diplomat Phelekezela Mphoko as his party and government vice-presidents on Wednesday, following his summary dismissal of former VP Joice Mujuru earlier in the week, as well as the death of the other former VP John Landa Nkomo two years ago.
“We are aware of people who really want to harm us, physical harm also.
“I was talking about the incident that happened kumaoffices edu, eZanu PF (at our Zanu PF offices). The offices of Cde Mnangagwa were broken into last night and poisonous powder is spread all over the desk and so on.
“That powder, which when the door opens and there is that flash of air will be blown up and then he would breathe it.
“So it was not Mnangagwa who opened the door, it was the secretary (Ms Catherine Magaya) who opened the door and poor girl there she was, she breathed it and she is a mess.
“She is in intensive care just now… Why? Why? Why? We want investigations to be done. I am just warning you that it’s not always those who smile at us who are our friends. Take care,” Mugabe said.
In a politically-charged environment in which Mujuru and her perceived sympathisers have already been accused by Mugabe and his wife Grace of plotting to kill the 90-year-old, her supporters fear that the claim about another attempt on Mnangagwa’s life is a precursor to an impending and brutal clampdown on her camp.
On the other hand, there appears to be both nagging suspicion and confusion about the reported attempts on Mnangagwa’s life in his camp.
“We are all fearing the worst following this claim that someone wants to kill Ngwena (Mnangagwa). There is no doubt that they are looking for an excuse to hammer Mujuru and anyone suspected of supporting her,” a senior party official said yesterday.
A Mujuru supporter described the claim as “old and tired propaganda”.
“Only daft people can believe this story, taking into account the fact that this is supposed to be the umpteenth time this year alone that someone has supposedly attempted to murder Mnangagwa.
“What this tells us is that although they have used thuggery to take power in the party, they are not sure about their hold on this power and want to continue to use primitive methods to stay in power,” the member said.
A Mnangagwa supporter said the new claim had created confusion and “some anxiety” about what was happening.
“No one seems to know for sure what the new game plan is and whether indeed there was an attempt on Mnangagwa’s life. There is also growing suspicion within the camp about who stands where, particularly after some heavyweights were disappointed by the president’s politburo appointments,” he said.
Meanwhile, women and rights’ activists are fuming about Mugabe’s snub of the fairer sex when he appointed the presidium on Wednesday.
A female central committee member cited the country’s new Constitution yesterday in her expression of her disappointment about the snub.
“Article 17 clearly states that ‘The State must promote full gender balance in Zimbabwean society’.
“In particular, the State must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of the Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men.
“The Constitution goes on to say that the State must take measures including legislative to ensure that ‘both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at every level,’” she said.
Another female official said it was not “unreasonable” to expect that women would “cash in” after their overwhelming support for Mugabe’s purge of Mujuru and her allies,
“We got the short end of the deal yet again, consigned to second and third-tier jobs in the party. It’s neither fair nor right,” she said.
But Mugabe himself, conscious of the controversy his appointments might stir in the party said on Wednesday, “Don’t blame me for not appointing a woman in the presidium because you all know what Mai Mujuru was planning, but however, we shall also elevate other women to higher positions in the future”.
Gladys Hlatywayo, a civil rights activist, accused Mugabe of taking women’s rights back.
“The president has reversed gains that had been made in terms of gender equality. It is inconceivable in this day and age to have an all-men three-member presidium, moreso when one takes into account that this was done by the Sadc chairperson.
“This is a clear demonstration that this government is not at all gender sensitive,” she said.
Another woman who is associated with a leading affirmative action group, but spoke on condition of anonymity fearing victimisation said, “This is really disappointing. He (Mugabe) is basically saying all women are failures because of just one example (Mujuru).
“We are a signatory to the Sadc protocol on gender and development and 2015 is coming and we haven’t achieved the 50-50 quota system,” she said.
Top lawyer and MDC legislator for Harare West, Jessie Majome, also said due to Mugabe’s actions, section 17 of the Constitution had been flagrantly violated.
“The gender balance required by section 17 of the Constitution is in jeopardy from lack of political will,” she said.
A woman who said she was a “proud feminist” said Mugabe had missed “a historic opportunity” to be the president who appoints all-female deputies.
She said Mugabe did not appear to have a feel for the “more subtle structural barriers to women’s advancement”, and neither did he seem to place “a very high priority on gender issues”.
“He’s not strong on women’s issues,” she said.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said women were justified in crying foul.
“It’s right for women to cry foul over Mugabe’s picks for the presidium where there is no woman. After all, women constitute about 55 percent of Zimbabwe’s population and most political party rallies of Zanu PF always have more women than men in most cases.
“Women also played a pivotal role in the liberation struggle and they continue to play prominent roles in the development and political processes of Zimbabwe and for that, women should be well represented at all levels of government and leadership,” he said.
“The other issue is also not just about appointing women, but appointing women who articulate women issues, not women like Oppah Muchinguri and Grace Mugabe who denigrate other women and advance the patriarchal system yet they are women,” he added.