Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ejection from Zanu PF has just been temporarily shelved but is still on the agenda, political observers said yesterday.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Mnangagwa, who has been under fire from a group within Zanu PF that has been pushing for his ouster, on Friday received public support from those perceived to be baying for his political blood, including the First Lady Grace Mugabe, who has in the past made thinly-veiled attacks and threats to kick him out.
Zanu PF women’s league said on Friday they had postponed their demand for a woman VP until the next congress.
But war veterans — who have openly called for Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe — yesterday questioned the sincerity of the 92-year-old leader and his wife on their messages of peace and reconciliation within the ruling party.
They said Mugabe should first discipline officials who publicly attacked and humiliated Mnangagwa instead of blaming so-called rumour-mongers for allegedly peddling falsehoods with regards to his relationship with the VPs.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda yesterday said while they welcomed Mugabe’s peace offer, they were sceptical about his sincerity as he did nothing to defend Mnangagwa when he was attacked by Hurungwe MP Sarah Mahoka and Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister, Mandiitawepi Chimene.
“He should stop fooling people that it is rumour-mongering because he was there when Mahoka attacked and embarrassed the VP and nothing was done to her.
“He and his wife were there when Chimene did the same to VP Mnangagwa and still today, nothing has happened to her. I think they are just up to something and they want to use people. It is very bad,” Matemadanda said.
Turning to statements uttered by Grace that she was in support of the two VPs, Matemadanda said until she proved her sincerity, her words remained “just but words”.
“The words are good but the most important thing is sincerity, which is only known to her. We as war veterans want Zanu PF to be a disciplined party and what the president said is good but it should not end there. It must be practised. Until then, we are not convinced that the peace and reconciliation statements are genuine,” he said.
Zanu PF insiders told The Standard that Friday’s event could be wrongly interpreted as a defeat of the G-40 faction, which is reportedly anti-Mnangagwa while being loyal to First Lady, who is also the women’s league boss.
They said Mnangagwa’s camp should prepare for a rude awakening as the party’s young Turks were plotting against him.
“That old man is a Machiavellian politician. He is a shrewd tactician and very intelligent and knows when to attack and how to hoodwink a political foe or supporter,” said a senior Zanu PF official.
“To some of us, what happened on Friday is not surprising. The president is managing internal pressure and launching the 2018 election campaign. In Zanu PF, we fight each other but when faced with a common enemy, we unite. That is basically what the president is starting to do.”
According to insiders, the VP’s camp — which is popularly known as Team Lacoste — should be careful as it is likely to be caught flat-footed by Mugabe and his wife if the party wins the 2018 elections.
Another source said Mugabe usually leaps to the defence of any one faction that seems to be down as a way of ensuring that his seat is safe and ensuring that all factions involved concentrate on outdoing each other while he tightens his grip on power.
“The fundamental thing from Friday is that the women’s league has confirmed their demand for a post in the presidium. When they said 2019; don’t be shocked when they demand that the next president be a woman. Who said presidium means VPs only?
“It is a tactic to ensure that by then, it is likely the president would not be willing to stand as the next leader and they could push one of them to take over. Some people will celebrate their eventual downfall,” said the party insider.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure said the move by Grace should be viewed as a tact for 2019 and the women’s league could demand more then than they are now.
“In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, but interests. I think for now, the First Lady has suspended her bid to have the VP removed but I think this is temporary. It could be revived when time comes.
Probably for now they have failed in the execution of the plan and are now regrouping,” Masunungure said.
“It is, however, imperative to watch how the VP plays out his cards in such a scenario. If he manages to read and play it well, it could turn out for the worst for the G40 faction, or he could actually be the biggest loser in all this.”