Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao yesterday declared that he will never support Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged bid to succeed President Robert Mugabe in another dramatic twist to the battle to replace the 92-year-old ruler when he eventually leaves office.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew and a member of the Zanu PF politburo, becomes the second minister to publicly thrash Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions after Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
Moyo has accused the VP of using state institutions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to target his rivals in order to clear his path to State House.
Zhuwao told The Standard in an exclusive interview that Mnangagwa’s supporters had not given up their campaign for the leading Midlands politician to succeed Mugabe, even after the party sought to end factionalism with the expulsion of the VP’s nemesis Joice Mujuru in 2014.
“Those who were supporting Mnangagwa, I see that they are still going on with their bid to have him succeed the president,” Zhuwao said. “Because of this, I have been made to take a position on the issue of succession and my position is very clear, I will not support those who are saying the VP should succeed the president.
“The challenge here is that the people that claim to be supporting VP Mnangagwa are doing it in a manner that seems to want to give the impression that vice-president Mnangagwa was appointed to succeed President Mugabe,” he added.
The minister, who denied that he belonged to a Zanu PF faction known as G40 alongside Moyo and Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, appeared to suggest that the VP’s campaign for the top post was doomed.
“I think they will be shocked and surprised because it is those very same people who are doing a great disservice to the VP,” he said.
“They [war veterans] said that he must succeed the president and if he does not, there will be blood on the floor.
“That alone, is a blow to the VP. As a Zanu PF member, I must not be intimidated to support the VP but must be allowed to do it freely.
“So when you threaten me, I will definitely look at his envisaged government, that if people oppose him he would kill them, and that to me is damaging.
“People in Zanu PF must be allowed to make choices without being intimidated with death or war, like what the so-called supporters of VP ED are doing.
“Surely we can’t allow a country to be run by people who threaten to kill when they get state power and machinery,” he added.
“The effect of the Mutsvangwa declaration was to move me away from supporting the candidature of VP Mnangagwa because I have to freely make my own decision without undue fear or intimidation.
“So with that, if at this point in time, I would not support VP Mnangagwa at all.”
A section of Zanu PF is pushing for the amendment of the party constitution to restore a clause stipulating that one of the VPs must be a woman in an effort to elbow out Mnangagwa.
Some also want to restore the post of VP to be filled through elections as they believe the Justice minister cannot win an internal poll.