Zanu PF factional fights continue unabated as the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe gathers pace.
Youth and Indigenisation minister and Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao (PZ), who is linked to the G40 faction in the ruling Zanu PF party, yesterday opened up on the emotive issue of succession and boldly declared that he will never support Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed his uncle.
the big interview BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Zhuwao, in an exclusive interview with our senior reporter Xolisani Ncube (XN) at his farm, said if Mnangagwa believed he could succeed Mugabe, he must subject himself to an election for his current post and prove that he has the support of the grassroots within the party.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
XN: Honourable minister, we have read and heard reports of factionalism within Zanu PF. Are there factions in the party?
PZ: We have to look at this issue with some background understanding and appreciation.
Before the 2014 party congress, we had two known factions within the party, that is the one that was led by Amai [Joice] Mujuru and the other which was said to be backing Cde Mnangagwa.
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As you may be aware, Mujuru was kicked out of the party and it is now public record that she has started her own party.
It must be understood that some of the people who were working with her left the party and the majority remained after realising that the party is bigger than individuals.
I must tell you that I salute these people because they believe in principles and not individuals.
But the other faction said to be aligned to Cde Mnangagwa, remained and unfortunately they continued to do what they were doing.
We thought that they would change and dissolve the faction after lessons from the Mujuru issue, but unfortunately not.
The fundamental thing here is that the whole noise today, which you are saying is factionalism, is not a factional issue but a succession issue.
There are camps that lead the issue of succession. Let me give you some top secrets; when we were going for the 2014 congress and we were faced with this Mujuru threat to tear the party apart, Cde [Jonathan] Moyo Cde [Saviour] Kasukuwere and myself sat down with other people in the party trying to map the way forward on how to handle the succession issue.
We came across some information relating to the Unity Accord, which talks to the aspect of the president appointing his deputies and this, we thought, was going to deal with the succession issue and get this matter closed.
We sold the idea to the party and gladly, it was accepted. The idea then was to ensure that the president is the only centre of power and both his deputies serve at his mercy so that we don’t have negative competition or self-inflicted competition.
But we have realised that we did not solve this issue because it has come back to be a problem now, manifesting itself in the said faction which is said to be supporting Vice-President Mnangagwa [in his bid to] succeed President Mugabe.
The position of one centre of power was also backed by the national constitution on the aspect of succession in the first 10 years and when that happened, the president then appointed his VPs.
But within a few weeks, less than two weeks, certain narratives started emerging which sought to portray VP Mnangagwa as being anointed to succeed President Mugabe — something which was totally wrong.
XN: Which faction did you belong to then, and did the Mujuru faction completely die? PZ: Well, I was not a member of any faction and I am not. But what I know is that the then Mujuru faction went on to form their own party and that means it dissolved itself in Zanu PF.
But those who were supporting VaMnangagwa, I see that they are still going on with their bid to have him succeed the president.
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 sipport those who are saying the VP should succeed the president.
XN: Can you tell us in detail what motivated the issue of one centre of power, looking at what is happening now.
PZ: The issue, as I said, was aimed at dealing with the succession talk, but I see it is failing and we need a re-look, seriously. The idea then was to ensure whoever got the power and authority as president would not get entangled in the succession debate.
We were trying to ensure that the party and government do not get paralysed by the succession debate, but that seems not to be the case and that is why today, you are seeing Mashonaland Central province coming up with this resolution to say let us do away with this and go back to the election, maybe we could stop the parasite called succession.
XN: Do you think that an election of the VPs would end the issue of succession, and how?
PZ: If you look at some of the issues that are being raised, one is left with an idea that it would. The challenge that we have here is where people are mistaking appointment as anointment and that has created a lot of challenges.
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.
I think they will be shocked and surprised because it is those very same people who are doing a great disservice to the VP.
And I remember this very well during one of our central committee meetings when the issue of Chris Mutsvangwa [the war veterans leader] came up; the VP himself indicated that Mutsvangwa was doing a disservice to him.
XN: How does Mutsvangwa do a disservice to the VP?
PZ: He does it in a big way. let’s look at what his association said about Cde ED. They 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. 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.
Sure, if you have such kind of people saying that, what will happen when he gets into power and you disagree with him? Tinopera tesezve [all of us will be wiped out].
So with that, it was at that point in time [that I decided] I would not support VP Mnangagwa at all.
XN: Do you think Mnangagwa has the character and ability to succeed Mugabe?
PZ: I have never applied my mind to the person of Vice-President Mnangagwa being the successor of President Mugabe because he is still there and very much mandated to do so.
I have refused to entertain that dialogue but I have looked to the people who are pushing that and realised that those people are totally dangerous for the VP and his career.
The problem with these people is that they would want to claim ownership of the vice-president; they want to capture state institutions, to a point where the whole concept of democracy, the whole concept of freedom of expression gets undermined.
I think it is the people that claim to support the succession of VP Mnangagwa that have pushed me away from him.
XN: So in your view, the issue of one centre of power has caused a lot of problems for Zanu PF?
PZ: No, it has actually exposed charlatans and they fall into the trap. those who are unelectable now would want to ride on President Mugabe and claim the authority.
It has exposed charlatans who want to pretend that they are loyal to VaMugabe when they are not. I can give you one example, Chris Mutsvangwa, after he was relieved of his duties he said a hell lot of things and really even criticised the concept of one centre of power.
We now know that these people are afraid of elections but would want to ride on the back of the president.
XN: Those who are pushing for its abolition are saying people are abusing it to backbite the president while claiming that they love him. do you believe in that narrative?
PZ: You know what, if there is anything that I am enjoying, it is this discussion that has been ignited by Mashonaland Central and really, those people who have believed that VP Mnangagwa can succeed the president have been exposed, they fell into a big trap.
They are busy telling us and portraying him as a potential successor of the president and the guys in Mashonaland Central have said let us go for an election to see if you have support, [then]they run scared, why?
Does your man have the support you purport he has? The most fascinating thing about all this is that those that claim to want Vice-president Mnangagwa to take over, do not want him to be subjected to the people. They are afraid of an election [breaks into long laughter].
XN: you have been accused of being a member of G40, does G40 exist?
PZ: No. it does not exist. I have absolutely no idea of what G40 is and I liked the comment that came from Professor [Jonathan] Moyo that when people talk about G40 it’s me, him and Kasukuwere, that’s all.
In fact, I come last and normally it’s him and Kasukuwere. These are my schoolmates and fellow party colleagues. Let me give you a brief on the issue of G40, Cde Moyo in 2011 wrote an article that talked to the issues of generational understanding in our geo-politics.
He talked to issues that we need to shift our focus to the younger generation and it helped us to then craft our 2013 election manifesto, but some have coined it to mean a faction.
I am not a member of any faction. Most people who say G40, lack analytical skills to understand our geo-politics and how we should formulate the strategies for our campaigns.
Anyone who analyses politics must be able to understand that 77% of our voters are young people and you have to have policies that speak to their demands and that is what professor Moyo said then.
So when professor Moyo said G40, or generational 40, he was talking to demographic politics and helped us indeed win the 2013 elections.
XN: There are people who allege that as G40 members, you are pushing first Lady Grace Mugabe to take over from your uncle. tell us, what’s her position on this?
PZ: [laughs] she is the secretary for women’s league and very happy, as far as I know. We are not pushing anyone because we don’t need to. We have the president and he is still able to discharge his mandate well.
XN: War veterans say you have captured the president and turned him against the former fighters. What is your reaction to that?
PZ: [laughs] which war veterans? Mutsvangwa and his executive? don’t confuse a cabal and war veterans. Real war veterans are with the president and have been meeting him.
It’s Mutsvangwa who has pushed himself away from the president because of his successionist tendencies. The president owes his political life to the war veterans and no way will he ditch them.
War veterans too owe their success to him and they will not part ways; it is Mutsvangwa and his cabal who are abusing the association to push their agenda. I am not a war veteran and I can’t break an umbilical cord which I was not even part to when it was formed.
XN: Who then should succeed the president seeing that he is already 92 and not getting any younger?
PZ: The successor, as far as I know, will come from the people. The people will decide at an appropriate time who should be their next leader. When the president appointed the two VPs, he appointed them to help him and not to succeed him.
XN: In your view, does the VP really see himself as a possible successor to the president and could he be behind those who are pushing for his rise?
PZ: In my view, this is being done by people who have no political gravitas, people who want to mislead him by telling him that ‘we are the people who made you who you are today’.
I hope he does not get carried away by these lies. Those people have no political relevancy, because I believe the VP knows that he is there because of the president and no one else.
He is just an appointee, like other politburo members but surrounded by people who think they are masters of strategies and have the ability to make him great.
They are challenged to bring their man for an election and they run away [laughs]. it’s really embarrassing. What I however fear [is that], he seems not to be telling those people who are misleading him to stop doing so because they are soiling his image. He must do something if he is really not with them.
XN: The war veterans have accused you and G40 of claiming to love the president as cover for your alleged looting of state resources. What is your response to that?
PZ: [laughs] you said the war veterans my brother, say the Mutsvangwa cabal. Anyway, listen, I can’t claim to love the president when he is my mother’s brother. He is my mother and Mutsvangwa must know that.
I can’t love a foreigner and leave my own blood. He [Mutsvangwa]is just a lost cause. These people must know that the president would never allow me to abuse him, and he would deal with me immediately.
XN: Are you happy with the state of the party?
PZ: I am happy largely, but saddened with the mechanisms that we put in place to deal with the toxic succession issue once and fall all; I realise that it is causing problems.
We have parasites, political parasites who want to milk the president and go higher on his back…something they are unable to do in a democratic manner.
I think we need to put an end to this discussion and focus on the economy for once.