President Robert Mugabe wants Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters who claimed the Midlands political godfather fell sick after eating poisoned ice-cream from Gushungo Holdings punished, senior Zanu PF officials have revealed.
By Everson Mushava/Obey Manayiti
Mugabe has been complaining about Zanu PF officials that blamed Mnangagwa’s health problems on his family and on Friday took the unprecedented step of revealing details of the VP’s ailment in public.
The VP was airlifted from a Gwanda rally addressed by Mugabe last month after he started vomiting and had diarrhoea.
He went on to receive treatment in South Africa and Zanu PF officials have been captured in videos denouncing Mnangagwa’s opponents for allegedly using poison to try and eliminate him.
The dispute escalated during Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s funeral wake where Tourism minister Walter Mzembi was humiliated for allegedly being Mugabe’s “blue eyed boy”, who was being used to poison others.
Zanu PF officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mugabe had ordered the party’s disciplinary organs to take action amid indications decisive action would be taken against those found to be behind the poison slogans.
The disciplinary process could be used to further weaken Mnangagwa’s base following the expulsion of leaders of war veterans who were pushing for him to take over from Mugabe.
“Those who made claims that the VP was poisoned through ice cream from the president’s dairy will appear before the disciplinary committee to defend their claims,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
“The party cannot tolerate such indiscipline. Members should account for their actions.”
Mugabe on Friday said he had met Mnangagwa’s doctors last week who told him the VP was not poisoned.
Sources told The Standard that Mnangagwa was forced to issue a statement after his doctors met Mugabe.
The VP Mnangagwa met Mugabe on Wednesday in the company of his doctors while party members were holding solidarity march in support of first lady Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe is said to have asked Mnangagwa why he had remained silent when the image of his dairy was being soiled.
“After sensing Mugabe’s anger, Mnangagwa reportedly ordered party officials from Midlands to advise Zanu PF supporters to stop using the ‘Pasi ne poison’ slogans at the Midlands rally fearing that it may draw fire from the angry Mugabe,” another senior Zanu PF official said.
“Team Lacoste members did not sleep between Wednesday and Friday as they went to party cells ordering members to stop using the slogans.
“To control this, Team Lacoste resolved to have party members sit according to districts at the Gweru so that they could make sure that no one chanted the slogan.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo Mugabe said the issue could be debated at the next politburo meeting.
He criticised a publication that yesterday claimed Mugabe had told the Gweru rally that Mnangagwa was poisoned.
“Some reports are quite mischievous, a confirmation that journalism has gone to the gutter,” Khaya Moyo said.
“(Mugabe) eloquently gave details of the alleged ‘poisoning of VP Mnangagwa after spending more than an hour with the doctor.”
He said Zanu PF was relieved that Mnangagwa had recovered from the illness.
“The police have apprehended someone who was spreading alarm and despondency on his Facebook page,” Khaya Moyo said.
“We hope this person will give details of where he got his story,” he said in reference to musician and businessman, Energy Mutodi.
Mutodi was arrested last week after claiming that Defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi and Health minister, David Parirenyatwa aly poisoned Mnangagwa.
Khaya Moyo said the party was hopeful the arrest would put an end to ‘rumour mongering.”
Signs that all was not well between Mugabe and Mnangagwa surfaced in July when Grace publicly asked her husband to name a successor.
Mnangagwa is accused of working with the military in his alleged bid to seize power.
Meanwhile, University of Zimbabwe senior political lecturer Eldred Masungure said removing Mnangagwa would not be a stroll in the park for Mugabe.
He said unlike Mujuru who was swept away through rallies addressed by Grace, Mnangagwa had powerful backers that included security forces.
“The parallels that you are drawing are both valid and also false between VP Mnangagwa and former VP Mujuru,” Masunungure said when asked if the VP won’t suffer as similar fate as his predecessor.
“The strategy is more or less similar but I think the power base of the two is substantially different such that it will be much more difficult to push VP Mnangagwa out as it was with Mujuru.”
He said it may not be possible to push the VP out before next year’s election even when a Zanu PF special congress was being organised to finish him off.
“It needs a more sustained onslaught on VP Mnangagwa and also the dissolution of his power base which is presently seems to lie in the security sector, particularly the military,” Masunungure said.
“It would need a more sustained campaign and deploying more resources plus dissolution of his power base.
“I don’t think it would be an easy push and because of his previous expertise and competences such as winning elections for his boss I doubt the boss will dispose of him before 2018 elections.”
Masunungure said the only hurdle the G40 faction had encountered in dealing with Mnangagwa washis strong powerbase in the security sector.
He said there were plans to rope in youths to replace war veterans who are siding with the VP.
“Those are attempts to disintegrate his powerbase, the war veterans are more or less counted out and on the military there could be ways to dissolve that in a way that don’t render them incompetent such as getting rid of the top layers of the military,” Masunungure said.
“That will be more sustained effort that will require the president himself to implement,” he said.
“The rest of G40 would like Mnangagwa out before the elections but I think the president is more conscious and wait until after elections unless circumstances compel him to retire him.
“The timing of the removal of Mnangagwa, that is if it happens, will be probably after the elections after the victory of Mugabe.”
G4O, which has the likes of Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, wants Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi to take over from Mugabe.