BY SIMBARASHE SITHOLE/NUNURAI JENA
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday failed to attend a rally to thank his supporters following his controversial July 2018 election win, raising fresh speculation about alleged fissures in the presidium.
Officially, Mnangagwa failed to travel to Mt Darwin because he was briefing African leaders through the phone about the situation in Zimbabwe following a deadly military clampdown on dissent.
However, the absence of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga at the poorly attended rally addressed by his counterpart Kembo Mohadi was not explained.
Mnangagwa was earlier in the week forced to deny reports that he had fallen out with Chiwenga.
The president’s spokesperson George Charamba said the Zanu PF leader had spent the day at his Munhumutapa offices talking to African leaders and receiving special envoys he had sent out to the region.
A motorcade was seen arriving at Mnangagwa’s farm in Kwekwe at 3pm, but it was not clear if it was carrying the president. The motorcade, which had a police escort and ambulance, was not accompanied by soldiers.
Sources said the president was due to travel to Mvuma after he lost an uncle during the week.
At the rally, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri also repeated the same claims at the rally in Mt Darwin.
“Our president is expecting some dignitaries from outside the country…..you know what happened recently, he is to explain our position in connection with that,” she said.
Mohadi said his boss had other pressing commitments in Harare and could not make it to the rally.
“The president has other programmes this afternoon so he failed to make it here…that is the reason we were late in coming here,” he said.
Mohadi accused non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of working with Western countries to destabilise Zimbabwe.
“We have more than 35 000 NGOs that are more than the number of our defence forces. They represent and work for countries that sponsor them to destabilise our country,” he claimed.
Mohadi said Zanu PF was infiltrated by spies that were feeding information to its enemies.
He attacked foreign journalists and the privately-owned media, which has been exposing the excesses during the latest army crackdown.
“The reports by Western media houses like BBC, CNN and some private-owned media houses are not balanced; they are busy reporting about the arrests of hooligans without focusing on the trail of destruction by these hooligans,” he said.
“We can forgive, but surely we cannot forget, the full wrath of the law will descend on them.”
The VP said increases in prices of basic commodities were meant to incite people to turn against the government. By the time he finished his one hour-long speech, most people had left the venue.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF Mashonaland Central chairperson Kazembe Kazembe blamed the poor attendance at the rally on poor logistics, saying they only received fuel coupons of Friday night.
“We would like to thank you for coming here despite having fuel challenges,” he told the crowd.
“We received our fuel very late yesterday [Friday], but all the same as party-loving people we have managed to come.”
The rally, which was scheduled to start at 10am and end at 1pm, only got underway at 2pm and most people started walking out of the venue after word began filtering in that Mnangagwa was not comiing.
“We know they are some bad elements among us. These people are spying to our enemies for money. Let me assure you these people will not be tolerated in the new dispensation.”
Mohadi castigated Western and privateowned media houses for publishing the just-ended violent protests without revealing the trail of destruction.