PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa this week consolidated his plan to obliterate the G40 faction in Zanu PF that once fought fierce battles to block his ascendency to power when he invited its ringleaders to his inauguration, insiders disclosed.
At the twilight of strongman Robert Mugabe’s reign, Zanu PF split into two rival factions – the G40 and Mnangagwa’s Lacoste.
Mugabe’s wife Grace was the face of G40, which was a creation of young Turks, who wanted to renew the party from within.
Their battles were marked by deadly power struggles, which led to the former president firing top party officials, including Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa, however, prevailed following a coup in 2017, which forced many members of the G40 into exile. But in a surprise move this week, the former first lady, vice-presidents Joyce Mujuru and Phelekezela Mphoko and several G40 members sat with the VIP guests as their former rival took oath for his second term in office during a colourful event attended by three Sadc heads of state.
Party insiders said Mnangagwa wants to bring key G40 kingpins under his wing to block moves by exiled former political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere to form a new formidable party.
They said Mnangagwa feels this will ensure he leaves a unified party at the end of his term in 2028, which will be led by a trusted lieutenant.
Kasukuwere challenged Mnangagwa for the presidency in last month’s polls before he was disqualified by the Supreme Court. Kasukuwere's announcement to contest the presidential elections sent shock waves in Zanu PF. Zanu PF insiders also said Mnangagwa would not want disgruntled members to join break-away factions, especially the Kasukuwere camp, where Walter Mzembi, the former foreign affairs minister, is the chairperson.
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“There are many people, who see no reason in keeping up the fight against Mnangagwa, like Kasukuwere and Mzembi, so they would rather re-join the party,” one source said.
Before his move to invite G40 members to Monday’s inauguration, Mnangagwa reportedly started the ball rolling by making sure Mphoko was paid his outstanding terminal benefits, the sources said.
Grace Mugabe, Kasukuwere, Mzembi, former cabinet ministers Patrick Zhuwao and Jonathan Moyo were among Mnangagwa’s rivals, who rooted for the former first lady’s ascendancy to power.
But insiders this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that in the coming months, many G40 members were likely to troop back to Zanu PF, taking advantage of Mnangagwa’s olive branch.
Word doing the rounds within the party was that G40 members capitalised on the invitations to pledge loyalty and secure their assets.
Sources said others were simply desperate to return after falling on hard times.
“Remember what Mnangagwa always says about how big the party is as an institution. There are many people who see no reason in keeping up the fight against Mnangagwa, like Kasukuwere and Mzembi, so they would rather re-join the party,” a source said.
“As you have noticed people like Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao last year wrote to Mnangagwa apologising. Moyo on the other hand is rabidly defending Mnangagwa’s win in the August 23 presidential election and could be on his way back into the party.”
Former ministry of Higher Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa this week wrote a letter warming up to Mnangagwa’s leadership.
“It is now obvious they are coming back after President Mnangagwa reached out to them ahead of the election. Even Mphoko, who was demanding his exit package and pensions, was recently paid his dues,” the source said.
Zanu PF acting national director for information Farai Marapira on Wednesday said the former first lady's presence, together with other former G40 members speaks to the "magnanimity of Mnangagwa and his forgiving spirit".
“It was indeed pleasing to see the former first lady, the former vice-presidents and all former members of Zanu PF that came to the inauguration to celebrate together with their family,” Marapira said.
“Zanu PF is one big unitary family, we might have our disagreements and we might have our issues but we always find each other at the end. This also speaks to the magnanimity of President ED Mnangagwa, his forgiving spirit, his desire to see all his family in Zanu PF under one umbrella.”
He added: “This speaks well of him because he not only speaks but also acts and he has brought together yesteryear enemies of people with disagreements back into the fold and this is a very good sign for us and we are happy”.
However, another source close to the developments said the former first lady was trying to protect family interests.
“This was just an issue of protecting interests hence the reason why Robert Jnr has been attending Zanu PF rallies religiously. A word had also been put into the former first family to attend national events,” another source added.
Meanwhile, political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya this week told the Independent that Mnangagwa’s former colleagues were coming back to protect their assets.
"What they want is to keep him on their radar of sympathetic benevolence,” he said.
“But for Mphoko it’s good old loyalty. But this does not solve their problems because Zanu PF factional politics has several moving parts. Do you honestly think Joice and Grace have forgiven ED?”
Another political analyst Augustine Tirivangani said the attendance was a sign of political tolerance and maturity.
“The attendance of former First Lady Mugabe, vice-presidents, Mphoko, Mujuru and indeed many others from different clusters of the entire political divide is an optimistic marker of political maturity,” he said.
“The inauguration of a president is a national event which every one of sober national consciousness is morally bound to observe with a keen sense of duty.”
Tirivangani said the attendances were also important as a show of solidarity giving the entire process a grain of national legitimacy.
“In the face of international negations, their attendance becomes a reminder to all detractors that our internal differences are not fissures they can exploit; because Zimbabweans espouse their nationalism above minor internal differences. It is an optimistic marker for our future fortified unity,” he said.