By Fungi Kwaramba
The nasty brawl over the control of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government — driven by narrow economic interests — is threatening to paralyse both the State and the ruling Zanu PF.
And such is the ferocity of this crass war over resources, involving top Zanu PF officials and powerful businesspeople, that fears are growing that it could result in the kind of horror State capture show as has been exposed in neighbouring South Africa.
This comes as businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei — who has interests in agriculture and energy — has come under increasing scrutiny from various quarters over his dealings with the government.
This week alone, Tagwirei was in the spotlight again after he and his partners — Singaporean multi-national company Trafigura — released 100 million litres of fuel to the government under a one-and-a-half year agreement which, in total, will eventually see Zimbabwe receiving one billion litres of fuel.
Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said they feared that the “war for resources” — which was manifesting itself in “brazen attempts to capture the State” — could shatter the ruling party and also derail government’s push to turn around the country’s sickly economy.
One of the sources said the recent war of words which had broken out between Tagwirei and the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) Christopher Mutsvangwa — over the control of the country’s lucrative fuel industry — was part of the wider fight for control of the State.
“This titanic war is murky, dirty and far wider than the control of a fuel pipeline … There are four known groups which have emerged in Zanu PF, and which are fighting, together with their business associates, for the control of the State and the country’s resources.
“So, the fight to decapitate Tagwirei and his partners has little to do with improving the country’s economy … it is about all these groups fighting to secure a position at the top table,” the source said.
“These four groups include people who lost in the Zanu PF primary elections, those who won in the primary and national elections but were overlooked by Mnangagwa in his Cabinet choices, as well as some of the old guard who think age is no longer on their side and others who see themselves as kingmakers and consisting of relatives, a permanent secretary and former Cabinet ministers,” the source added.
“What makes this whole thing more confusing is that although Tagwirei has been outed as having captured the State — and he is part of one of the groups fighting for supremacy in the country — the government continues to deal with him as evidenced by this week’s fuel deal,” the source said further.
Meanwhile, war veterans jumped into the fray yesterday, demanding to have a stake in the country’s fuel industry.
This came just days after they petitioned Mnangagwa to sack former Cabinet ministers that he re-assigned to the Zanu PF headquarters, after he dropped them from his new Cabinet team.
The war veterans accuse the under-fire party bigwigs — who include secretary for administration Obert Mpofu and fellow politburo members David Parirenyatwa, Patrick Chinamasa and Sydney Sekeramayi — of undermining Mnangagwa, engaging in corrupt activities and sabotaging the president’s efforts to revive the country’s economy.
Of particular concern to the war veterans is Mpofu’s recent statement in which he said Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had not consulted party bigwigs when he unveiled his controversial austerity measures — which include the much-criticised two cents per dollar transaction tax.
Interestingly, Ncube went on to hire controversial former Zanu PF youth official William Gerald Mutumanje, also known as Acie Lumumba, to head a communications committee — in a move which backfired spectacularly after the maverick activist took to social media to attack Tagwirei and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
As a result, four RBZ directors were subsequently suspended pending investigations.
Another Zanu PF source said Mpofu and his colleagues were being targeted because they were allegedly part of “Tagwirei’s consortium” — with the businessman further said to have recently bought luxury vehicles for several ruling party bigwigs and senior government officials.
“We are arranging for a meeting of war veterans this week and I can tell you there is nothing wrong with us getting involved in the mainstream economy.
“The war veterans are against the monopoly that has been established by a corrupt cartel and we want that to end.
“As war veterans we are very much united and Mutsvangwa is still our chairperson. Others now have various responsibilities but otherwise we are more united than ever,” said Mashonaland Central province war vets chairperson Sam Parirenyatwa.
He also denied that the war veterans were taking sides with Mutsvangwa, who it is claimed, is fighting to push out Tagwirei in favour of South African company Mining, Oil and Gas Services.
War veterans spokesperson Douglas Mahiya also said there was nothing wrong with the former freedom fighters going into business.
“There are some people who want to ring fence their interests and now they are targeting war veterans. If I may ask, what is wrong with war veterans supplying fuel? Is fuel made in Zimbabwe or it is imported?” Mahiya asked rhetorically.
Interestingly, the Zanu PF youth league took an opposing position in the matter, warning party bigwigs yesterday against fighting Tagwirei.
Youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi said people should not “mistake Statecraft and State capture” — adding ominously that “the door is ever open for all those who feel bigger than the party”.
“We are … concerned at the extent of indiscipline and irresponsibility which is now being unfortunately stirred by some persons who all along we thought had the national interest at heart, but as things are turning out, are only interested in lining their pockets.
“There has been a lot of nonsense from otherwise respected individuals who are trying to put a wedge between the president and his two deputies through making sensational corruption stories which have no grain of truth in them.
“The youth league stands ready to defend the values of our great party and we will, if need arises, ask the party to take disciplinary action against loose cannons from the party, regardless of one’s political station or role.
“We are against factionalism and would want those who are trying to bring us back to the Robert Mugabe era of divisions to be punished accordingly,” Togarepi said in an apparent attack on Mutsvangwa. Daily News