By Chengetai Zvauya
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe yesterday boasted that he was still firmly in charge of Zanu PF and the country, warning all those he claimed were seeking to remove him from power that he would descend on them heavily.
In his coded speech, Mugabe virtually attacked everyone, including Mujuru, his wife, gays and those sucking up to foreigners, especially whites.
From Bishop Trevor Manhanga’s “unity” prayer, it was clear that yesterday’s event was a well-choreographed affair and the 90-year-old leader reminded his lieutenants about how he had “united friend, and foe at independence” — especially racial enemies in 1980.
In rebuking ambitious, but quarrelsome lieutenants, Mugabe said no one was in his generation and therefore, people must stop dreaming about pushing him out of power.
Crucially, he said the attainment of educational qualifications must not be used as a means or platform to fight others and instead called on his officials to concentrate on infrastructure-build.
Mugabe did not mince his words about his disgust at the goings-on in his party.
The Zanu PF leader not only gave one of his most balanced speeches in as many years, but also set the stage or tone for tomorrow’s crunch politburo meeting.
Mugabe, who had until yesterday remained quiet in the public fallout between his wife and Mujuru, also hinted at sacking his political adversaries and making drastic changes within Zanu PF during the party’s December elective congress.
Speaking at a luncheon to celebrate the opening of the Second Session of the 8th Parliament in Harare, Mugabe launched furious attacks which some analysts said were directed at Mujuru and her supporters and the anti-Mujuru gang led by Grace.
Mugabe sarcastically said that that some people were now “accumulating doctorates” to use them to remove him from power. Both Mujuru and Grace obtained doctorates recently.
“We are preparing for the congress and we have people in the party fighting for positions trying to push each other out … I can assure you that we are not going to have this nonsense of senior party members fighting each other for positions.
“I know that some are saying hanzi vaMugabe vachembera ngavabve. Kwandakabva nemabhunu ndongonzi nekamwana kadiki ndibve, I will not go anywhere. Hapana kwandinoenda. Ndichiripo, nguva yangu haisati yakwana. (Some are saying Mugabe is old and must go, I have come a long way and I will not go. My time is not yet up) I will end all this nonsense at the congress,” he warned as the MPs he was addressing looked stunned.
Without mentioning the names of the politicians that were allegedly plotting to topple him, he accused some officials of allegedly working with Britons and Americans to engineer his ouster.
“We have some that have doctorates, they want Mugabe to go … they went to USA to get billions and what rotten thinking is that? All these years you have never learnt that these people will never be your friends,” Mugabe said.
He said he did not want to see his party splintering into factions as was happening currently in the opposition MDC.
“There are too many MDC factions. There is now MDC renewal, what renewal are they are talking about yet in the inclusive government they were one?”Mugabe asked.
Conspicuous by their absence at the luncheon were Mujuru and Grace, both of whom had earlier attended the official opening of Parliament with him.
Mugabe’s tirade yesterday happened as the top echelons of Zanu PF are riven with palpable tension ahead of the party’s politburo meeting slated for tomorrow.
Last Friday’s much-anticipated first round politburo bout on the controversial “Meet the People” rallies addressed by Grace over the past few weeks, and where she slaughtered the embattled Mujuru, ended in the dark and with a whimper.
Firstly, the standby power generator at the party’s Harare headquarters mysteriously failed to kick following a mega Zesa blackout, and then Mugabe cunningly postponed the Grace/Mujuru hot potato by a week after he granted outgoing women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri her request to be given more time to compile a comprehensive report for the politburo on what transpired during Grace’s rallies.
However, insiders told the Daily News yesterday that the Mujuru camp will still be pushing for Muchinguri to explain circumstances surrounding the divisive Grace rallies, where the first lady accused Mujuru of being corrupt, plotting to topple Mugabe and fanning factionalism in the party, among many other serious allegations.
The final straw for the Mujuru camp was Grace’s last meeting with mainly war collaborators last Thursday, at her Mazowe business hub, where she ratcheted up her attacks on the VP.
Against all expectations that she would endeavour to control her emotions ahead of last week’s crucial politburo meeting, after weeks of heightened tension in the party that she is partly responsible for, she went berserk, lashing out even more fiercely at all her perceived enemies including the embattled Mujuru and Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde.
“Today is the day for (the) ‘Final Push’,” she said.
“I’m no longer going to beat about the bush. The moment of truth has arrived. Mujuru should go and rest because she has failed,” she said.
Also for the first time, the feisty first lady appeared to show her hand at that meeting when she called on Zimbabweans to “respect” Mnangagwa, whom she said had done “the honourable thing” and let Mujuru take the post, although he had been voted by eight provinces to be VP a decade ago.
“Mnangagwa is a man of honour. In 2004, he had the backing of eight provinces to become vice president.
“But when the president said that position was now reserved for a woman, Mnangagwa respected the decision despite having popular support. He never left the party in protest to form his own party because he respects Mugabe,” Grace said. Daily News