By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – In a surprise move, President Robert Mugabe on Thursday fingered both Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa — whose nickname is Ngwena (crocodile) — as the bigwigs leading factions in Zanu PF during an explosive Zanu PF politburo meeting.
Mugabe wants both factions investigated and will soon appoint a commission of inquiry into the factional fighting. In the process Mugabe and the politburo dismissed First Lady Grace Mugabe’s assertion that there was only one faction led by Mujuru.
In a briefing after the stormy meeting, the Daily News was told that Mugabe was asked why he had not come up with a clear succession plan which would have prevented the current vicious factional fight.
Mugabe was taken aback and reportedly said he still had not found a suitable candidate.
Until now, Mugabe’s wife — Grace, Mnangagwa’s supporters and the partisan State media had worked hard to paint the impression that only Mujuru was identified with factionalism in the party.
The Daily News was also authoritatively told that after an earlier attack by Mugabe, Mujuru unleashed a powerful presentation defending herself, leaving even those baying for her blood impressed.
“After President Mugabe’s earlier attack while addressing supporters, Mujuru was on fire and challenged those feeding the president with lies to come out in the open and face her. I have never seen that woman so vicious and articulate. She impressed even Mugabe because clearly these people are lying about her.
“She made it clear that her intention was not to remove the President. She made convincing arguments and that is why even the President has decided to probe both factions. However, you could tell that Mugabe has been arm twisted by the wife and he is being told what to say. We can only feel sorry for the old man,” said the highly placed source.
Briefing the media at the end of the politburo meeting, Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo also said the party had decided to institute a Commission of Inquiry to look into factionalism, as well as Grace’s controversial “Meet the People” rallies of the past few weeks, during which she rubbished Mujuru’s name and called for the VP’s sacking.
In addition, the politburo endorsed the suspension of under-fire Mashonaland West provincial chairman Temba Mliswa, and banned the chanting of controversial slogans such as “Down with Weevils” and “Down with Gamatox” by party members.
“We had a long discussion on the report, that is secretary for Women Affairs Cde Oppah Muchinguri’s report. We discussed and debated what was in the report … issues relating to factionalism.
“The President was candid enough and frank enough to tell us about the factions that he has been told exist, and accordingly he will set up a commission to look into the allegations of these allegations,” Gumbo said.
Asked who the people Mugabe named as faction leaders, Gumbo said, “He (Mugabe) named the faction leaders. Mnangagwa has a faction, Vice President Mujuru has a faction and the commission will look into this.
“The debate was frank, open and at times quite explosive …There was robust discussion into that particular issue (Muchinguri report) that is why it led to the decision to try and set up a commission to look into that”.
Asked whether the politburo discussed the sensational allegations against Mujuru, he said the party’s highest decision-making body outside congress did not specifically look into that issue.
No names or timeframe have been given for the commission.
Gumbo also said contrary to media speculation that the party would split it was instead likely to be reinvigorated by the commission.
“We discussed the issue of Temba Mliswa and the disciplinary committee did come up with a decision. The decision is that they uphold the no-confidence vote passed on Mliswa because the simple majority that passed the decision was proved to be correct,” he said.
Gumbo ruled out the possibility of other provincial chairpersons suffering the same fate as Mliswa.
“With immediate effect no one should use slogans that are not appropriate with the party such as Down with Gamatox, Down with Chipfukuto (which are) out with immediate effect. We want slogans that unite the people,” he added. Daily News