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Mnangagwa camp feels Zanu PF heat

By Blessings Mashaya and Tendai Kamhungira

HARARE – With embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa struggling to live up to the popular caricature of his nickname, that of a ruthless crocodile, in Zanu PF’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars, his supporters are being pummelled left, right and centre by their marauding party foes.

Justice Mayor Wadyajena seen here with his political godfather Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Justice Mayor Wadyajena seen here with his political godfather Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Just like what happened a decade ago when many of his most ardent supporters were decimated after the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration, after being accused of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe from power, history appears to be repeating itself with his close allies again being picked off one by one by their party enemies, like lambs to the slaughter.

And Lacoste himself, as Mnangagwa is fondly referred to by his loyal followers, once again stands accused of doing little that is visible in the public domain to protect leading members of his support group who are on the receiving end of the savage and unrelenting factional mauling.

At the heart of the Midlands godfather’s political travails and those of his supporters, is his long-mooted aspiration to succeed Mugabe — an ambition that is rabidly opposed by the post-congress Zanu PF’s Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40), who claim that he is “patently unelectable”.

Party insiders have previously claimed in various interviews with the Daily News that the G40 — which allegedly includes Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo — are trying to nudge First Lady Grace Mugabe to join the succession bun-fight.

Among the alleged allies of Mnangagwa who have recently come under severe pressure from inside Zanu PF are Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, former Manicaland women’s league chairperson Happiness Nyakuedzwa, and the power couple of Monica and Christopher Mutsvangwa.

Wadyajena stands accused of denigrating Grace while he was allegedly engaging in “political banter” with businessman and fellow Zanu PF official Jimayi Muduvuri during the ruling party’s just-ended annual conference that was held in Victoria Falls.

Nyakuedzwa and another alleged VP close ally, former Mashonaland Central youth league chairperson Godfrey Tsenengamu, were recently suspended from the ruling party for five years on allegations of fanning factionalism.

Former Harare provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa, former Harare women’s league chairperson Ratidzo Mukarati and former Masvingo chairperson Paradzai Chakona — all perceived strong backers of Mnangagwa — have also suffered votes of no confidence that were upheld by the party.

On Monday, Mutsvangwa — one of Mnangagwa’s closest and most vocal allies — also received a vote of no confidence from Mashonaland West province, for putting his party and government in jeopardy after he tried to take Kasukuwere head-on.

Mutsvangwa’s wife, Monica — a deputy minister — was also recently booted out of the women’s league for defying the First Family, while Muchinguri-Kashiri came under severe shellacking in Manicaland and in a recent politburo meeting.

Muchinguri-Kashiri’s troubles, according to insiders who spoke to the Daily News, came after she allegedly told Grace in the politburo meeting that she was the most senior party official in Manicaland, and thus always needed to be consulted on important decisions impacting on the region — in addition to insinuating that Grace had allegedly failed to run the women’s league properly.

“This angered Amai (Grace) and as she spoke, she got angrier and angrier, saying ‘wakabvira kare uchindijairira … (You have never respected me)” — apparently going on to give Muchinguri-Kashiri a severe tongue-lashing which resulted in the Water minister crying.

And there is no record in all these cases that Mnangagwa has done much to support or protect his allies, a failing that well-placed sources say the VP was guilty of in 2004/5 when his supporters who allegedly included Daniel Shumba, Mike Madiro, Josiah Hungwe and July Moyo were cast into the political wilderness for fighting for him.

But one supposed Mnangagwa ally, Tsenengamu, is valiantly trying to fight back on his own, vowing at the weekend that he would not go down without a fight after writing to Kasukuwere accusing the Local Government minister of fanning factionalism.

“I am not afraid of you neither do I fear your thuggery as a self-confessed ‘biggest political thug’ in Zanu PF. If you wish to deal with me in any way you are free to do so since you have the power and ultimate authority over me. I don’t fear being harmed, injured or maimed.

“I don’t fear any continued arrests on trumped-up charges but remember one of these days the prison doors will open for you as you will not continue to wield so much power and influence.

“All that you are doing is temporary and unsustainable. I don’t fear death because it is only God who has the ultimate authority over all including yourself,” Tsenengamu wrote in his combative letter. Daily News