‘Mnangagwa in a corner’
By Fungi Kwaramba
As the ugly infighting ravaging President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF gets more ominous, with yet another minister receiving a bullet parcel on Monday, ruling party opponents of Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa say “nothing” can save the embattled Midlands godfather and his allies.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa’s foes were now “more determined than ever” to finish him off and his allies politically, as the battle to succeed the increasingly-frail 91-year-old leader gets deadlier by the day.
While Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha was the first to receive a bullet and a threatening message for him to step down or risk suffering the same fate as the late Elliot Manyika — who died in a suspicious car accident in 2008 — Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane became the second minister within the past six months to get an ominous warning after he found a live bullet in his hotel room in Harare on Monday.
The threat to Hlongwane came after the ruling party ordered its Midlands structure to conduct hearings against provincial bigwigs who stand accused of threatening Hlongwane and two other ministers, as Mnangagwa’s home province is consumed by the former liberation movement’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said as long as Mugabe, who turns 92 in a few weeks’ time, did not anoint a successor, the wars in his party would escalate — with dire, and possibly fatal consequences soon.
The insiders who spoke to the Daily News also said Mnangagwa’s party enemies were determined to deal with the beleaguered VP and his key supporters “in the same brutal manner” that they destroyed his predecessor, former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
“Mnangagwa’s loyalists starting from the politburo, the central committee and then the provinces will come under the hammer more and more.
“Very soon we will see them being chucked out from the party one by one. The idea is to leave him (Mnangagwa) with no support and to expose him as a person who cannot stand for his comrades,” one of the sources said.
And as these claims were being made, it was revealed that more purges of alleged Mnangagwa allies were taking place in Mashonaland West, where provincial political commissar Simon Solomon, who stands accused of assaulting a member of the women’s league and denigrating First Lady Grace Mugabe, has fallen.
A letter to Solomon seen by the Daily News and signed by regional secretary for administration Simbarashe Ziyambi accused him of “acting like a warlord”, abusing his position in the party, causing anarchy and despondency, and ridiculing and denigrating Grace and politburo members.
“You went on a spirited campaign discouraging members of our party from attending the first lady’s visit to Kadoma where she was to launch a housing scheme.
“Your apparent dislike of the first lady also led you to divert a bus which had been hired to transport members from Kadoma to a function that was being hosted by the first lady in Mazowe,” reads part of Solomon’s suspension letter.
Other party officials who have also been suspended in the province and are linked to Mnangagwa include Fani Phiri, Sibongile Bhebhe and Philip Ndushu.
“All these Ngwena (Mnangagwa) supporters who are beside themselves with glee because he has been made acting president just don’t understand politics. Just watch what’s happening around,” another Zanu PF insider said.
Political analyst Maxwell Saugweme told the Daily News that the Mnangagwa camp needed to draw lessons from history.
“Zanu PF, politically, is the most confusing party. There is no guarantee that Ngwena (Mnangagwa) will survive. Don’t forget that before the demise of Mujuru, even a few months or so before she was fired, Mugabe left her acting as president and you journalists also speculated that she would survive and that Mugabe was not listening to the demands of his wife to fire Mujuru.
“The short of it is that nothing is straightforward in that chaotic and confused party called Zanu PF. It’s a party under siege and struggling with leadership renewal,” he said.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe’s advanced age and waning health were the main reasons behind the new rush to “outsmart each other” in Zanu PF.
“Factionalism in Zanu PF has worsened because of the unresolved succession issue. As long as the president is fragile, as long as he does not name a successor, then it will worsen,” he said.
The Daily News reported yesterday a number of Mnangagwa’s key allies in his Midlands heartland face possible expulsion from the warring post-congress Zanu PF as the battle to succeed Mugabe reaches a crescendo.
This emerged as the province’s party disciplinary committee started hearing complaints against three of his alleged regional lieutenants — national deputy secretary for administration July Moyo, Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena and Owen Muda Ncube.
The hearing was initiated after three ministers — Anastasia Ndhlovu, Tapiwa Matangaidze and Hlongwane — all now linked to the Generation 40 camp that is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa, complained to the Zanu PF national leadership that they were being intimidated by the trio.
Deputy provincial chairperson Mackenzie Ncube, who chairs the disciplinary committee, confirmed that the trio had already been put to its defence and said the outcome of the hearing would only be announced next week.
“The hearing is still at the preliminary stage but we need to be thorough when accusations are raised against members. It is my first time to handle such matters, so there is need to get to the bottom of the matter, hence we will only be able to announce the outcome next week,” Mackenzie said.
But the Daily News was reliably informed that the G40 had decided that now was the time to press home its advantage in the party’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars, and get the trio expelled.
“It is tickets for them. They are gone because the evidence against them is overwhelming. There is no need to wait until next week when the facts are all there for everyone to see.
“These people are just buying time, but it will not change anything,” a provincial executive member who is said to be aligned to the G40 said, confirming consistently accurate reports carried by the Daily News on the ugly goings-on in the province.
Apart from the threats allegedly directed at the ministers, the other accusations against Wadyajena relate to claims that he is allegedly disrespectful to the First Family.
He also stands accused of being behind the province’s recent youth wing resolution to have Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere removed from his post in favour of someone with liberation war credentials, a demand that was made ahead of the party’s December annual conference in Victoria Falls.
On the other hand, Kizito Chivamba, the Midlands party provincial chairperson, is said to be the next bigwig facing the boot after he was recently admonished by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko for mispronouncing the VP’s name during a rally in the province that was addressed by Grace.
And with critics noting that Mnangagwa was struggling to live up to the popular caricature of his nickname, that of a ruthless crocodile and his supporters being pummelled left, right and centre by their marauding G40 opponents, it remains to be seen whether “Lacoste” will finally come to the rescue of his foot soldiers. Daily News