By Tendai Kamhungira
Zanu PF youths have thrown the gauntlet to the ruling party bigwigs saying everyone but President Robert Mugabe will be challenged in the primary elections ahead of next year’s elections.
With Mugabe the only one who has been endorsed as Zanu PF candidate for the 2018 elections — his deputies Phelekezela Mphoko and Emmerson Mnangagwa — will not be spared as the confident secretary for the youth league Kudzanai Chipanga was now making it a habit to publicly undress the ruling party top brass.
While addressing thousands of party supporters at a youth-organised interface rally in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West Province on Saturday, Chipanga, who has since caused a lot of unease in Cabinet after he demanded an end of year appraisal of all ministers during a previous rally, indicated that the youths were now ready to takeover.
“Gushungo (Mugabe’s totem), youths are calm at the moment, because we are not having any elections this year.
“They are only speaking about one person, RG Mugabe. But once we get into next year and the political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere announces the start of election campaigns, we want to stand as candidates as Members of Parliaments and for councils.
“The youths are firmly behind you, and are declaring that the only person who is safe from being challenged and will have a soft-landing is none other than RG Mugabe. All the other MPs, who do not work well with others, who do not listen to first Lady Grace Mugabe, we are surely going to challenge them,” Chipanga said.
The ruling party is currently embroiled in serious factional fights that are threatening to further split the party ahead of the 2018 crucial elections.
The discord in the ruling party is seen by many as epitomising the bigger political fight pitting a group of Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s factions which are seen as the leading contenders to succeed Mugabe.
The G40, allegedly comprises Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, Youth minister Patrick Zhuwao, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Chipanga and is believed to have the backing of the First Family.
These two camps have been fighting tooth and nail to outwit one another in the battle to succeed Mugabe, 93.
And on Saturday, Mugabe indicated that he now trusts the youths more than any of his lieutenants as he admonished those who had sanctioned the termination of contracts of youth officers.
Speaking at the rally, Mugabe who was obviously charmed by the huge numbers that teemed to the event on a wintry day and heaped praises on the secretary for the youth league, Chipanga, said his Cabinet never okayed the termination of the youths’ contracts.
“You are doing this good work and I hear that some youths who were working for government have been fired but we never heard about that. Our economy is recovering, is that the time we should be dismissing our youths? How can they say we have no money now…please reinstate those youths, we never agreed on that. The issue of firing those youths was never agreed. Where is the ministry of Finance and Labour, please stop it,” said Mugabe.
Over the past few months, the Team Lacoste camp seemed to have gained traction, with Mnangagwa being seen as the obvious heir apparent.
However, events over the past week drastically changed, with the G40 seemingly back on the pedal.
Amid these factional fights, Mugabe has been leaning more to the youths and the women’s league for support, after war veterans, seen to be backing Mnangagwa’s cause, dumped him.
It is against this background that Chipanga’s declaration will likely garner support from Mugabe, who currently has a soft spot for the youths, in his bid to lure them for support in next year’s watershed elections, which will likely be his last.
The bickering on who is going to succeed the 93-year-old leader has opened the door for several speculations and Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi’s name has also been cast into the net.
And now the inclusion of Mugabe’s wife Grace into the succession equation has further added spice to the debate.
Mugabe has remained mum on who is likely to succeed him, but has in the past pulled a few unpredictable moves, that have kept people guessing with the latest being his wife’s calls for him to name a successor. Daily News