HARARE – There are growing fears within the warring Zanu PF that deadly violence could break out on Africa Day when party youths opposed to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa hold what they say will be a pro-President Robert Mugabe “solidarity” march.
The serious concerns mounted yesterday after party youths aligned to the beleaguered VP came out in the open to say that they would start mobilising Zanu PF structures and supporters to block the much-hyped “million-man march” that is slated for May 25.
“I’m concerned that things are deteriorating rapidly again within the party, after a few weeks of relative peace. What is very clear is that the youths who plan to block the march have the support of some war veterans who have already been disagreeing openly themselves with the march organisers.
“It’s not looking good, and many of us fear that violence could erupt as witnessed in Harare last time when the war veterans were accosted by riot police,” a senior party official told the Daily News.
The bigwig’s comments came after the Zanu PF youths linked to Mnangagwa contemptuously described the planned march as a “waste of resources”, adding that as Mugabe was not “under any threat” there was therefore no need for the demonstration.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Team Lacoste, as the Mnangagwa faction is known, has long said it fears that the march is targeted at embarrassing the Midlands godfather and “neutralising” his mooted presidential ambitions.
Lacoste youths, led by former youth league chairpersons for Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West — Godfrey Tsenengamu and Vengai Musengi respectively -— confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that they would mobilise people to block the planned march.
“The march is a waste of resources that should be channelled towards income-generating projects for jobless youths countrywide who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Is there really anyone who wants to depose the president? Why the march then and what is the intention after all is done? Youths must refuse to be used by people pursuing a sinister agenda.
“The resources they (Zanu PF marchers) wish to waste on this day must be turned into a revolving youth fund . . . it should be used to either start or develop their businesses,” Musengi said pointedly.
“I appeal to my fellow comrades that we collectively launch the ‘Boycott the March Campaign’ as the 2018 polls are around the corner. Does our president need this march or he needs more supporters to be mobilised into the party to add to the million plus votes he got in 2013?
“Personally, and in my individual capacity as a patriotic youth of both Zanu PF and Zimbabwe, I am going to mobilise youths against this march and I mean it. Someone has to stop this madness or we will stop it by ourselves.
“What do we intend to achieve through this march really if I may ask? In 2007, we had a similar initiative of a million-man march by Jabulani Sibanda and what happened in the March 2008 elections?” Tsenengamu chipped in, asking rhetorically.
In 2007, Sibanda led war veterans in the original so-called million-man march and a year later, Mugabe spectacularly went on to lose that year’s presidential elections to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
A faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) led by former Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa is also continuing to threaten to boycott the march, saying they are still not aware of its “terms of reference”.
The faction’s spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya told the Daily News yesterday that they would not be part of the march, as “the protest is all meant to divide the party”.
“The march is not going to bring food on the table. It is not going to mobilise people to support the party. It is not going to make contributions in as far as the resuscitation of industries is concerned.
“Isu takatoneta nekufamba tichibva kuMozambique tisu takauya napresident netsoka saka regai vanoda kuonekwa vaite (War veterans are tired having walked all the way from Mozambique on foot together with Mugabe. Let those who want to be seen to be doing something go for it). So, we are not going to attend their march,” Mahiya said.
He added that the purported solidarity with Mugabe that the marchers had articulated was a fig leaf as the majority of Zimbabweans were wallowing in abject poverty.
Mahiya called on the youths to rather “look for methods to take the economy forward, not marching. It is not going to benefit anyone but those who are in top positions”. And as has become the norm, Mahiya — whose association has picked quarrels with Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere over allegations that the Local Government minister has failed in his mandate to organise the party, also accused the youthful minister of being “a failure”.
“They (Local Government ministry) are busy giving land to people who don’t have families whilst freedom fighters are still living under trees,” he complained of Kasukuwere’s plans to give urban stands to youths.
Tsenengamu also suggested that by seeking to mobilise one million youths “in a country of over 13 million” the Zanu PF youth league was admitting that it had failed to mobilise enough support for Mugabe.
“Interestingly, Zimbabwe has got no less than 13 million people and my leadership sees it fit to showcase support for the leader through these one million marchers. Where are the other 12 million people?” he asked derisively.
“It is estimated that youths constitute around 60 percent of the population and so out of about seven million of the 13 million people my leaders are saying the youth league of Zanu PF has just a million people. Is that not failure?” Tsenengamu added.