HARARE – Conspiracy theories are flying thick and fast within the Zanu PF faction rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa after a number of party stalwarts associated with the camp perished in motor vehicle accidents over the weekend.
A senior Zanu PF official linked to Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction), while careful not to ventilate emotions and point fingers at anyone, told the Daily News yesterday that they were “very concerned that comrades are dying in this manner”.
“Yes, people are talking (about the motor vehicle deaths). But as you will also remember, there is always talk in our country each time politicians and other prominent Zimbabweans die, more so in car accidents.
“It has not helped matters that we have lost three valued comrades in two car accidents over one weekend, at a time that the party (Zanu PF) is facing many challenges. It makes it difficult for people to understand and accept this, hence the speculation,” the official said.
First to die in a road accident involving three cars in Kadoma on Friday was former women’s league secretary for administration, Espinah Nhari — with party sources claiming that she had been dealing with “significant trauma” in the days leading to the tragedy, as a result of her political ostracisation in Zanu PF.
Nhari was suspended from the warring governing party early this year after she decampaigned Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks, the Generation 40 group — which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe — saying “Pasi neG40 (Down with G40) at a rally in Masvingo.
And to compound the pain and fear currently pervading the Mnangagwa camp, two war veterans aligned to the faction died in a separate vehicle accident at the weekend, on their return from a meeting in Gwanda where they were campaigning for the beleaguered VP.
Mnangagwa’s allies have been on a whirlwind tour of the country’s provinces to drum up support for him, as Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars continue to escalate.
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the accident that claimed the lives of the two former freedom fighters, saying their vehicle had been involved in a head-on collision at the 184-kilometre peg along the Mbalabala-Zvishavane road.
“13 people were injured and taken to Filabusi Hospital for treatment. The names of the deceased will be released once their relatives have been notified,” Nyathi said.
The spokesperson of the main faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), which is aligned to Mnangagwa, Douglas Mahiya, said he would only shed more light into the deaths of the ex-combatants later.
The faction’s secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda, said he was on his way to the accident scene from Gokwe, and would also only be able to get more information when he gets there.
In the meantime, Mnangagwa himself went to pay his condolences for Nhira on Saturday.