HARARE – War veterans and Zanu PF youths linked to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa clobbered their rival Generation 40 (G40) foes in Masvingo at the weekend, as the governing party wars to succeed President Robert Mugabe turn increasingly violent.
Zanu PF chairperson for Masvingo Amasi Nenjana told the Daily News yesterday that about 15 war veterans, working in cahoots with party youths who allegedly included Paul Zimaro of Masvingo Urban, attacked and seriously injured provincial youth chairperson Norbert Ngaarongwe, as well as secretary for legal affairs, Henry Chinovava.
Nenjana said Ngaarongwe and Chinovava were accused of “selling out the province to the G40” and refusing to back Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.
“There were about 15 war veterans who were involved in the attack. We had to call them as a provincial executive to try and hear their story.
“We were also clear to them that we do not tolerate this language of saying we are not backing the vice president because to us he (Mnangagwa) was appointed by the president after we had resolved as a province that … Mugabe remains our leader and candidate in the 2018 elections.
“Therefore, the question of us not supporting the vice president does not arise whatsoever,” Nenjana said.
He added that there was also no reason to back Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe “because when the time comes for someone to take over the reins of power the party will hold a congress where anyone, even me, can emerge the leader”.
Contacted for comment yesterday, spokesperson of the main faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, would neither deny nor confirm the attacks, saying his association had not received any information to that effect.
“I suppose that took place during the weekend. That information has not yet been communicated to the national executive,” he said.
Ngaarongwe told the Daily News that the situation in the politically volatile province was currently “very tense as Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa camp) is agitated following what the president said in Gutu last Friday”.
“They (VP’s allies) were dismissing what the president said at the rally as hogwash and when I told them that it was not good for them to start criticising the president when they had clapped their hands when he spoke, they got very angry with me.
“They also maintained that they would not respect the president and the First Lady if the president maintained his stance.
“When I told them that they were going rogue by saying that, they then started assaulting me with clenched fists and booted feet, saying I was too junior to give them political lessons.
“The same thing happened to Chinovava. He also told them the same thing and the war vets, with the help of some district chairpersons, attacked him after our Saturday meeting at Chimwemwe,” Ngaarongwe said.
Zanu PF officials in the province who were canvassed for comment expressed grave fear that the situation could turn even bloodier, with some of them claiming that Lacoste “war veterans are on the rampage”.
“Relations in the province are far from cordial and they have not been in a long time. The speech by the president (last Friday) angered Ngwena’s (Mnangagwa’s) allies, especially war veterans who have since been harassing almost everyone they perceive to be G40, including senior party officials.
“They are targeting party youths in particular, who they are threatening with violence,” a provincial executive committee member seen as close to the G40 said.
Another official confirmed that tensions had been rising ahead of Mugabe’s Friday address at Chamisa Primary School in Gutu, and this had worsened after Mnangagwa’s supporters were barred from taking charge of the rally by Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
The situation was apparently made worse by Mugabe after the nonagenarian made it clear that it was now time for party stalwarts to hand the leadership baton to youths — a message that left Team Lacoste seething with anger as they interpreted it to mean that the nonagenarian was once again backing the G40.
The latest violence in Masvingo also came at a time that anti-riot police were called in after chaos also broke out in Gweru during the party’s youth league inter-district meeting on Saturday, when rival factional camps clashed as they sought to eject each other from the tense party get-together.