HARARE – As Zanu PF's “Cupgate” saga, and its deadly tribal, factional and succession wars continue to rage, scores of the ruling party's officials drawn from the country’s 10 provinces gathered in Harare yesterday to demand a probe into Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources who spoke to the Daily News last night also suggested that the troubled ruling party's tortured politics were "changing" again, with Mnangagwa and his party backers (Team Lacoste) now the ones on the back foot and under serious pressure.
"It's a ding dong affair my friend. Until now it was the G40 (Generation 40 faction) which was on the verge of implosion, but now things look very ominous for Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction)," a senior party official who has consistently claimed to be "non-aligned" said.
Yesterday's dramatic events also come as Mnangagwa has been under the cosh in recent days for hosting sacked Zanu PF officials at his rural home during the festive season, with his party foes alleging that this was in fact a meeting organised to plot the ouster of President Robert Mugabe from power.
The G40-linked group which met at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare yesterday subsequently issued a statement in which they called for a probe into Mnangagwa for hobnobbing with war veterans’ leader Christopher Mutsvangwa and maverick Harare businessman, Energy Mutodi.
Apart from provincial chairpersons and regional commissars, the meeting was also attended by representatives of the youths, the women’s league and sections of the war veterans corps.
They also called for a meeting with Mugabe, so that they could register their complaints against Mnangagwa and Team Lacoste with the nonagenarian directly.
It was not clear last night whether Mugabe would accede to this demand, and whether he knew about the meeting beforehand.
“As provincial chairpersons and political commissars, we notice with concern the practice by some of our senior party leaders who are now and again, seen in the company of elements of people who were expelled from Zanu PF for gross indiscipline.
“This kind of behaviour puts doubts on those leaders’ commitment and loyalty to decisions that are made by Zanu PF collectively, as party leaders should not be seen to be associating and entertaining people who were expelled from the party for indiscipline which involved disrespect of the party leadership,” the group said in its statement.
Since the images of Mnangagwa holding the much-obsessed about coffee mug emerged in the public domain, the VP’s foes have gone to town about the issue, interpreting it as his open statement that he has unbridled presidential ambitions.
There were also questions surrounding Mutodi’s presence at the party, even as the controversial businessman has said that he went to the function without receiving any invitation like the other guests.
But the highly-opinionated musician-turned-politician appeared to make things worse for Mnangagwa when he said this week Zanu PF should hold an extra-ordinary congress to install Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s successor.
Mutodi also claimed that Mugabe, who turns 93 next month, had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that “99 percent” of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way that the nonagenarian could win elections against popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Mugabe must retire. What we must be discussing now is how we share power in Zanu PF post-Mugabe,” he said, adding that it will be very embarrassing for Mugabe if he stood for election again and lost.
“Mnangagwa is too loyal to Mugabe, to the extent that he cannot even express his own views for his boss to retire. It’s up to Mugabe himself to be really thankful to his loyalists who have helped him to remain in power for this long and not the opportunists who praise him during the day and denigrate him during the night.
“This is what the man (Mnangagwa) is made of and he has shown total loyalty and obedience to the president,” Mutodi told the Daily News.
Zanu PF insiders have consistently told the Daily News that underlying the former liberation movement’s deadly and seemingly unstoppable tribal and factional wars is its unresolved succession question, with the G40 faction apparently doing everything possible to torpedo Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential ambitions.
The group which met at the Zanu PF Headquarters yesterday also claimed that Mutodi was no longer a Zanu PF member as he had allegedly been sacked from the party.
However, Mutodi maintains on his part that he is still a member of the ruling party’s Mashonaland East provincial executive.
Apart from Mutodi, Mnangagwa’s rivals were miffed by the presence of Mutsvangwa and expelled former Mashonaland West provincial chairman Temba Mliswa at the burial of the late national hero Peter Chanetsa last week, at the National Heroes Acre.
Although the occasion was a State and not a Zanu PF function, which meant that any citizen who wished to do so could attend the burial, the surprise presence of Mutsvangwa and Mliswa in the VIP tent in particular expectably set tongues wagging among the gathered ruling party supporters.
This was more so as since the former liberation movement’s divisive 2014 congress, the warring ruling party had routinely chased away from its gatherings its suspended former stalwarts, including its ex-national political commissar and former Information minister, Webster Shamu, who was recently re-admitted into the party.
In addition, Mutsvangwa and his executive had since their expulsion from Zanu PF been boycotting State functions, including last year’s Heroes’ Day celebrations.
The disgruntled former freedom fighters have also since stepped up their efforts to force Mugabe to step down, accusing the increasingly frail nonagenarian of being at the centre of the country’s current rot.
And like Mutodi and Mutsvangwa, Mliswa has also recently suggested that Mugabe should hand over power to Mnangagwa.
“Zanu PF’s solution to the economic problem is for the president to step down and Mnangagwa, who is the most senior, to take over.
“Don’t call me a Mnangagwa person, unless there is someone more senior in Zanu PF than Mnangagwa, then you tell me.
“If Mnangagwa does take over, he is going to stop the bleeding in terms of people suffering. We must be cognisant that the people are suffering,” Mliswa told journalists at the end of last year.