HARARE – It never rains but pours for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Hardly a day after President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, blasted the 74-year-old politician for allegedly fomenting divisions in Zanu PF, the first lady fired another salvo yesterday.
In her address to thousands of apostolic church members in Harare, Grace took her tirade against the embattled vice president a step further, describing him as “a snake” whose head must be crushed.
She implored on Zanu PF supporters to “finish off” the vice president, claiming he has harboured ambitions to grab power from Mugabe from as far back as 1980.
“When I realised that there are others who are obsessed with expelling others I complained saying, no, we must deal with the root cause; we must deal with a snake by crushing its head.
“Kana munhu anetsa batai munhu, tsonda musoro (if someone is becoming a nuisance, manhandle him/her and crushing the head),” said Grace, taking a line from popular sungura musician, Suluman Chimbetu’s song, Sean Timba.
The song, which topped the music charts in 2012, was part of Chimbetu’s hugely popular album, Syllabus. Sean Timba was criticised for promoting violence and revenge as a way of solving conflict.
Grace said Mnangagwa deserved harsh censure because he was fighting to unseat a president ordained by God.
“If you are a man who fights those that are anointed by God, you are as good as dead. You are a dead man walking. You are finished. You might still be walking but you are dead. You may have eyes but you don’t see. You may have ears but you can’t hear,” said the first lady.
She claimed to be privy to details about Mnangagwa’s attempt to forcibly take over power from Mugabe during the transition to independence in 1980.
Describing Mnangagwa as a “liquidator” and “ravisher”, Grace said the Midlands godfather was “dangerously envious” of Mugabe.
“Makhosini (Hlongwane), that man is a liquidator, ravisher; he is dangerous that person and you can see his envious look at the president. He is so jealousy that he can even kill someone,” she said.
Hlongwane is the minister of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture.
The increasingly powerful Zanu PF women’s league secretary revealed that after the 1980 elections, Mnangagwa misled Mugabe into believing that the Ian Smith government wanted to eliminate him.
He is alleged to have advised Mugabe to skip the country into neighbouring Mozambique, ostensibly to give himself time to stage a palace coup.
“Since 1980, there are a lot of things that happened that we know and you ought to know as Zimbabweans. In 1980, this person called Mnangagwa wanted to stage a coup to grab power,” she claimed.
“I am telling you what I know. I am in a privileged position. I know a lot of information. He actually wanted to wrest power from the president.
“Let me tell you (that) after the 1980 elections, he told the president that ‘there were whites who wanted to kill you so you and (Maurice) Nyagumbo and (Enos) Nkala should skip the country immediately to Mozambique.
“When the president told Samora Machel upon arrival he was ordered back but when he called Mnangagwa to tell him that he wanted to come back, Mnangagwa told him not to return because he wanted to stage a coup. So this person has always wanted to take over power through illegal means,” said the first lady.
She said when she heard about the Team Lacoste and Generation 40 factions, she failed to get any information about the latter.
She said she was, however, able to gather that Mnangagwa was the one associated with the name Lacoste and went on to confront him in politburo meetings, asking him why he was letting this demon of factionalism confuse him.
“After the Mashonaland Central interface rally, Mnangagwa approached the president complaining about my remarks on him about factionalism but the president told him that I am a truthful person.
“Mnangagwa could not defend himself, he did not say a thing, and he is a coward that man”.
Grace also accused Mnangagwa of dancing while pointing to himself when Jah Prayzah’s song, Mudhara vachauya was played, saying “he thinks we do not have eyes.”
She said his behaviour caused Mugabe to warn him on Saturday that he risked being fired as soon as tomorrow.
Mnangagwa was also accused by Grace of hijacking “her” Command Agriculture programme, saying he was claiming credit for her initiative.
“I came up with the idea of giving people farming inputs under the programme that you have heard being called by a silly name, Command Agriculture.
“I am the one who came up with the idea and it was hijacked by others whom we know have never done anything fruitful.
“It was the president who first realised that Mnangagwa was claiming credit for the programme and sought to clarify at one of the interface rallies that it was actually my initiative.
“Journalists are paid not to write about my achievements because they say it will raise my profile; they are afraid of me, all the big men you see, they are afraid”.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since the advent of majority rule in 1980, has been avoiding directly attacking his aide of more than 50 years in the wake of serious infighting in his party over his succession.
But on Saturday he cast aside diplomacy before a capacity crowd at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, telling his audience how Mnangagwa has become a destabilising factor in Zanu PF.