HARARE – A cross-section of opposition parties — among them the National People’s Party (NPP) and the MDC Alliance — are engaged in secret talks with banished members of the Generation 40 (G40) faction as they seek to work on their weaknesses and outsmart a resurgent Zanu PF at the forthcoming polls.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who rose to power last December through a soft military coup, has pledged to hold polls before the end of July.
Mnangagwa, who has earned a place in the sun globally after charting a new trajectory for his country following former president Robert Mugabe’s 37 years of misrule, is upbeat his Zanu PF will extend its rule beyond 38 years.
The Daily News can, however, reveal that the MDC Alliance, which brings together seven opposition political parties, recently met in Bindura during a retreat and concluded that synergies should be built with G40 elements who are either in exile or face an uncertain future in Zanu PF to give Mnangagwa’s party a good run for its money.
And early this week, another meeting took place in Cape Town, South Africa, where G40 officials deliberated on sponsoring independent candidates and also forming partnerships in areas where the MDC Alliance or the NPP hold sway.
The talks are taking place either through emissaries for fear of blowing the cover on those G40 functionaries that are in hiding, or through informal channels — in the case of those Zanu PF members who are on their way out because of their perceived links with Mugabe.
G40 is one of the factions to emerge in Zanu PF since its formation 55 years ago.
The faction emerged late 2014 when former first lady Grace Mugabe engineered the dramatic fall of former vice president Joice Mujuru, along with her cabal collectively known as the Mujuru faction, from Zanu PF and government.
Between 2014 and mid-November 2017, G40 fought a nasty succession battle with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste faction, which abruptly ended after the military swooped on its functionaries under the guise of restoring “Mugabe’s legacy”.
Before the military intervention on November 14, 2017, Team Lacoste had been emasculated, with its front man, Mnangagwa, having skipped the country’s borders into self-imposed exile in South Africa after he was summarily expelled from Zanu PF and government.
He was to bounce back dramatically two weeks later to lead Zanu PF and government, with the help of the army, which pressured Mugabe to resign.
Since their estrangement, the former Zanu PF elites have not been hiding their intention to spoil Mnangagwa’s partying at the polls.
For example, Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao — who is now based in South Africa — has since launched his #2018Resistance saying Mnangagwa rode to power through illegitimate means.
Zhuwao revealed recently that he was “ready to support efforts that seek to restore Zimbabweans’ infringed civil rights, liberties and democracy that has been stolen and plundered by the coup conspirators and terrorising junta”.
According to Zhuwao, anger within Zanu PF is festering.
“The largest component of the #2018Resisitance is from within Zanu PF. These are the people that elected … Mugabe to be the president and first secretary of Zanu PF. These are the voters who delivered 62 percent of the electoral vote to… Mugabe in 2013. These are the people who jealously guard their vote. They are upset that the coup conspirators and terrorising junta stole the mandate that they gave to … Mugabe. They will express their displeasure in the ballot box in 2018,” wrote Zhuwao.
While Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was not picking up his phone yesterday and could not respond to questions sent to him on his mobile phone, NPP’s secretary-general Gift Nyandoro confirmed yesterday working closely with G40 elements to strengthen the opposition party ahead of this year elections.
He said: “Yes, we talk, there are so many people who were in the structures in Zanu PF and have now joined us. I cannot say who but there is certainly contact. In Masvingo alone, we have been joined by more than 300 Zanu PF officials,” said Nyandoro.
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, which is the dominant player in the MDC Alliance also confirmed yesterday that deliberations are going ahead with G40 members but these could not be discussed through the media.
“Coalition deliberations are always extremely private and confidential. Even in the world of business, only an imprudent and silly businessperson negotiates in the public domain,” said MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Welshman Ncube told the Daily News that there was nothing wrong with Zimbabweans from different political backgrounds sharing notes on the way forward.
A constitutional lawyer by profession, Ncube denied any engagements with G40 saying from his understanding of the term, there was nothing called G40, it was just a faction in Zanu PF.
“But still on an individual basis, we can engage and there are individuals who were in Zanu PF we are talking to only as individuals because they are not an organisation. If any of our leader bumps into someone like Zhuwao in South Africa or (Saviour) Kasukuwere in Dubai and that is the basis of concluding that talks are going on, are we not all Zimbabweans,” said Ncube.
Since ousting Mugabe in a military-led intervention dubbed Operation Restore Legacy, Mnangagwa and his allies have been culling the ruling party of all elements that were linked to the G40 faction led by former first lady Grace.
Mnangagwa’s raft of changes have also permeated to government departments including the police and Central Intelligence Organisation where those regarded as sympathetic to the old order are being sidelined, transferred or retired.
To date several former Cabinet ministers, who belonged to the dismantled G40 faction have been brought for trial on corruption charges.