SENIOR STAFF WRITER
WAR veterans say talk of a rift between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, ahead of Zanu PF’s district co-ordinating committee (DCC) elections and the national 2023 polls is unfounded.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the former liberation fighters also said Chiwenga was solidly behind Mnangagwa as the ruling party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 polls.This comes amid reports that the demons of factionalism that gutted Zanu PF during the last few years in power of the late former president Robert Mugabe had returned to the party with a vengeance.
It has also been reported that there were fights over the DCC elections, allegedly pitting party factions backing Mnangagwa and Chiwenga.
But Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary-general and Zanu PF political commissar, Victor Matemadanda, rubbished the claims yesterday, saying Chiwenga was at the forefront of endorsing Mnangagwa for a second term.
“Our party constitution provides that the president elected by congress automatically becomes the party’s candidate.
“Even if that was not the case, President Mnangagwa’s term of office allows him to stand in 2023. So, that makes him the sole party candidate,” he said.
“In any event, party wings, including some affiliate organisations of the party, have already endorsed him as the candidate … that also includes vice president Chiwenga.
“If you remember in Esigodini, he (Chiwenga) said the party is not going to disturb his (ED’s) second term. So, that is what the party membership agreed,” Matemadanda added.
Speaking in December 2018, at the Zanu PF annual conference in Esigodini, Chiwenga pledged his total support for Mnangagwa.
Then, he chanted the conference slogan, “2023 ED Pfee” when he introduced Mnangagwa to party supporters.
“On behalf of all delegates who have come from the four corners of the country, I want to thank you … I also want it heard here and far; from now until 2023, when the next elections fall due, that you are our one and only presidential candidate.
“In that plebiscite, our national constitution allows you two full terms which you shall have so that the party Zanu PF continues to draw from your wise, compassionate leadership.
“We will not wait for 2023. We start now to prepare for your victory which we know is sure to come,” Chiwenga said.
Matemadanda, who is also the deputy Defence minister, told the Daily News yesterday that when Chiwenga endorsed Mnangagwa’s 2023 candidature, he was doing so on behalf of Zanu PF.
“When the vice president said that he was speaking on behalf of the party, he was pronouncing the consensus of the party.
“In our history, there is no time we were given a vision as clear as vision 2030. So, everyone in Zanu PF would like to see the president fulfilling his constitutional mandate to realise this vision,” he said.
“The general feeling in the party is that he is the only one who can push this vision ably supported by his two deputies and the party structures.
“Every programme that the party has embarked on is meant to endear the party’s candidate. We are concentrating on fulfilling the election promises the president and the party made.
“The question of who the war veterans and the party campaign for is not one that is bothering us at the moment.
“The restructuring exercises are meant to strengthen and unite the party. There is no room for factionalism. We want to reinvigorate the party,” Matemadanda said.
“What would probably worry us is if we were to find someone campaigning with an interest in being a future MP because constituencies still have to be demarcated.
“We only have one candidate with a national constituency. So, all wings of the party are continuously campaigning for the president,” he said further.
In June 2019, while speaking during a programme on Capital Radio, Mnangagwa said his wish was for him to be the last of his generation to lead the country, suggesting that Chiwenga would not succeed him.
“I enjoyed another one (member of the opposition) who said (Mr) president you are too democratic; you must be firing some of the ministers.
“Although I enjoyed it, I do not think some of the ministers enjoyed that one. But as it were, it is important because it shows free speech, people exercising their views,” he said, before landing a sucker punch on the old guard in Zanu PF who could be eyeing his position.
“And one colleague, one leader of a political party said ‘I think it is necessary that we change the age of presidents. We must make sure presidents go beyond 80’.
“I said I disagree with you. Then I said to him after me I would wish that this country finds a president who is young. We mustn’t repeat having people of my age. I think we need younger people to lead this country,” Mnangagwa said then.
The establishment of a war veterans’ league as an internal organ of Zanu PF was one of the resolutions that were made at the party’s December 2019 annual conference.
The wing is widely seen as crucial in the ruling party’s problematic succession matrix.
The ex-combatants were Mugabe’s pillar of strength, leading his campaigns in successive elections from 1980 until June 2016 when they dumped him in support of Mnangagwa.
Matemadanda’s sentiments come at a time Zanu PF’s deadly tribal and factional demons of yesteryear are once again wreaking havoc over the pending DCC polls that were banned during Mugabe’s last few years in power.
The DCC structures elect Zanu PF’s 10 provincial executives — from where the party and Mnangagwa draw members of the central committee and politburo.
Addressing a Zanu PF politburo meeting in Harare last week — an angry Mnangagwa said he had had enough of his lieutenants’ infighting and other untoward actions.
This came after former Cabinet minister and Zanu PF stalwart, Tshinga Dube, had also warned that the ugly factionalism and succession wars plaguing the ruling party were derailing Mnangagwa’s efforts to resolve the country’s decades-long political and economic challenges.
It also came as the ruling party’s recently held Harare provincial primary elections had their results withheld, amid a slew of allegations ranging from ballot cheating to bribery.
“As DCC campaigns are under way, members must continue to conduct themselves in an orderly manner. Irregularities reported must be fairly and impartially addressed, as guided by our party’s constitution.
“Equally, uncouth behaviour such as the imposition of candidates, vote buying and other electoral malpractices which divide the party are not acceptable.
“I must reiterate that the quality of the candidates should correspond to the DCCs we all envision, as directed by the party’s people annual conference of 2018,” Mnangagwa thundered.
“The DCC structures boost our party constitutionalism, internal democracy, and grassroots mobilisation. Our party constitution, rules, regulations, values and traditions must always be our cardinal political and moral compass.
“I reiterate that … the party constitution obligates members, inter alia, to be loyal, patriotic and dispense themselves honourably in their dealings with the party and must never soil its name,” Mnangagwa added.
He also warned that Zanu PF needed to remain wary of the threats posed by the party’s vanquished Generation 40 (G40) faction and other detractors.
“As such, the overwhelming response by the prospective candidates shows that we are indeed a people’s party. As DCC campaigns are underway, members must continue to conduct themselves in an orderly manner.
“As exponents of our party and its ideology, we must be alive to the clandestine machinations of detractors, the G40 cabal and their sympathisers.
“The consortium is using social media, among other means, to launch an onslaught on our country and the party.
“These perennial nay-sayers must be doomed to the political abyss once and for all, and they must never be allowed to succeed,” the 78-year-old Zanu PF leader said further.