HARARE – Discredited musician-cum-politician, Energy Mutodi — a self-confessed follower of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa — has spewed another cocktail of controversial New Year wishes and bizarre conspiracy theories that could put the acting president under further pressure from Zanu PF hardliners.
Writing on his Facebook page at the weekend, the fraud-accused businessman and prominent Zanu PF member, sensationally claimed that the under-fire Mnangagwa would succeed President Robert Mugabe in March this year — without explaining how this was supposed to happen.
He also claimed that quarrelsome First Lady Grace Mugabe would become VP when Mnangagwa succeeds Mugabe.
In addition, Mutodi alleged that ex-VP Joice Mujuru’s allies were behind a plan to poison the 90-year-old leader, in a bid to force a Zanu PF extra-ordinary congress that would see the former Zanu PF number two bouncing back from the political wilderness.
The post, which had already raised a lot of social media chatter yesterday, could escalate the brutal and ongoing factional as well as succession wars within Zanu PF.
The Daily News reported last week that among Mnangagwa’s new rabid critics were erstwhile colleagues who played a critical role in decimating Mujuru and her perceived sympathisers, a development that paved the way for his Phoenix-like rise from the political ashes to the presidium.
The sources said Mnangagwa’s former supporters were not just “peeved by his meteoric rise to the VP position” while they had to “make-do with scraps”, they were also upset that he had seemingly forgotten them and was allegedly acting as if he was now “the substantive head of State” while Mugabe was on holiday in the Far East.
As a result, some within the former anti-Mujuru grouping — particularly the so-called “Gang of Four” — now wanted the tail of the party strongman cut forthwith.
The sources also claimed that it had not helped that the much-feared vice president had recently hosted parties and business persons in his home province, the Midlands, where some of the disaffected hardliners had not been invited to.
Worse still, some of Mnangagwa’s most fervent followers, such as Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe, had made the fatal mistake of praising him overzealously at these gatherings — at worst a silly faux pas that the hardliners had expediently latched on to, in their quest to cut the vice president down to size.
“There are some within the victorious camp who feel that Mnangagwa in the first place did not deserve to be vice president after doing virtually nothing during the Mujuru demolition job where First Lady Grace Mugabe was used to turn President Mugabe against Amai Mujuru,” a well-placed source told the Daily News.
He said in particular the so-called “Gang of Four”— comprising senior party bigwigs Oppah Muchinguri, Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Savior Kasukuwere — was allegedly working to undermine the VP and to “expose him as a power-hungry individual who is not fit to take over from Mugabe”.
This, the source added, supposedly explained why Mnangagwa, just like what had happened to Mujuru, was coming under vicious attack in the lickspittle State media — “to discredit him as much as possible”.
Former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has also warned that the faction that helped push out Mujuru was allegedly in the process of staging a coup against Mugabe himself.
In his weekend Facebook post, Mutodi also continued with his attacks on Mujuru and her perceived allies, notably Ray Kaukonde, whom he apparently wants to replace as substantive Mashonaland East provincial chairman.
Although he, on one hand, alleged that the former provincial governor was firmly behind the vile plan to eliminate Mugabe, he also claimed that the motoring tycoon would be outmanoeuvred by Mnangagwa as the VP was set to take over from Mugabe before his plan matured.
“According to their plans, Kaukonde wants to first save his MPs from expulsion and then secure peace talks between First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe and Dr Joice Mujuru.
“His aim is to achieve an extra-ordinary congress that will install former Vice President Mujuru as the people’s choice in the 2018 elections.
“Kaukonde also knows that he is running out of time as reports indicate that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa may be installed President of the Republic by March this year with First Lady Grace Mugabe taking over his seat as Vice President, a development that will finally seal the Mujuru faction demise,” Mutodi wrote on his page.
When the Daily News contacted him yesterday, Mutodi said there was no need for him to amplify what he had put on his Facebook page.
“Ukaona chinhu, handiti unongotora sezvachiri (When you see something, you take it as it is),”Mutodi said.
He went on to ask why the Daily News had sought his further comment when what he had said was “in black and white”.
While refusing to comment specifically on Mutodi’s controversial utterances, Mugabe’s nephew Zhuwao was however quick to point out yesterday that discussions around the succession issue were “misguided and misdirected”.
“They (issues to do with the presidency and succession) are narratives that derail our focus which the majority of Zimbabweans voted for,” Zhuwao told the Daily News.
He said Mugabe was only voted into office in July 2013, and had been given another mandate to stand as Zanu PF presidential candidate for 2018 — making the succession debate “mischievous”.
Zhuwao also said that the articles that he had written in State media related to constitutional provisions and not the succession issue.
In one of his articles, Zhuwao described the mentioning of Mnangagwa as the first vice president’ and Crown Prince, as “mischievous”.
And during the same week that Zhuwao wrote that opinion, Moyo weighed in the debate and said that there were people who were bent on confusing Mnangagwa’s appointment with an anointment as Mugabe’s successor — adding that both the constitutions of Zanu PF and Zimbabwe did not provide for the anointment of a successor.
These views ventilated the growing speculation that both men were not in favour of Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
But political analyst and respected University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure described Mutodi’s sentiments yesterday as mere “wishful thinking”.
He said there were no signs that Mugabe would retire or resign from his position anytime soon.
“All things being equal, I don’t see that (Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe in March) happening because the president said he would only leave office only if he loses his sanity.
“I don’t think we are anywhere near that scenario,” Masunungure said.
He said this was also moreso given that Mugabe was set to take-over as the leader of the African Union at the end of this month, adding that he would not want to resign from his position after only serving two months as a continental leader.Dailynews