HARARE – As the ugly factional and succession wars devouring President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF worsen, it has emerged that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has beefed up his security ahead of the party’s crucial annual conference to be held in Victoria Falls next month.
This comes as the VP’s party enemies, mainly those linked to its ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40), are ratcheting up their attacks and schemes against the Midlands godfather.
At the same time, Mnangagwa’s allies are also said to be working hard to nudge President Robert Mugabe, who looks increasingly frail, to announce both his retirement timetable, as well as his successor at the December gathering.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa, who is now popularly referred to as Lacoste by his supporters, had upped his security arrangements amid fears of “more attempts on the VP’s life”, as had allegedly happened on a number of occasions since he was appointed Mugabe’s co-deputy late last year.
“The man no longer trusts anybody because of the cyanide that was sprinkled in his office in an apparent attempt to poison him just after he became VP, as well as the subsequent motor vehicle accident that he was involved in which still linger in his mind. You should also remember that the man has always been not so trusting of anyone and his new high position makes it even worse,” one of the sources said.
State Security minister Kembo Mohadi would neither confirm nor deny the development when the Daily News approached him yesterday, saying issues of State security were not for public consumption.
“We do not discuss what we do in the area of security with the media. That is why it is called security. Where have you heard that such issues can be discussed with the media? It doesn’t happen,” Mohadi said.
Reports over the past few months have said Mnangagwa has discarded several close security aides and senior security aides from the Central Intelligence Organisation, preferring to have his own people.
“While his wish to have his hand in picking the personnel that guards him was granted, he still thinks he needs to expand his security especially following the attempt on the life of one senior security officer who had to be rushed to South Africa for treatment about one-and-a-half months ago.
“The VP wants the security expanded particularly ahead of the December conference because he is looking forward to having the unresolved succession issues discussed and it could turn violent there,” another insider said.
Zanu PF is notorious for using State security agents, both in their internal power struggles and against the opposition — a situation that has bred a culture of paranoia among Zimbabweans across the political divide.
Only recently, Mashonaland Central provincial minister, Martin Dinha, received a bullet parcel with a chilling message from suspected political rivals within the ruling party.
In the run-up to the disputed 2013 elections, Dinha also allegedly received death threats that forced him to withdraw from the party’s primary elections for Bindura South constituency.