HARARE – It certainly does not rain but pours for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa after it was learnt last night that the embattled Midlands godfather’s party foes were initiating a petition within the warring post-congress Zanu PF to oust him from both his party and government positions.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News, which has consistently and accurately written about the ugly goings-on in the ruling party over the past five years, that so fed-up with him and his allies were Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF detractors that they had resolved that now was the time to move in for the kill.
“Successionists (Zanu PF code for Mnangagwa faction) have caused enough damage in the party as seen in the Midlands fiasco of the past few weeks. The party cannot be allowed to crumble because of the misplaced ambitions of one man and his suicide bombers.
“Because of this, comrades have resolved to campaign vigorously for a petition in all the party’s provinces calling for the ouster of Ngwena (Mnangagwa), as a way of ending the terrible fights and unnecessary confusion engulfing the party. We are now sick of it all,” a party official linked to the Generation 40 (G40) who are opposed to the VP, and who see him as “unelectable”, said.
Another reliable party source said those opposed to Mnangagwa were planning to mobilise at least 60 000 signatures from each of the country’s 10 provinces, as the raging Zanu PF war to succeed an increasingly-frail President Robert Mugabe escalates.
“Among some of the charges that Mnangagwa will face are the fact that he is dividing the party and also always abuses his powers each time he is left as the acting president,” the central committee member claimed, adding that it was also “revealing” that the VP had not disassociated himself from his supporters who publicly posed for pictures at the weekend wearing T-shirts labelled “Team Lacoste”.
“This was an open act of defiance against the president’s repeated calls for an end to the factionalism eating the party. Team Lacoste is in effect much, much worse than the cabal that was linked to former Vice President Joice Mujuru,” he said.
The G40 — who allegedly include Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Mugabe’s nephew and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao, and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo among others — are said to enjoy the backing of Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and influential First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Others who strongly support the first lady in the deadly succession wars are businessman Philip Chiyangwa, Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira, Harare South MP Shadreck Mashayamombe and Zanu PF heavyweights, Sandi Moyo and Sarah Mahoka.
At the same time, the fate of Mnangagwa’s alleged close allies — who are under the cosh in his Midlands heartland — now firmly lies in the hands of his co-deputy and high-office competitor Mphoko, who heads the ruling party’s national disciplinary committee (NDC).
In a move that puts paid to the premature celebrations of the past few days by Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction), following the acquittal at the weekend of the VP’s alleged allies on a litany of serious charges by a regional disciplinary committee, the three ministers at the heart of the saga have now moved to formally appeal for Mphoko’s intervention.
This latest body blow on Team Lacoste comes after Zanu PF national political commissar Kasukuwere also confirmed to the Daily News on Monday that the party officials who are under the gun in the Midlands were not off the hook — adding emphatically that only the NDC, and not the regional disciplinary committee, could finalise their matter.
At the heart of the Midlands crisis, linked to the ruling party’s escalating succession wars, are claims by ministers Makhosini Hlongwane, Tapiwa Matangaidze and Annastancia Ndhlovu that they have been the victims of harassment by Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena, his Gokwe-Kana counterpart Owen Ncube and Midlands youth league secretary Edmore Samambwa.
But in a hotly-disputed verdict, the regional disciplinary committee, which was tasked by Kasukuwere to look into the ministers’ complaints — and which now stands accused of having been led by alleged allies of Mnangagwa, and of reaching “a decidedly factional” verdict — concluded that the ministers had failed to substantiate their claims.
Not only did the ministers savage the verdict as “shamelessly partisan” on Monday, they have now written to Mphoko asking him to intervene and raising what they said were their “serious reservations” about the process followed by the Midlands disciplinary committee.
In their letter, the ministers argued that while the Midlands provincial executive had discussed and agreed to set up a disciplinary committee chaired by Zvishavane Ngezi MP John Holder regarding their complaints, the one that had been chaired by Mackenzie Ncube had been set up instead, allegedly at the behest of Zanu PF deputy secretary for administration July Moyo — allegedly to influence the outcome of the matter.
“That disciplinary committee (chaired by Holder) has not been disbanded by the provincial executive committee and true to the predictable culture of impunity and disregard of party processes and bullying of the executive, another committee was set up on January 8, 2016.
“Further, the fact that the decision of the first disciplinary committee was ignored in favour of setting up another one means that the disciplinary process is subject to manipulation and undue influence by external forces to itself,” the trio charged in their letter.
They also claimed that party protocol had been breached in the process of setting up the second disciplinary committee, further arguing that Mackenzie Ncube as a central committee member from Kwekwe was never going to hand down a fair hearing “given the well-documented relationship of all but one of the accused as they share the same neighbourhood in Kwekwe”.
“Thirdly, Cde Mackenzie Ncube, once appointed the vice chairman of the provincial executive committee, went on to preside over the preliminary stages of the disciplinary hearing, this notwithstanding the fact that he had not formally withdrawn his membership of the central committee, thereby creating a situation where a central committee member was presiding over provincial disciplinary processes,” they added.
In their Monday statement, the ministers — initially seen as Mnangagwa’s allies but now perceived to be aligned to the G40 — described the Midlands disciplinary committee as “shamelessly partisan”.
“If the committee has concluded the hearings, can it tell the nation, instead of engaging in cheap propaganda, where it carried out its investigations? Did it go to Mberengwa, Mataga for example?
“Did they talk to witnesses who were in Victoria Falls during the pre-budget meeting for example? Did they speak to minister A Ndhlovu? In short, did they conduct an inquiry to establish the facts and where did they do so?” they charged.
A Zanu PF politburo member who claims that he is “non-aligned” in the ruling party’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars said it appeared that Mnangagwa was beginning to “run out of both rope and oxygen”.
“Like Mai Mujuru before him, there is an impression that he is beginning to run out of both rope and oxygen in the party, unless the president rescues him like now.
“Remember that the women’s league quota system demands within the presidium are also still hanging around his neck like the proverbial sword of Damocles,” the senior party official said.