HARARE – Political opponents of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa within President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF are said to be sharpening their knives against him and his allies — amid claims that “an elaborate and devious scheme” is being unrolled in a desperate bid to derail his presidential aspirations.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that the under fire VP’s Zanu PF enemies were “working flat out to decapitate him and all his supporters” in the manner in which former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies had been annihilated late last year after being accused of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe.
The sources spoke in the wake of the weekend expose by the Daily News’ sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday, which reported that Mugabe’s increasingly influential wife Grace was dreaming anew about succeeding her nonagenarian husband, with the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks, the Generation 40 (G40) group, apparently playing a “sneaky role” in the plot to thwart Mnangagwa’s leadership dreams.
“That story (in the Daily News on Sunday) was probably an understatement of the year. Ngwena’s (Mnangagwa’s) enemies have hatched an elaborate and devious scheme against him and all his supporters.
“They are working flat out to decapitate him and all his supporters like they did to Mai Mujuru and her allies. They sense that the time is opportune to do this, and that it is now or never,” one of the sources said.
Since Mujuru’s brutal ouster from power late last year following Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress, Mnangagwa has been tipped to be the most likely successor to Mugabe, even as other senior party officials have publicly pooh-poohed this.
Another source alleged that the reported alliance against Mnangagwa between Grace and the G40 “hyenas” had resulted in the VP’s camp being “taken on and matched pound for pound across the country” — with Mnangagwa’s allies generally coming out worse off wherever these confrontations were taking place.
“Ngwena’s boys are getting a heavy battering,” he claimed — citing an incident last week in Epworth where one of Graces’ alleged protégés, Zaleeh Makari, thumped a candidate who was said to be aligned to the Mnangagwa camp, Kudakwashe Damson, in a battle to represent the crisis-torn ruling party in the constituency.
Makari, apparently completely unknown in the constituency, but campaigning “on the coat-tails of Dr Amai (Grace)”, beat all odds to emerge victorious—- in a development that was seen as a massive blow to the Mnangagwa camp.
The vice president also suffered significant embarrassment in Mutare at the weekend, where he addressed a puny crowd at the launch of the youth games that are being held there — as the divided ruling party failed to mobilise enough supporters to attend the function.
But Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF enemies twisted things around and alleged that this betrayed the fact that the VP was an “unpopular and unelectable” leader.
“The plan is to weaken the power base that Mnangagwa has been quietly building since he was appointed vice president. He knew from the beginning that getting rid of Mujuru from the succession matrix was only half the job.
“He realised the need for support in the party then and has been working on that, but it looks like they (his enemies) have devised a counter-strategy. They are now using the party’s restructuring exercise to nail him and his allies,” a central committee member told the Daily News yesterday.
He added that the strategy also involved publicly-humiliating pro-Mnangagwa party officials by youths aligned to the G40 and national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere — with Zanu PF deputy secretary for administration July Moyo and self-confident Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena apparently among the prime targets.
Moyo is accused of being the brains behind the Mnangagwa camp, while Wadyajena is seen as having been
deployed to “sniff out dirt” on prominent G40 members in government.
Another insider claimed that Grace was “deliberately throwing calculated punches” at Mnangagwa, who is nicknamed Ngwena for his alleged ruthlessness and famed patience.
Speaking in Binga last week, the First Lady savaged ruling party bigwigs who were angling to succeed her husband, warning that the nonagenarian’s embattled deputies, who often acted in his place when he was away, were not guaranteed to succeed him.
“Acting as president … does not mean one is an heir apparent. This is what destroyed Mai Mujuru. Do not be caught offside. Tamba nevamwe zvakanaka (interact well with each other),” Grace thundered in remarks that were widely interpreted as aimed at Mnangagwa.
“Factionalism yakuda kudzoka but tinoti pasi nayo (factionalism is back in Zanu PF and we say to hell with it). Do not lie to us about what you are capable of. We know you all and what you are capable of. Just ask yourself why God continues giving a 91-year-old (Mugabe) the strength to lead the country. Where have you seen a 91-year-old who can stand for 2 hours?” she added.
Other well-placed sources also told the Daily News yesterday that millions of dollars had been raised to be used in this “dirty plot” — apparently with thousands of T-shirts emblazoned with Grace’s face having been printed and being dished out to party supporters across the country.
Sources who spoke to the newspaper said “the ever-scheming G40 were encouraging Grace to “continue dreaming big”, adding that her recent rants against unnamed party bigwigs who she accused of fanning factionalism in the warring post-congress Zanu PF indicated that she was “being seduced by the Weevils (ruling party Johnny-come-latelies)” in the alleged plot against Mnangagwa.
“You will have noticed that Dr Amai has recently upped her public profile again, which many people say betrays her ambitions for the highest office in the land. Only last week she was in Binga as you know, doing the kind of work that is ordinarily done by either the president himself or members of his Cabinet.
“You will also have noted that State media have started following her everywhere again, after a period where she was in some political hibernation of some sort. It is also not a coincidence that even the broke ZBC is covering her programmes and business activities live.
“Of course, the G40 is actively encouraging her to continue dreaming big for their own personal ambitions and to thwart Ngwena (Mnangagwa). It is known that they (G40) think that if they thwart Ngwena they will then easily coast to power as they are of the view that Dr Amai is only powerful as long as President Mugabe is in the picture,” one of the sources said-Dailynews