AXED Zanu PF administration secretary Didymus Mutasa last month described vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa as a sly character, gifted in the art of covering his tracks.
“He covers his own footsteps,” said Mutasa in an interview with a local daily last month. “He is very good at that. You will never find Emmerson guilty of anything because he would have covered his footsteps very well.”
And true to form, Mnangagwa moved to absolve himself of blame in the dismissal of vice president Joice Mujuru over unproven allegations she plotted to stage a coup against President Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa claimed, in an interview with the Sunday Mail, that he had no knowledge of the campaign to disgrace and side-line Mujuru until First Lady Grace Mugabe started attacking the vice president during her nationwide rallies.
“Until Amai Mugabe began those rallies, I think everyone was accepting that when we go to congress Mai Mujuru would be confirmed as vice president,” said the man who had long fought Mujuru to be in pole-position to take over from Mugabe.
“We were all taken by storm (over Grace Mugabe allegations) and that was over a period of four, five weeks. The revelations showed that the vice president was not fit to lead the country.”
But former party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said it beggars belief that a man who had fought Mujuru at every turn for more than a decade, eventually benefitting from her ouster would claim that they had nothing to do with the former vice president’s downfall.
“Mnangagwa has been plotting against Mai Mujuru for a long time,” said Gumbo.
“He has been leading a faction for a long time; there can be no pretence that he didn’t know anything about it because they were the ones who were leading the entire campaign against Mai Mujuru.
“So I can’t believe that he didn’t know. He knew … he was plotting, we know he is a schemer, a manipulator. Everything happened before our own eyes and we know he was part of it.”
There is also concern in Mnangagwa’s camp over his habit of smelling the direction of the wind and going with the flow even if it means sacrificing loyal supporters.
Several loyalists found themselves thrown into the political wilderness after Mnangagwa suddenly decided not to attend the 2004 Tsholotsho meeting which Mugabe later described as a coup.
A member of his faction said they were surprised that the vice president was not standing up to Grace Mugabe as she demonstrates she is the second most powerful person in the party and the country after her husband.
“There is now a view that instead of being a cautious and crafty strategist, the vice president is actually a political coward. Considering is actively being given to the possibility that the faction probably needs a new leader,” said the party activist.