Boxed into a corner by the Mnangagwa faction, members of the Mujuru camp have resolved to fight back and they are already returning fire.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
They are now more determined to confront President Robert Mugabe over a sustained smear-campaign by the rival faction led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, The Standard was told.
Well-placed sources within the camp told this paper that emotions were rising within the Mujuru camp ahead of the party’s December elective congress as their stalwarts were being purged in the provinces and senior leaders embarrassed.
This followed the drama that occurred at Zanu PF headquarters on Thurdsay where Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Zanu PF secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa and others were openly denounced by Zanu PF supporters.
Mujuru is said to have avoided embarrassment by getting into the building before the crowd wielding placards had gathered.
Mugabe added insult to injury when he addressed the supporters of the Mnangagwa camp before the politburo meeting. In his address, he denounced Mujuru loyalists like war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda and Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde.
However, in the politburo, if Mugabe anticipated that the Mujuru faction would remain quiet, he was shocked. While Mujuru remained composed, bigwigs loyal to her came out guns blazing in Mujuru’s defence. They told Mugabe in no uncertain terms that his wife was fronting Mnangagwa’s faction, adding Grace’s “meet the people rallies” had been hijacked by Mnangagwa faction, keen on discrediting Mujuru.
At the rallies, the First Lady demanded that Mujuru resigns from her position, alleging that she was incompetent, corrupt and disloyal to Mugabe.
According to sources, party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo is said to have openly told Mugabe that Grace’s pronouncements were uncalled for.
He reportedly heckled Jonathan Moyo for claiming that Mujuru wanted to oust Mugabe, adding that the Information minister was the one who was plotting Mugabe’s ouster as reflected in the articles he penned prior to the 2008 general elections.
Moyo, when he responded, is said to have deliberately avoided commenting on the articles where he said Mugabe should go because he was a security threat.
Gumbo said that the Mnangagwa camp hijacked Grace’s rallies as evidenced by the sudden change of tone in her addresses after the Masvingo rally when Moyo, Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, politburo member Patrick Zhuwao and others, to mention a few, joined her.
Politburo members — Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube and Angeline Masuku, former Matabeleland South governor — upped the tempo when they also told Mugabe that Grace’s tirade against the Matabeleland people had destroyed the party.
They said Grace’s advance team deliberately started distributing seed and mealie-meal so that people rushing out for the commodities would appear as if they were walking out on the First Lady thereby giving an impression of rebellion.
Grace was angered by the walkout.
Another politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu is said to have told the politburo meeting that Grace’s visit had left the party in a quandary in Bulawayo and more work should be done to lure back supporters.
During the stormy politburo meeting, Muchinguri also tabled her long-awaited report on Grace’s rallies, which she could not present last week claiming that she needed more time to work on it.
But the report, seen by The Standard, was so shallow that it shocked some officials.
It only chronicled events leading to Grace’s nomination, the names of women from the women’s assembly that accompanied her and the purpose of the rallies.
The report claimed that Grace’s visit would, among other things, “allow the First Lady to thank people of Zimbabwe for voting resoundingly for H.E.
President Robert Mugabe in the June 31 2014 harmonised elections.” This, however, was despite that elections were held on July 31 2013.
It did not mention anything about Grace’s attacks on Mujuru that had been a subject of debate, neither did it list the names of the party members from the main wing and youths who accompanied Grace.
Dube is said to have rubbished Muchinguri’s report as shallow and castigated the use of the slogan, “Down with Gamatox” claiming it was divisive. Muchinguri is said to have claimed they were chanting it in retaliation to the “Down with Weevils” slogan, to which Mugabe claimed he was the one who initiated it.
Mugabe is said to have professed ignorance on what Gamatox referred to, claiming he had asked Mutasa earlier about it.
Mutasa was heckled by Mnangagwa supporters in full view of Mugabe, but in the politburo meeting, Mugabe is said to have defended him, saying the two were long-time allies.
“Muchinguri’s report was shallow. Why she asked for more time to compile it is now clear; the faction wanted to stage-manage things before the politburo to set the tone of the meeting. That is why they bussed supporters to come and denounce Mujuru in front of Mugabe. It was pre-emptive,” a source said
Sources said Mujuru loyalists were coming out of their shells after being barred from campaigning for positions at congress “to make sure that the whole faction is crippled before the floor is opened”.
Gumbo on Friday told journalists that Mnangagwa and company were plotting to oust Mugabe, contrary to the camp’s claims that it was Mujuru who wanted to topple him.