Knives out in Mnangagwa camp

HARARE – With former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies now brutally shunted out of the way, supporters of new VP Emmerson Mnangagwa are now turning on each other viciously as the mindless bloodletting within Zanu PF refuses to go away.

The Daily News is reliably informed that the faction aligned to Mnangagwa  is now locked in a nasty and escalating fight for the spoils of their thuggish victory over Mujuru, with many hardliners in the camp apparently feeling that they have not been rewarded sufficiently for their role in annihilating the former VP’s camp.

So bad have relations become in the Mnangagwa camp that some of its members are even begrudging the fact that Mugabe rewarded Ngwena (Mnangagwa’s nickname) with the VP post despite the fact that he allegedly “played a lesser role in the ousting of Mai Mujuru”.

Well-placed sources alleged yesterday that the so-called “Gang of Four” — comprising senior party bigwigs Oppah Muchinguri, Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere — were allegedly deeply mired in the intra-faction brawls, amid suggestions that they were looking to grab more power in the party.

This group, the sources alleged, was working closely with controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe, and at times operated as the brains trust of the Gushungo (Mugabe’s totem) clan — that looked after the interests of the nonagenarian and his family.

It is further alleged that this group has worked very hard to try and get Senate President Edna Madzongwe, or even Grace herself, to become vice president, and not Mnangagwa — whom they allegedly believed had not done enough in the lead-up to Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress earlier this month to deserve the post.

One of the senior party officials who spoke to the Daily News yesterday likened the fight for power in the divided party as that of “baboons fighting to the death for a single cob of maize”.

Another official in the Mnangagwa camp pointed to the vicious assault yesterday in lapdog State media on one of Mnangagwa’s allies as yet another clear indication that temperatures were heating up within the faction.

“Things are very bad within the camp my friend and my own worry is that we may be reaching another point of no return soon,” the official said.

In a surprising turn of events, The Herald panned politburo member and Psychomotor minister Josaya Hungwe, bluntly criticising the fact that he had likened Mnangagwa to Jesus Christ.

The normally pliant daily quoted “analysts” saying “such slavish hero-worshipping (of Mnangagwa) had the danger of creating an alternative centre of power in Zanu-PF which the party’s just-ended 6th National People’s Congress rectified by killing factionalism”.

Hungwe had uttered the offending words at the weekend while praising Mnangagwa at the new VP’s celebration party at his rural home in Zvishavane.

Another party official said it had not escaped many in the camp that lickspittle State media had been used to decimate Mujuru and relentlessly erode both her legitimacy and standing in the party and within the broader Zimbabwean society.

“The fact of the matter is that our (State) media only attacks people when you are no longer wanted by those who wield power. You can say the most outrageous things and do the most despicable things but you won’t be attacked if all is well.

“What many people are not sure about now is whether the attack on Hungwe is on him per se or it is directed at Ngwena. But whatever it is, everyone is advised to hold on tightly to their chairs because it is getting rough again,” he said.

A senior Zanu PF official suggested that Moyo did not “entirely trust Mnangagwa” since the 2004 Tsholotsho Declaration fallout in which the new VP seemingly dumped his followers who were savagely dealt with by Mugabe for allegedly plotting a coup against the 90-year-old leader.

Moyo, Kusukuwere, Muchinguri and Zhuwawo reportedly wanted to be rewarded with more senior posts in the politburo but were disappointed by Mugabe’s choices.

“Moyo at the very least thought that after orchestrating the downfall of Rugare Gumbo, he would land the post of secretary for information but he was given the portfolio of science and technology.

Moyo also thought that after savaging Transport Minister Obert Mpofu, the filthy rich minister would be dropped but President Mugabe had other ideas.In terms of hierarchy, Moyo is effectively third from bottom in the politburo.

Mugabe trusts Mpofu to an extent of giving him the powerful post of finance in the politburo and this has infuriated the Gang of Four.

“Muchinguri is also livid that she was given the portfolio of secretary for transport after donating the women’s league portfolio to Grace and again this did not go down well with the gang which wanted her to be at least the party chairperson or even VP to replace Mujuru. The fight will be more brutal and dirtier than the war against Mujuru,” said another top politburo source.

He also claimed that Kasukuwere “has never liked Mnangagwa” to lead Zanu PF.

“All these people had one common enemy and that was Mujuru, who made it appear as if they were working together. But the truth of the matter is that Moyo and Kasukuwere are pushing their own agenda and it’s no surprise that the State media has now openly attacked Mnangagwa indirectly through one of his loyalists (Hungwe).

“To even suggest that Hungwe was trying to push for the creation of another centre of power in Mnangagwa is not only a clear fabrication, it is also testimony that all is not well in the party,” he added.

Eldred Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist, said there were now two main factions in Zanu PF — namely the Gushungo and Mnangagwa factions.

He said the two factions had operated as one to destroy the Mujuru camp and it now remained to be seen if they could work together.

“The other two factions coalesced against Mujuru and now that they have decimated that faction, the question is, which one remains the most dominant?” Masunungure asked.

“To me the Gushungo faction is now in control of the party because Mugabe knows that real power lies in the party not in the government, so Mnangagwa may not be the winner after all.”

But Pedzisai Ruhanya, a media and democracy scholar, said the Mnangagwa camp had to rein in Hungwe because his statements were way off the mark.

“The thinking behind the powers that control State media and Mnangagwa himself is that Hungwe erred in likening Mnangagwa to Jesus,” Ruhanya said.

“This would have implied that Mnangagwa is greater than any person in the whole of Zimbabwe and this includes Mugabe. As you know Mugabe would not take this lightly, so the Mnangagwa camp felt that Hungwe had to be reined in,” he added.

Maxwell Saungweme, another Harare-based political analyst, said the savage attack on Hungwe was a clear testimony that Mnangagwa’s camp was made up of power-hungry individuals.

“It could be a sign of simmering divisions within the Mnangagwa faction which is expected as their marriage as a faction was one of people who are power hungry and whose immediate objective was to get rid of Mujuru, before coming back to their old selves,” he said.

“But the fact also remains that you cannot liken a mere mortal like Mnangagwa to Jesus. That is the worst form of blasphemy,” he added.

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