HARARE – A mere three weeks into his tenure as President Robert Mugabe’s senior lieutenant, the knives are now being sharpened against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zanu PF’s ugly infighting refuses to go away and the party faction that worked together to decimate former anti-Joice Mujuru falls apart.
The Daily News learnt yesterday that among Mnangagwa’s new rabid critics are erstwhile colleagues who played a critical role in annihilating Mujuru and her perceived sympathisers, a development that paved the way for his Phoenix-like rise from the political ashes to the presidium.
The sources said Mnangagwa’s former supporters were not just “peeved by his meteoric rise to the VP position” while they had to “make-do with scraps”, they were also upset that he had seemingly forgotten them and was allegedly acting as if he was now “the substantive head of State” while Mugabe was on holiday.
As a result, some within the former anti-Mujuru grouping — particularly the so-called “Gang of Four” — now expeditiously wanted the tail of the party strongman cut.
The sources also claimed that it had not helped that the much-feared vice president had recently hosted parties and business persons in his home province, the Midlands, where some of the disaffected hardliners had not been invited to.
Worse still, some of Mnangagwa’s most fervent followers, such as Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe, had made the fatal mistake of praising him overzealously at these gatherings — at worst silly faux pas that the hardliners had expediently latched on to, in their quest to cut Ngwena down to size.
“There are some within the victorious camp who feel that Mnangagwa in the first place did not deserve to be vice president after doing virtually nothing during the Mujuru demolition job where First Lady
Grace Mugabe was used to turn President Mugabe against Amai Mujuru,” a well-placed source told the Daily News.
He said in particular the so-called “Gang of Four”— comprising senior party bigwigs Oppah Muchinguri, Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere — was allegedly working to undermine the VP and to “expose him as a power-hungry individual who is not fit to take over from Mugabe”.
This, the source added, supposedly explained why Mnangagwa, just like what had happened to Mujuru, was coming under vicious attack in the State media — “to discredit him as much as possible”.
Writing in the lickspittle Sunday Mail yesterday, a columnist who uses the bizarre pseudonym of Bishop Lazarus, and widely believed to be a senior Zanu PF bigwig, accused Mnangagwa of jettisoning party resolutions emanating from the party’s congress, and behaving like the deceased party stalwart Solomon Mujuru, who was widely regarded as a kingmaker.
Lazarus also queried why Mnangagwa had told a business delegation at his farm on the outskirts of Kwekwe that Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws would be reviewed.
“Dear reader, there are two very worrying things about the statement above. The first worrying point is where this statement was made and secondly if indeed the VP said government would announce new business policies aimed at relaxing the indigenisation laws, then the bishop is amazed that the VP is throwing resolutions from the just ended Zanu PF into the dustbin so fast and furious,” the columnist said.
The columnist went on to say that it was also inappropriate for the VP to hold meetings at his Sherwood Farm, just like the late Solomon Mujuru had done.
“You see it starts with these courtesy calls at the farm and before we know it things get out of hand. There are so many places where these business people could have met VP Mnangagwa without raising any suspicion.
“Once upon a time, the bishop vividly remembers a famous farm somewhere in Beatrice where business people flocked to pay homage to some presumably powerful political skimmer who went on to get entangled in very dirty political games that are today haunting those he left behind.
“We don’t want a repeat of that in Kwekwe because that would be tragic and very unfortunate. VP Mnangagwa is a veteran politician and we hope he will move the courtesy calls to either his offices or some other place that suits his important office,” the columnist added.
The same paper also laid into the minister of State for Mashonaland West, Faber Chidarikire, yesterday for jokingly referring to Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxilia, as the acting First Lady.
“In my entire life I have never heard of an acting First Lady, where did he get that nonsense from. He is not the only one who is getting over-excited but most of these guys now regard Mnangagwa as the President,” a top Zanu PF official allegedly told the paper.
In an interview with the State media last week, Moyo also said people should not confuse Mnangagwa’s appointment as VP as anointment as Mugabe’s successor.
And Mugabe’s nephew, Zhuwao, also warned last week that those close to Mnangagwa needed to guard against getting too excited.
Respected political commentator and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure recently told the Daily News that Mujuru’s ouster would not translate into Mnangagwa’s automatic ascendency to the highest seat in government.
He said there were now two main factions in Zanu PF — namely the Gushungo (Mugabe’s totem) and Mnangagwa factions.
“The other two factions coalesced against Mujuru and now that they have decimated that faction, the question is which one remains the most dominant?
“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,” Masunungure said.