HARARE – There are growing fears within Zanu PF that the ruling party’s escalating factional and succession wars could soon witness body bags, with the tone of the infighting getting nastier and uglier by the day.
Party insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said they were “very worried” about the extent to which the two main factions battling for supremacy within the former liberation movement now appeared “to hate each other”.
“I think anyone who says that they are not concerned by the wars will be lying. The truth of the matter is that at the rate at which things are deteriorating, it may be a matter of time before we see body bags in places like Harare and the Midlands where factionalism is the new favourite hobby,” a Zanu PF official said.
Yesterday, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo ratcheted up his return fire against War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa (pictured), accusing the former diplomat of being a “petticoat thief” during Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence.
This came after Mutsvangwa, said to be a key member of the party faction loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, accused the Tsholotsho North MP of having run away from the struggle, while also alleging that the former Information Tsar was embittered that his “traitor uncle” Ndabaningi Sithole — the founding president of Zanu — had been overthrown from the leadership of the party.
Moyo shot back with interest yesterday, savaging his ministerial counterpart and under-fire Information permanent secretary George Charamba. He also cast serious political aspersions on the State daily newspaper, The Herald.
“Mutsvangwa thinks he can do to some of us what he did to (former Vice President) Joice Mujuru with Charamba’s & Herald help. Handei tione!” Moyo thundered in an acerbic twitter post.
He also accused Mutsvangwa of lying about him having deserted the armed struggle.
“It’s a lie by some bloke famed for stealing & selling underwear of female cadres from the drying line at the camps!
“Against a self glorified war vet & petticoat thief who’d steal female underwear at camps in the struggle to sell!” the sharp-tongued Moyo tweeted.
Asked by his Twitter followers if his Zanu PF camp had been toppled by the Mnangagwa faction given that he had been blacked out by State media, amid claims that Team Lacoste had now hijacked State information, Moyo retorted: “Do you mean information or disinformation?”
“Mutsvangwa: ‘I speak for Mnangagwa … & Charamba..’ Ok. Nationalists are defending President Mugabe, Party & Country!” he added, suggesting that Mutsvangwa was not supporting Mugabe, but nefariously working to prop up Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential ambitions.
Moyo also reacted with venom on Monday to threats by the pro-Mnangagwa Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) to deal with him.
In a hard-hitting statement then, Moyo also savaged Mutsvangwa — describing him as a “rogue” factionalist and “desperate successionist”, while once again describing Charamba as a “blithering idiot”.
And in a stunning claim, Moyo also accused Mutsvangwa and his war veterans followers in the leadership of the ZNLWVA of abusing the Presidential Guard military barracks in Harare’s Dzivaresekwa high density suburb to plot their factional politics.
The biting statement followed weekend threats by the ZNLWVA secretary general, Victor Matemadanda, to bar Moyo — who together with other senior Zanu PF officials such as Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao are seen as opposed to Mnangagwa — from attending forthcoming party politburo meetings.
“My attention has been drawn to a media statement by successionist elements in the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), first reported by ZBC News on Saturday evening, 30 January, 2016 and subsequently carried by NewsDay and the Daily News on Monday 1 February, 2016.
“The statement declares support for scurrilous and unprecedented political attacks on Cabinet ministers, including myself, who are also politburo members by the permanent secretary in the ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba.
“In particular, the statement threatens to physically bar me from attending the next politburo meeting and purports to bar me from accessing the 16th Floor of Zanu PF Head Quarters, which 16th floor does not exist except only in their ignorant minds,” Moyo began his acerbic statement.
“Apparently, the said statement was issued after a provincial meeting of ZNLWVA held on Saturday, 30 January, 2016 at Dzivaresekwa Presidential Guard Barracks which was chaired by John Guta and officiated by ZNLWVA national chairman, Chris Mutsvangwa, and its secretary-general Victor Matemadanda.
“It is extraordinary and indeed scary that the Dzivaresekwa Presidential Guard Barracks was used as a venue for a meeting whose purpose was to plot and threaten physical harm against a Cabinet minister and politburo member appointed to both offices by His Excellency, the President.
“This was a gross and unacceptable abuse of a State facility. The fact that this unprecedented abuse of State barracks was officiated by (Chris) Mutsvangwa — a Cabinet minister and politburo member — not only raises eyebrows about what else was plotted, but also clearly demonstrates the extent to which Chris Mutsvangwa has gone rogue in pursuit of not just a factionalist agenda but also a desperate successionist plot,” Moyo charged.
“It should be remembered that ahead of the 2015 Zanu PF’s National People’s Conference, the same (Chris) Mutsvangwa availed his ministerial office to a shadowy youth group from which it made violent statements barring Cdes Saviour Kasukuwere, Patrick Zhuwao and myself from setting foot at the National Heroes Acre.
“Abusing a government ministerial office for that outrageous purpose was bad enough, but abusing Dzivaresekwa Presidential Guard Barracks in pursuit of a successionist plot is just going way too far.
“For the record, I wish to state that it is false and insulting to His Excellency, the President, to claim that he sent George Charamba to savage his Cabinet ministers and politburo members on public radio with all sorts of primitive insults such as “uneducated fools”; “little men” among other unprintable epithets.
“Cabinet ministers and politburo members are not civil servants, but are presidential appointees with whom His Excellency the President has direct communication as their boss.
“In the same vein and for the avoidance of doubt, I reiterate that only a blithering idiot will say or believe that I am working with Joice Mujuru’s People First project which exists only in the media,” he added.
“Finally, nobody should make the mistake of thinking for a moment that they can block me from attending a politburo meeting called and chaired by President Mugabe. That can never happen.
“Only the president can stop anyone from attending any meeting he convenes or chairs. For anyone else to seek to do that under any pretext whatsoever will be tantamount to usurping the president’s prerogative and authority, something which is not different from a successionist attempt at a coup,” he said in conclusion.