President Robert Mugabe yesterday admitted that security officials — army, police and Central Intelligence Organisation — were dabbling in Zanu PF politics, saying they were now involved in the party’s bitter factionalism and succession battle.
by Elias Mambo/Richard Chidza
According to the Constitution, State organs are supposed to remain apolitical, but a peeved Mugabe said he had been informed that the security sector was also involved in factionalism in the party.
“People want positions and want support. Ambition is allowed, but it should not split the party,” he said while officially opening the Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls yesterday.
“The military, police and the intelligence are now involved and split as well. Let’s stop this. We do not want factions. Nobody has people. We are all Zanu PF.”
Mugabe’s outburst came as war veterans resolved that army commanders should sit in the Zanu PF politburo and the remarks might have just put paid to that.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, military commander Philip Valerio Sibanda, Air Force commander Perrance Shiri, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and prisons chief Paradzayi Zimondi sat in silence as Mugabe reprimanded the “securocrats” for involving themselves in the party’s power dynamics.
Opposition parties have repeatedly called for security sector reforms accusing the securocrats of behaving like an appendage of the ruling party, but Zanu PF has strongly rejected those demands.
Mnangagwa last year told a rally in Midlands that “Chiwenga is our commissar”.
In 2002, when the opposition MDC threatened Mugabe’s hold on power, the military threatened “never to salute anyone without liberation war credentials”, a message purportedly directed at MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the President’s foremost challenger, as he does not have war credentials.
Zanu PF is reportedly sharply divided into two major factions, one linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and another group dubbed Generation 40 (G40) which has coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe.
The two factions joined hands in the build-up to the December 2014 congress and overthrew former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
However, a few months after the Mujuru ouster, the factions entangled in a vicious fight to strategically position themselves, with G40 roping in Grace as their potential leader.
G40 also engineered to have a clause calling for the return of a quota system that a percentage of top posts be reserved for women, which many see as a plot to elevate Grace to the party’s presidium, while relegating Mnangagwa.
Mugabe said Zanu PF was sharply divided, with some saying they supported Mnangagwa, while others said they were for Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko.
“When you say that, so who are my people now?” he lamented.
Mphoko is reportedly working with the G40, which is reportedly fronted by Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Youth minister Patrick Zhuwao, who is Mugabe’s nephew.
As delegates arrived on Wednesday, security details including members of the intelligence, police and those in the military, were all over Victoria Falls, literally sending the resort town into a lockdown.
Sources said the security sector was now torn into distinct factions.
While some security personnel are aligned to G40, others are said to be rallying behind Mnangagwa.
“Some members of the security agencies are looking for the people who are said to have planned to boo Mnangagwa,” the source said.
“The accreditation cards had to be recalled this morning [yesterday] so as to re-verify the authenticity of the delegates to the conference, as security red flags were raised. The accreditation process has been taken over by the CIO, as they moved to weed out rogue delegates.”