PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will today preside over a bitterly divided Zanu PF politburo amid heightened tensions, as the acrimonious succession wars threaten to boil over.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/OBEY MANAYITI
It could turn out to be an explosive gathering in the wake of reports that the two distinct factions within the party were separately mobilising ahead of what could be a defining meeting.
War veterans have already threatened to block Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo from attending the meeting, while those said to be aligned to the ambitious G40 group were said to be mobilising under the guise of celebrating Mugabe’s appointment as an African Union special rapporteur.
Manicaland youth leader Mubuso Chinguno yesterday said he would be leading youths from his province “to stop those trying to undermine the President”.
“As Manicaland youth league, we are coming,” he declared.
“What the war vets are trying to do is unlawful and unconstitutional. Those threats are equal to revolting against the President, who is the only centre of power in Zanu PF.”
As if to indicate the worsening factionalism rocking Zanu PF, a new youth group going by the name Save Zanu PF Campaign has emerged.
Co-ordinated by suspended Mashonaland Central youth chairperson Godfrey Tsenengamu, the group used social media to organise youth league members from at least seven provinces to demonstrate in an effort “to save the party from thieves, gays and sell-outs”.
“It is our duty to save the party of sweat, blood and tears,” a posting on WhatsApp that went viral yesterday read.
“We cannot fold our hands while thieves, gays, sell-outs and enemies tear it apart. Children of war veterans, war collaborators and all parents, you are called upon (to) come (and) let us defend our legacy. It is our future at stake.”
Provincial co-ordinators listed included Godfrey Gomwe (Harare), Vengai Musengi (Mashonaland West), Edmore Samambwa (Midlands), Washington Nkomo (Matabeleland South) and Tamuka Nyoni (Matabeleland North).
Tsenengamu confirmed the existence of the group.
“In 2014, we stood up as the youth and helped the President and First Lady Grace Mugabe to defend the party from people of similar thinking,” he said.
“We will not let them down now. We will defend our party and the President’s legacy that individuals bent on spoiling the broth are now trying to destroy.”
However, the Zanu PF secretary for the youth league in the politburo, Pupurai Togarepi, said the ruling party had structures to communicate its messages.
“There is no reason for violence if the issue is about showing our solidarity with our President,” Togarepi said.
A section of the party’s women’s league, reportedly linked to G40, has also reportedly been mobilising a demonstration against Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom they wanted to open up about his presidential ambitions.
While the party agonised about today’s meeting and the potential showdown by rival factions, war veterans were not backing down from their demand that Moyo be expelled from the party and barred from the politburo meeting, with the former freedom fighters’ association secretary-general Victor Matemadanda yesterday saying they were “restrategising in the face of their (G40) strategy”.
“Their strategy is to create a situation where war veterans will fight with women, but we will not be drawn into that,” he said.
“We will not fight our people, but our hope is that our patron and the country’s leader (Mugabe) will restore order in the party.”
The war veterans’ leadership and Zanu PF members believed to be aligned to Mnangagwa have ratcheted up pressure on the Higher Education minister, demanding the politburo take a definitive stand on his use of social media to abuse other party members.
While Moyo was seemingly on the back foot for the past 10 days, he has received support from Youth minister Patrick Zhuwao and Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who has said the ruling party would not be forced into discussing “peripheral issues” such as social media.
However, party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo has been insistent all week that social media would be discussed at today’s meeting, drawing the ire of his namesake, the Higher Education minister, who warned his days could be numbered.
“SK Moyo is my brother. Did they quote him right? If so, then he’s going the Rugare Gumbo way as party spokesman,” Moyo wrote on Twitter.
“We will put The Herald on the agenda of the politburo meeting tomorrow (today). It has become a successionist disgrace.”
Kasukuwere, according to State media, was organising demonstrations at the Zanu PF headquarters today using parallel structures and there have been warnings of possible confrontation.
“Will defend the leader of our party and country without fear or favour,” Kasukuwere declared on his Twitter account.
“No amount of intimidation can work. Forget it.”
With the planned demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, today’s politburo meeting could turn out to be more than a handful for law enforcement agents, but police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said: “I will check”, when asked if any of the groups organising demonstrations had notified law enforcement agents.
Academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza warned of “serious repercussions” if Mugabe does not stop the fights.
“I hope he will be able to do something to stop what has become an open confrontation,” Mandaza said. “The powers-that-be should act swiftly to stop this confrontation that could have serious repercussions.”