PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday blasted warring factions in his party telling G40 and Lacoste to “shut up”, as he hammered War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa for organising a demonstration by hundreds of ex-freedom fighters, which was brutally crushed by police in Harare on Thursday.
In a State of the Nation Address, which was more of a Zanu PF address, Mugabe seemed unhappy at what he described as insults against him and his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe, describing them as culturally wrong.
But he reserved his wrath for Mutsvangwa, warning that “action would be taken where action needed to be taken”.
“We take exception to that,” he said. “This irresponsible manner brings the name of the party and Head of Government into disrepute. People are beginning to wonder whether in fact we are governing properly in accordance with the rules.
“Let Mutsvangwa not blame the police, he deserved the teargas, but the rest did not deserve it.”
Mugabe, who was flanked to his right by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his counterpart Phelekezela Mphoko on the left, apologised to war veterans who were on the receiving end of police brutality, but said Mutsvangwa deserved it.
He said, as patron of the war veterans, he was unaware of Thursday’s war veterans meeting and neither did the security cluster ministers, that of Home Affairs, Defence and State Security.
“I don’t know in what capacity he invited war veterans,” Mugabe continued.
“Even if he invited them as chairperson, he is still minister. And a demonstration against what, a government in which he is minister?
“He has channels in government to express his grievances and suggest to us what measures to take. But for him to call a meeting which we knew nothing about?”
Mugabe claimed that Mutsvangwa misled war veterans that the President would address them, warning he would be made to answer for his actions as a Cabinet minister.
The rather subdued President also spoke against tribalism in the party.
He also warned youths to stop insulting their leaders, saying if they were motivated by drugs, they should stop taking dagga.
On factionalism, Mugabe told the ambitious G40 and Lacoste factions to “shut up”.
G40, which is sympathetic to Grace, is opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding 92-year-old Mugabe.