ZANU PF’S vicious internal struggles for power and pronouncements by war veterans regarding the ruling party’s unresolved succession issue have forced Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa into a defensive mode.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
For the second time inside 12 months, Mnangagwa was this week forced to distance himself from reports that he was being backed by the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) in his campaign to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
On Wednesday, Mnangagwa told a Zanu PF campaign rally in Masvingo that Mutsvangwa and his colleagues were “lost elements”. The Midlands political godfather has on several occasions denied reports that he harbours ambitions to succeed Mugabe, although war veterans insist he is their choice for the throne.
ZNLWVA secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda, yesterday said the former freedom fighters were citizens with a right to hold an opinion.
“We are not partisan and we are not controlled by the rules of the game in Zanu PF. We have the right to support a person we feel has the capacity to lead this country going forward, this is why we went to fight in the bush so that our people have a better life,” he said.
Matemadanda said Mnangagwa was right to issue a statement distancing himself from the ZNLWVA leadership.
“Only opportunists, who don’t appreciate his history, would seek to score cheap points against Mnangagwa simply because our chairman (Mutsvangwa) has expressed an opinion,” he said.
A senior figure in Zanu PF said the continued wrangling, attacks by a faction of the ruling party known as G40 accusing Mnangagwa of being the architect of the Gukurahundi atrocities and gaffes by the war veterans had forced the VP to disown Mutsvangwa’s group.
“He was left with no choice. Mugabe has allowed G40 leaders like Jonathan Moyo to continuously accuse Mnangagwa of being the brains behind Gukurahundi.
“The war veterans have made the situation untenable for the Vice-President by attacking Mugabe and showing support for Mnangagwa. Now Moyo is left with nothing to clutch at given Mnangagwa’s washing of his hands of Gukurahundi,” the source claimed.
Despite distancing himself from the killings, several accounts have accused Mnangagwa, then Security minister, of having a role in Gukurahundi.
In July last year, war veterans issued a damning communiqué characterising Mugabe as a “genocidal leader” and demanding he steps down and paves way for a new leader.