HomeLocal NewsMnangagwa faces fresh humiliation

Mnangagwa faces fresh humiliation

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is expected to fly back home today ending his month-long annual vacation, amid reports that rival Zanu PF factions were plotting to dress each other down when they converge at Harare International Airport to welcome him.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and businessman Energy Mutodi toast at a private function held at the VP’s rural home last December
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and businessman Energy Mutodi toast at a private function held at the VP’s rural home last December

Zanu PF Harare provincial commissar, Shadreck Mashayamombe, yesterday confirmed plans for Mugabe’s “massive welcome rally” at the airport this afternoon, but denied reports that they were planning to use the occasion to embarrass Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa over his alleged growing ambitions to succeed Mugabe.

“We will, as usual, welcome the President. It is now our tradition, but this is just routine for us and nothing sinister about it,” he said.

“The President is coming tomorrow (today) and we are urging our members to come in their numbers. But our plans are dependent on his itinerary, which we do not have as of now.”

Mashayamombe denied claims they wanted to demonstrate against Mnangagwa, who is said to be in India, saying that was not how the party operates.

“We would never do that (seek to embarrass Mnangagwa) at the airport. It is not the way we do things,” he said.

“We are a peaceful people and are disciplined. If anyone wants to take advantage, we will see them.”

Some insiders claimed T-shirts and placards inscribed There is only one boss had been printed, in response to pictures that emerged of Mnangagwa carrying a mug written I’m the boss, which have caused ructions in Zanu PF.

A similar strategy was used in 2015, when T-shirts showing a picture of Mugabe and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo embracing with the words The unity that shall never collapse and Munhu wese kuna amai were distributed at the late Sikhanyiso Ndlovu’s burial, which were again targeted at Mnangagwa after he was accused of denigrating the former Zapu leader.

Zanu PF youth leader, Kudzai Chipanga, professed ignorance of the rally, although the ruling party’s Harare provincial youth leader, Edison Takataka, confirmed it.

“We know we will welcome our father, but I have not been advised as to when. As for the issue of T-shirts, it was just a suggestion, which I am not sure will be implemented,” Takataka said.

“But I can assure you, as chairperson, I will have mine. Of course, there is only one boss and that’s the President.”

Mashayamombe is linked to Zanu PF’s G40 faction, which is bitterly opposed to Mnangagwa’s bid to take over from the ailing Mugabe.

Mnangagwa is reportedly leading the other faction known as Team Lacoste.

Insiders said the plots to embarrass Mnangagwa would continue after today’s rally up to Mugabe’s 93rd birthday celebrations set for Matobo next month.

“They have printed different paraphernalia, which will carry messages taunting Mnangagwa’s recent pronouncements on Gukurahundi and their ‘mug declaration’. It is a plan to whip up emotions in the party against Mnangagwa,” one source said.

Other Zanu PF sources said today’s welcome rally could be moved to next Tuesday to allow Mugabe to travel to the African Union summit in Ethiopia, before “he is officially welcomed” back home to resume his duties.

In a bizarre twist, former Zanu PF provincial youth leader, Godfrey Tsenengamu, seen to be aligned to Mnangagwa, yesterday declared he would attend Mugabe’s welcome rally.

“Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe and our understanding is that the function is not a party gathering,” he said.

“So we will also attend in our numbers as citizens. We hear they have made arrangements to embarrass Mnangagwa or picket against him. If anyone is to be allowed such mischief, they should expect similar doses from us. We will deal with anybody who is planning to be up to no good.”

This will not be the first time Mnangagwa would have been embarrassed at a public event.

In February last year, Hurungwe East lawmaker, Sarah Mahoka, launched a broadside at the Vice-President and was followed by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene six months later.

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