BY Everson Mushava
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday seemingly upped his attacks on his deputy, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, ordering provinces to identify Zanu PF members, who have been vilifying him and his wife, First Lady Grace and other senior officials, so they face disciplinary measures.
Addressing Zanu PF central committee members in Harare yesterday, Mugabe said provinces had been ordered to identify those who vilified senior party members, including himself and his wife, for disciplinary measures.
“I wish to conclude by paying tribute to our own discipline and sense of unity when the insults and vilification were thrown about,” he said.
“The President and First Lady had their own share of insults and vilifications. Several ministers and others had also received these allegations, completely false, completely malicious, and emanating from the same sources.
“We want those, who were doing this to stop and the provinces this is coming from, we strongly request them to, in the meantime, identify those who were behind it and where it is coming from and why this is being done. This should stop.”
Mnangagwa’s backers have been claiming the Midlands political godfather fell ill after taking poison-laced ice-cream from Mugabe’s Gushungo Diaries at a Gwanda youth interface rally last month.
This did not go down well with Mugabe, with his wife reportedly confronting Mnangagwa at Wednesday’s politburo meeting.
Grace reportedly demanded to know why it took Mnangagwa up to last week to respond when his supporters were all over social media platforms claiming he was poisoned with ice-cream from the First Family.
“Social media has created problems for us, people shouting and denigrating each other using very bad words,” Mugabe said.
“What kind of people have we become? What kind of children are we giving birth to?
“What kind of Zanu PF can that be, which is run on social media?
“Here, in the central committee, is the place where our policies are made; resolutions to problems are debated.”
The President implored leaders to find solutions among themselves and bring up matters for action in the party rather than washing dirty linen in public.
“We don’t want to see leaders quarrelling in public or taking each other to court. It means our party has failed. Those are not good examples to give to our youth, who are the future leaders,” he said.
“Such examples are bad in nature and not progressive in their thrust. Let us work together now on the eve of elections, so that we are not found divided and say to each other, if we wronged each other, let it be bygones. Unity and more unity is what we need.”
Mugabe and Grace have, in the past, accused Masvingo and Midlands of fanning factionalism and incidentally, these are the provinces where Mnangagwa has most of his support.
Matters came to a head following the death of Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa, with Zanu PF members aligned to the Vice-President, who had been taken ill at the time, accusing the rival G40 of being responsible for the poisoning.
Mnangagwa suffered a setback at the last politburo meeting, with some of his backers getting the axe, while his opponents were spared.
“Let us start together. If you vilify me and scold me and you say you are a member of the party, does that build the party or destroy it?” Mugabe said.
“Avoid, therefore, stances, actions and insults which destroy the party. I always say there is a way of solving whatever grievance. If we are going to insult each other, let us do it here behind closed doors. This is the house of ameliorating grievances.”
Mnangagwa’s poisoning saga has been playing out in the public domain, with a self-confessed ally, Energy Mutodi, being arrested after he claimed Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and his Health counterpart David Parirenyatwa were behind the alleged poisoning.
Mugabe implored party members to be united, as they face a disjointed opposition in next year’s elections.
“Recently, we have witnessed concerted efforts by opposition parties to coalesce, and fight Zanu PF as one. An externally driven assemblage of seven political parties was hurriedly put together last week giving birth to the so-called MDC Alliance,” he said.
“Fortunately for Zanu PF, these political parties are as divided as ever, fighting over leadership positions. We know, of course, that they are creatures of the West with the sole purpose of dislodging Zanu PF from power, but really, if they come together as a bundle, then one blow against the bundle will set the bundle unbundle in pieces, flying about.
“So, we will not need more than one blow for the one bundle of the divided persons, who purport to represent parties.
“Can’t you see that the parties are actually representing individuals, except the MDC that will lead them once again?”
Mugabe repeated his claims that the country’s economy was on the rebound.