FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday hammered the last nail on under-fire Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s political coffin, declaring that the VP should be gone, both from government and Zanu PF party, before the ruling party’s extraordinary congress next month.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
This came as Zanu PF executives in four provinces — Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and Masvingo — yesterday met and endorsed calls for Mnangagwa and his allies to be booted out of the party on allegations of fanning factionalism and plotting President Robert Mugabe’s downfall.
A visibly angry Grace told thousands of apostolic sect members during her “Super Sunday Rally” at Rufaro Stadium in Harare that she would personally push for disciplinary procedures against Mnangagwa whom she accused of plotting to topple Mugabe from office as early as 1980.
“I moved to stop the issue of youths being expelled from the party and demanded that we deal with the head of factionalism. A snake is better dealt with by crushing the head,” Grace ranted breaking into a rendition of singer Sulumani Chimbetu’s ‘Batai Munhu’ hit song.
“His head must be crushed. I have said I will personally make sure disciplinary procedures are followed to deal with Mnangagwa even if everyone in the party is scared. I will not be intimidated.”
Grace said Mnangagwa hated Mugabe since independence.
“He wanted to wrest power from the President in 1980 claiming there was a plot to have him assassinated by Rhodesians just after the elections. He advised the President to leave the country but it was Samora (Machel, late Mozambican leader) who told Mugabe to return home. He hates the President,” Grace claimed.
Yesterday’s direct attacks on Mnangagwa came hardly a day after Mugabe and his wife took turns to lampoon the Vice-President in Bulawayo on Saturday accusing him of plotting to unseat the Zanu PF leader and mobilising his
loyalists to boo Grace.
Mnangagwa has come under attack after years of a brutal internal power struggle that has seen Zanu PF split between two distinct factions. The VP is reportedly leading one faction known as Team Lacoste while another group known as G40 is fronted by party national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo with support from Mugabe and his wife.
Grace warned of a second round of brutal purges akin to the chaos that followed former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s expulsion in 2014, but this time targeting Mnangagwa allies.
“Trouble causers in the party must go before the next congress. He (Mnagagwa) must be dropped before we meet at congress in order for us to have unity in the party.
“Those accused of pushing a Lacoste agenda in the women’s league are dead. Chipanga (politburo secretary for you Kudzanai) all youths associated with Lacoste are gone,” the First Lady declared amid gaffes of laughter, to cheers from sections of the crowd mainly women sitting in the VIP tent.
Mugabe has agreed to an elective congress in December instead of the annual conference and on Saturday told party supporters at a youth rally in Bulawayo that all burning issues will be settled then. The 93-year-old Zanu PF leader also accused Mnangagwa of fanning factionalism, threatening to “drop him even tomorrow”.
Grace has been agitating for changes to the Zanu PF constitution to re-introduce a clause that provides for a woman in the presidium. She however said Mnangagwa’s problems ran deeper than the changes to the party’s governance charter. “He probably hates me for demanding the woman’s quota but it is more than that. Even without the constitutional changes he can still be dropped and someone appointed in his stead just like we saw a few weeks ago with the Cabinet changes,” she said. “It was a mistake to change the constitution and allow Mnangagwa to be appointed. It will never happen again.”
Grace gave the clearest hint yet that she was ready to deputise her husband.
“I am so good at what I do, I can say it myself. Give me the job and I will do it very well because I am good. I can do a great job,” she said.
Grace said there would be nothing wrong if Mugabe were to eventually anoint her as his successor.
“There is nothing wrong because we will be following in Mnangagwa’s footsteps. He left a constituency (Chirumanzu-Zibagwe) to his wife. So I have said the President you can also leave me in charge. You can also give me your position. We will just be copying from Mnangagwa,” she added.
Turning to her embarrassing booing by Mnangagwa’s alleged allies in Bulawayo on Saturday, Grace said: “He (Mnangagwa) thinks we are foolish. He was coordinating everything and when (Jay Prayzah)’s song ‘Mudhara Vachauya’ was being played he was pointing at himself with his thumbs instead of the President.”
“Mnangagwa thinks he knows Mugabe because he has worked with the President for a long time but yesterday (Saturday) he saw the other side of the man. Mugabe is a patient man. He has tried to protect Mnangagwa but now things have changed. He (Mnangagwa) will be dropped,” Grace seethed, adding the former Justice minister would then have to spend more time at his farm.
“We are going to congress and all of us will have to step-down from our positions. We would then have to hope that the President will re-appoint us to our positions. If he does not re-appoint you, well tough luck, it is not the end of the world. At least you have a farm and grandchildren to play with,” she said sarcastically.
Mugabe at the rally claimed that he knew that rowdy youths who booed his wife were connected to Mnangagwa.
Grace added that after Mugabe’s angry address in Bulawayo, Mnangagwa reached out to his boss and attempted to reason with him, to no avail.
“He followed us to the airport (Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo) and tried to talk to the President as he took the stairs into the plane. The President just looked back and asked ‘what nonsense was that’ referring to the booing,” Grace said amid giggles, adding this was not the first time Mnangagwa had confronted Mugabe after being dressed down.
She said the VP did the same following her unrestrained rant at another youth interface rally in Bindura.
“He was angry and asked the President for an explanation. We then met, the four of us including Vice-President (Phelekezela) Mphoko. To my surprise, I realised Mnangagwa is a coward. He could not face me and say what he wanted to say. He wilted but I took him on. I told him he is a liar and he just sat there stone-faced without a word. That man is a coward I tell you. When push comes to shove, he just shuts his mouth,” Mugabe’s wife said.
But Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) leader Christopher Mutsvangwa, a known Mnangagwa ally yesterday dared Mugabe to a vote to determine who was more popular between the Zanu PF leader and his deputy.
“Zanu PF is a revolutionary democratic party which prides in the vote. And Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy.
The vote is the ultimate litmus test. If Mugabe and his dynastic wife are true to their rally protestations, let both subject themselves to a transparent and free vote at both party and national level,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Mugabe, Grace and their G40 cohorts will never be allowed hide and seek with the exercise of free popular will.
Each youth interface rally has only served to raise the stature of ED (Mnangagwa) to the point of national veneration. And thumps up to the Bulawayo rally it forced a jaded DisGrace (Grace) and her husband into throwing tantrums before a city, a national and a global television audience”.
Mutsvangwa added: “It’s Mugabe versus the people, ED with the people. The rally whimpered to a mere threat when Grace and her G40 cohorts anticipated a big bang. Mnangagwa has the people on his side.”