BULAWAYO – Former Education minister David Coltart has waded into Zanu PF’s deadly tribal, factional and succession wars, becoming the latest prominent figure to challenge Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to “come clean” on his mooted presidential aspirations.
This comes as Zanu PF’s two major factions have been savaging each other with malicious intent ever since the images of Mnangagwa holding a coffee mug inscribed with the words “I Am the Boss” emerged in the public domain a fortnight ago.
But, Coltart who was recently quoted by an influential British magazine suggesting that Mnangagwa was the Zanu PF bigwig who was most likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe, told the Daily News yesterday that the Midlands godfather needed to be upfront about his presidential ambitions.
“Mnangagwa has a constitutional right, along with the rest of us, to aspire for political office. There is nothing wrong with that, and good luck to him.
“But I have a word of advice for him which is in two pieces. Firstly, he needs to be open to us, as there is this cat-and-mouse game being played in our country where it’s obvious to everyone that he has presidential aspirations but he continues with the fiction that he doesn’t want this.
“We all know he has presidential aspirations, he should just come out and say so,” Coltart told the Daily News.
He also said it was prudent for Mnangagwa to issue a public apology on his alleged role during the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s, in which an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians were killed by the army mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands, if his aspirations were to be eventually and successfully fulfilled.
“Secondly, he needs to draw the line in the sand regarding his past. All of us have a past. If you look in my book (The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe) I tried to draw a line in the sand to say that is what happened, I am not proud about it but I want to move forward.
“Mnangagwa needs to do the same. I think he will find a refreshing response from the people.
“If Mnangagwa can come clean with the people of Matabeleland, he might be surprised by how forgiving they are,” Coltart added.
Mnangagwa’s allies, particularly a large cross-section of war veterans, have also escalated their loud calls for Mugabe to retire and pave way for his long time aide to take over the reins at both party and government level.
Early this week, expelled former Mashonaland Central youth chairman, Godfrey Tsenengamu, also warned that the VP’s followers were becoming impatient with his softly-softly strategy.
Tsenengamu also warned that if Mnangagwa did not confront Mugabe and the succession issue now, he risked losing much of the support of his battle-weary followers and other Zimbabweans who were yearning for change.
“ED (Mnangagwa) is too loyal to Mugabe and we can’t eat his loyalty to his leader. We are worried about our future as a younger generation and if what matters to him is his loyalty to Mugabe then they are going to go down together because we can’t vote for Mugabe in 2018,” Tsenengamu said emphatically.
Sacked former Cabinet minister and war veterans’ leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, together with his executive, have also stepped up their efforts to force Mugabe to step down, accusing the increasingly frail nonagenarian of being at the centre of the country’s rot.
And like Tsenengamu, Mutodi and Mutsvangwa, former Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland West province, Temba Mliswa, has also recently suggested that Mugabe should hand over power to Mnangagwa as the ruling party’s succession wars burn ever hotter.