HARARE – As Zanu PF’s ugly tribal, factional and succession wars continue to escalate, angry war veterans have threatened to beat up ruling party supporters who are planning to denounce Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, upon President Robert Mugabe’s expected return to the country tomorrow, from his month-long holiday in the Far East.
This comes as the Zanu PF faction going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), and which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, is said to be planning to transport thousands of party supporters to the Harare International Airport tomorrow morning, to welcome back the nonagenarian and his family.
The disaffected leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) told the Daily News yesterday that it had “impeccable intelligence” suggesting that the G40 had mobilised its supporters to embarrass Mnangagwa at the airport by brandishing placards denouncing the Midlands godfather for hobnobbing with sacked party officials during the festive season.
“We want to warn them (G40 kingpins and their supporters) that they are going too far. Kana vachienda kunogamuchira Mugabe ngavaende vanogamuchira Mugabe (If they want to go and welcome Mugabe, then they should do just that),” warned combative ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda.
“Vakada kusimudza maplacards ekunyomba (if they wave placards to embarrass and provoke) VP Mnangagwa, we as the group from the liberation struggle will fight back, not because we are saying Mugabe is not the president, but because we are fighting on behalf of a fellow comrade.
“We know that they are making placards and we have put our people on standby. Ngavafambe nawo maplacards acho tivone. Tinodzigura zviuno chembere idzodzo. Vakangofamba nemaplacards vachiti Ngwena kudii-dii tinovadira. Ende kumajere kwacho tavakukuziva tinokudzokera (Let them wave their placards against Mnangagwa and we will teach them a hard lesson. We will beat them up. We are not afraid to go back to jail),” he added.
“Iye president wacho ngaazive kuti varikuronga zvinhu zvavo vachida kusvoora ED (Mnangagwa) he must reprimand them. Even vasina kuita, he must tell them that this nonsense must come to an end, otherwise tozoti ndiye arikuvatuma. (Mugabe himself must stop them and if he does not we will conclude that he is the one who is behind them),” Matemadanda charged further.
Two weeks ago, the Daily News reported that some G40 members were planning a meeting with Mugabe upon his return from his holiday, to raise their concerns over Mnangagwa’s alleged plotting against the nonagenarian, as well as against the infamous “Cupgate” saga.
This was after Mnangagwa hosted sacked Zanu PF officials at his rural home during the festive season, with his party foes alleging that this was in fact a meeting organised to plot the ouster of Mugabe from power.
Since the images of Mnangagwa holding the much-obsessed about coffee mug (written I Am The Boss) emerged in the public domain, the G40 has gone to town about the issue, interpreting it as the VP’s open statement that he has unbridled presidential ambitions.
G40-linked party officials who subsequently met at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare, issued a statement in which they called for a probe into Mnangagwa for hobnobbing with the likes of war veterans’ leader Christopher Mutsvangwa and maverick businessman-cum-politician, Energy Mutodi.
Matemadanda reiterated to the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa was poised to succeed Mugabe, despite the alleged spirited efforts by the G40 to stand in the VP’s way.
Repeating the “chinhu ichi (This Thing)” phrase which gained notoriety after State media columnist Nathaniel Manheru recently used it amid much controversy, Matemadanda said the structures for a post-Mugabe era were already in place.
“Chinhu ichi is the political foundation for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is not for a special tribe or ethnicity. We would like to advise Mugabe that he is now old and there is the natural process to come. He will go.
“He became the country’s prime minister when he was 56 and it is now our turn. We have been patient for a long time. We are now in our 60s and 70s and are ready.
“We have been in the queue for a long time and it is now our turn. We are going to rule this country, otherwise there will be gnashing of teeth,” Matemadanda warned ominously.
“Those who are saying Mugabe should rule forever are only protecting their interests. They are corrupt. But the bottom line is that this country does not belong to Mugabe. This country does not also belong to Zvimba.
“Those who think that they will jump the queue are mistaken. They don’t have respect for anyone, including the military. So, we are saying it is now our chance. Only thieves want Mugabe to continue ruling.
“That is why we are saying chine vene vacho chinhu ichi (This thing has its owners). Those people in G40, they should know that there will be a day without Mugabe,” he added.
The war veterans have been feuding with Mugabe ever since they broke their 41-year relationship with him mid last year, over their worsening plight and the country’s deepening political and economic rot.
Until that time, the fed-up ex-combatants had served as Mugabe and Zanu PF’s pillars, waging particularly brutal campaigns against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, especially in the bloody elections of 2000 and 2008.
The former freedom fighters’ stunning fallout with Mugabe and Zanu PF later saw Mutsvangwa being fired from both the Cabinet and the ruling party last year, while many of their other top leaders have also since been banished from the imploding former liberation movement, in addition to being hauled before the courts.
A meeting in April to try and mend relations between the war vets and Mugabe failed to resolve the stalemate, with the former freedom fighters setting difficult conditions for the nonagenarian, including that he ditches alleged G40 kingpins such as Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and the ruling party’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
And since the “Cupgate” saga, Mnangagwa’s allies, particularly a large cross-section of war veterans, have escalated their loud calls for Mugabe to retire and pave the way for his long time aide to take over the reins at both party and government levels.
Expelled former Mashonaland Central youth chairman, Godfrey Tsenengamu, recently joined this growing chorus by Team Lacoste to have Mnangagwa succeed Mugabe.
Mutodi has also vented along similar lines, imploring Zanu PF to hold an extraordinary congress to choose Mugabe’s successor.
He also claimed that Mugabe had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that “99 percent” of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way that the nonagenarian could win elections against popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
However, Mugabe has studiously refused to name a successor, arguing that his party should rather follow what he sees as a more democratic process: managing his succession via a congress.