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Mnangagwa loses ground
DRAMATIC events unfolding in ZA-NU-PF point to fresh and spirited attempts to reassign or kick out of the ruling party Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has already lost considerable ground to his nemesis in the past few months, the Financial Gazette has gathered.
The veteran politician is currently fighting the political battle of his life to keep his presidential ambition alive, but each week has brought with it fresh hurdles for him to overcome.
As the unrelenting war to succeed President Robert Mugabe grinds on, the throne seemed very much within Mnangagwa’s grasp when he dislodged long-time rival, former vice president Joice Mujuru. That has, however, changed as a group of younger politicians going by the moniker Generation 40 or G40 has bitterly opposed his presidential ambitions.
Within the ZANU-PF rank and file, Mnangagwa is fast losing influential backers.
Just last week, he had probably his fiercest supporter, Chris Mutsvangwa — leader of the war veterans — expelled from the party.
War veterans themselves, another of Mnangagwa’s key constituencies, are ba-dly isolated and divided, their influence in ZANU-PF having already waned.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, which was once a fervent campaigner for ZANU-PF and feared across the political spectrum, is now regarded just as a welfare organisation with President Robert Mugabe telling its members recently that they should either shape up or ship out.
The ZANU-PF Women’s League has also not been fighting in Mnangagwa’s corner for close to a year now and, having already formally demanded that they want one of the vice presidents to be a woman before the end of this year, are even more determined to achieve their goal.
“We are going ahead with our demand for the women’s quota. We hope by the time we get to the December conference, everything would have been sorted out,” said Sarah Mahoka, the league’s finance secretary who has led the anti-Mnangagwa crusade from the women’s front.
The ZANU-PF Youth League too, chaperoned by Makoni West Member of Parliament, Kudzai Chipanga, who took over from Pupurai Togarepi — another Mnangagwa ally who bit the dust — are ganging from another end.
Already, the Youth League has gotten rid of all Mnangagwa elements, with seven provincial chairpersons that supported him having been expelled along with some members of the league’s national executive.
Out of the country’s 10 political provinces, Mnangagwa’s allies have been vanquished in eight of them, with intense succession wars now being fought in Masvingo and Midlands provinces, where the Vice President dominates.
The lifting of the suspension on Jason Machaya, the former provincial chairman for the Midlands, a sworn Mnangagwa adversary, means that the Vice President’s problems are multiplying even in his own backyard.
Machaya had been suspended from the party in 2014 for being one of Mujuru’s coteries.
High-ranking ZANU-PF officials linked to G40 confided in the Financial Gazette that they want Mnangagwa out of the way by the time party members gather in Masvingo for their annual conference in December.
It is now emerging that G40 could be seeking to assert control of Parliament, which is critical in the succession matrix should anything happen to President Mugabe who is 92.
Political figures linked to G40 have been going around the provinces meeting MPs in what ZANU-PF insiders said was a move to strengthen the faction’s support base in the National Assembly.
ZANU-PF chief whip, Lovemore Matuke, a Mnangagwa ally, might be the next to fall.
Matuke said this week he was not involved in the meetings.
“The meetings are being organised for party leadership at provinces and I am not involved. If there is a role I am supposed to play, then I will be informed,” he said.
A party insider said once G40 has secured the necessary support from parliamentarians, it might decide to go for the kill and seek Mnangagwa’s removal from office taking advantage of a provision in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In most areas, the number of MPs on the G40 side appears overwhelmingly higher than those for Mnangagwa.
According to section 97 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, a joint Senate and National Assembly resolution passed by at least one half of their total membership may resolve the question whether or not the President, or a Vice President should be removed from office.
An official sympathetic to G40 said: “It’s a matter of consolidation of power considering that Parliament can initiate the process of removing a President or his deputy from office. So it’s a matter of exploring all possible avenues; one might eventually get you there.”
Following the explosive Masvingo meeting convened by President Mugabe recently, G40 hawks are now believed to be going for the kill, targeting Mnangagwa stalwarts, Shuvai Mahofa — the Provincial Affairs Minister and her Psychomotor counterpart, Josiah Hungwe.
The two are accused of destabilising the party and it is understood the provincial party chairman, Amasa Nenjana, has been instructed to come up with written accusations to be forwarded to the National Disciplinary Committee for consideration.
In a telephone interview from Masvingo, Nenjana confirmed this development saying power was bestowed on him to rein in all errant officials in the province, regardless of their positions.
“After the meeting with the President, we came back quietly and hoped people will respect what the President ordered us, which is to work together. But only at the weekend, I received reports that some people are coming from the provincial level to cause mayhem in the lower structures. They are taking instructions from some Politburo members here and I think it’s now time for me to take measures.
“I am a soldier. I received military training and I believe in military discipline, if the President says something, it must be followed. So I will make sure everyone tows the line. Whoever chooses a different path will be censured,” said Nenjana.
Mahofa declined to comment saying she did not want to discuss party issues with the press while Hungwe was not available.
The meeting with MPs from Mashonaland Central almost failed to take place after President Mugabe spent the better part of the day locked in a tense briefing over the alleged abduction by church zealots of an apostolic sect leader commonly known as Mudzidzi Wimbo.
“The President came in very late. We only met him for less than 20 minutes and we are expecting another meeting with him because people have got a lot to say,” said one of the MPs who declined to be identified.
ZANU-PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, who has been on a whirlwind tour of the provinces this week, however, said the on-going meetings were not meant to victimise anyone.
“The President is the leader of the party and we want him to meet with his constituencies so that he can hear their problems and concerns. We do not know where these theories are coming from,” he said.
Party insiders said Mnangagwa, beaten on the political front, was now concentrating on his government work and this is making him popular with the masses — the ultimate deciding factor in the fate of any politician.
One staunch Mnangagwa ally, while conceding G40 has an upper hand, defiantly said: “It’s a clever move, though, what G40 has done, but it has to be understood that one can win a battle and fail to win the war. It’s game on.”
“The Vice President is currently spearheading the development agenda which is amenable to the masses, for example the food security project inter alia. Check what ED (initials for Mnangagwa) is focusing on: Alleviating hunger, ways of increasing foreign direct investment and all the work he is doing in the judiciary which falls under his portfolio,” said the official.