ZANU PF legal affairs secretary and one of the party’s gurus reportedly angling to take over the State Presidency, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has sensationally claimed that he is President Robert Mugabe’s most trusted lieutenant, adding this explained why he had always been tasked to tackle the party’s “hot issues”.
Addressing slightly over 1 000 supporters drawn from Kwekwe’s 28 Zanu PF districts on Saturday, Mnangagwa said he had always been on Mugabe’s side since Independence eve when then Prime Minister-elect extended the hand of reconciliation to dethroned Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and his deputy, David Smith.
Mnangagwa’s claims came as Zanu PF heads for its crunch elective congress in December with his loyalists declaring him suitable material for the Vice-Presidency. Political analysts, however, described the statements as a calculated move to sway votes in his favour as he plots to unseat Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Said Mnangagwa:“Even after we were hit by sanctions and our dollar was hit by the whites to the point that it became useless, the President appointed a five-member committee which was led by me so that we could craft our way out of the mess.”
It is that committee, Mnangagwa said, that recommended the adoption of the multi-currency regime in 2008 and later announced by acting Minister of
Finance Patrick Chinamasa.
Mnangagwa has also been linked to the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres which were allegedly committed by the military and other State security agents on Mugabe’s orders.
The Zanu PF legal guru was then State Security minister.
Mnangagwa is reportedly plotting to wrest the Vice-Presidency from Mujuru at the party’s congress in December. Already, Mujuru has been on the receiving end of smear campaigns from the State media and First Lady Grace Mugabe as the congress dates draw nigh. Grace has also subtly endorsed Mnangangwa to take over the hot seat.
The Zanu PF politburo has not yet announced election guidelines, and as such candidates cannot openly campaign for posts of their choice.
Mnangagwa said he began acting as Mugabe’s confidante on Independence eve in April 1980.
“He (Mugabe) asked me to call Ian Smith for a meeting the night before we took over power in the transition and he was to come with his vice who was called David Smith.
“I was also tasked to call all the (Rhodesian) generals and the State security chiefs who we were going to meet separately from Smith.
“I opened the gate for Ian and his vice when they came, I will not tell you what time it was and they came in. It was just President Mugabe and myself at the other side and the two Smiths on the other side.”
According to Mnangagwa, Mugabe said to Smith: “There is a huge white population in this country and this population supports you and is behind you. So I want you to appeal to that community not to fear to accept change in this country.
The majority, who are the black people, are now taking over.”
He said they later met with Rhodesian army-general Peter Walls, Air Force boss Air Marshal Michael McLaren, Police Commissioner Peter Alum and Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Ken Flower, whom Mugabe asked to join his command.
Flower, he said, was tasked to lead the State security department, while reporting to his understudy, Mnangagwa.
“I saw it happening with my own eyes, step by step while I sat next to President Mugabe,” he said.
Mnangagwa also revealed that the Zanu PF politburo last Friday evening agreed to increase the number of its central committee members from 245 to 300.
“We agreed on a new structure of the central committee after I proposed that we should have 300 people in the central committee instead of 245 and that proposal was adopted,” said Mnangagwa.
He said Mugabe would be allowed to nominate 10 members of the central committee one from each province, while 94 seats will be filled by proportional representation based on performance during elections.