ZANU PF’s factional fights neared boiling point at the weekend when war veterans sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa threw down the gauntlet and declared that there was nothing wrong in the Midlands godfather succeeding President Robert Mugabe.
The war veterans also challenged the G40, whom they described as “traitors and treasure-hunters”, to provide police with irrefutable evidence that Mnangagwa’s political ambitions were a threat to Mugabe’s security, or risk being arrested for causing alarm and despondency.
They accused Zanu PF commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, Makonde MP Kindness Paradza, Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira and women’s league finance secretary, Sarah Mahoka of raising false alarm over Mugabe’s security, as part of a wider plot to dethrone and replace him with “their G40 stooge without liberation war credentials”.
Addressing a war veterans’ Mashonaland West provincial meeting in Chinhoyi on Saturday, Runesu Blessed Geza, the Sanyati MP (Zanu PF) and secretary for business development in the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association, said Mnangagwa was entitled to succeed Mugabe and there was nothing sinister about that.
“If Mnangagwa succeeds President Mugabe, then what’s wrong with that? Is he not a war veteran. Did he say he wants to succeed the President today?” he asked.
“We resolved long back that President Robert Mugabe will only be succeeded by a person, who was involved in the liberation, and no one can dispute or attempt to change that.”
This came as Mugabe addressed a campaign rally in Gutu on Friday, where he threatened to boot out war veterans from Zanu PF, accusing them of fanning factionalism.
The G40 faction, believed to be fronted by First Lady Grace Mugabe, now appears to have won Mugabe’s heart and has lately been subtly pushing for some Zanu PF members, including war veterans in its quest for leadership renewal.
But war veterans have vowed to scuttle the plot, describing themselves as Zanu PF stockholders as opposed to the G40 members, whom Geza described as “treasure-hunters” with no history in the party.
He said if Kasukuwere and his group had tangible evidence against Mnangagwa and his loyalists, they should report the matter to police.
“We have CIOs [Central Intelligence Organisation operatives], military police, ZRP [Zimbabwe Republic Police] ready to deal with such security matters, but we have Mahoka, Kasukuwere and company wanting to tell us that there are people who want to kill the President. The police must get full information on the security threat on the President from those who claim to know better . . . they must be held accountable for their statements. If they fail to provide tangible evident, they must be arrested. It’s a serious offence,” Geza said.
Mnangagwa has for long been touted as Mugabe’s heir-apparent, but of late Grace has emerged as a dark house for the country’s top job, although both have denied harbouring such ambitions.
Paradza courted the ire of war veterans when he posted a message on social media platforms last week, describing them as “coup plotters”, while Mahoka and Kasukuwere angered the former freedom fighters when the former publicly challenged Mnangagwa at Zanu PF headquarters in February to declare his ambitions to land the President’s post.
Kasukuwere yesterday declined to comment over the matter, as Mahoka remained unapologetic over her remarks.
“I am not afraid of anyone. If they want to fight me, I will be at Parliament tomorrow (today). They are women, they cannot challenge me. I see Geza everyday in Parliament. If he has an issue with me, he knows where to find me.
“I have never said President Mugabe is under threat. He is only under threat from those war veterans who make unnecessary noise on issues they do not understand. They are not real war veterans, because real war veterans, who fought for this country, would never say such a thing.”
Mupfumira and Paradza were not reachable for comment.
Meanwhile, two war veterans from Midlands province died on Saturday when their hired bus hit a stray beast and overturned in Filabusi.
Zanu PF Midlands provincial spokesperson, Cornelius Mupereri said the war veterans’ leadership was coming from a meeting in Matabeleland South province.
“The accident happened near Filabusi. The war veterans are carrying out report-back meetings in provinces after their meeting with President Robert Mugabe. Yesterday (Saturday), they were in Matabeleland South and were involved in an accident on their way back,” he said.
The accident happened a day after the death of Espinah Nhari, secretary for administration in the women’s league who died in a head-on crash in Kadoma.