By Sij Ncube
Harare, February 10, 2016 – President Robert Mugabe (pictured) has chided Zanu PF members for exposing the party’s infighting in the media as he prepared to preside over what analysts described as a highly explosive politburo on Wednesday.
Mugabe, speaking an hour before the start of the Zanu PF first politburo meeting in 2016, admonished internecine fights in the party, charging that it made MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai relevant in Zimbabwe’s politics at a time the veteran politician claimed has been relegated to the dust bins of politics.
“Party members should always toe the party line,” Mugabe said to hundreds of party supporters who thronged the Zanu PF headquarters.
“The opposition which relies on newspapers are having a party because of what is happening in Zanu PF. Members taking those issues to the private media, after Cabinet, I said that it must stop.”
“If you have a grievance, take the issue to the party; don’t go to the opposition papers. You are embarrassing yourself and the party. Those issues are discussed in the politburo. They are politburo members for that matter. Come and present yourself to the politburo not to cry from outside,” charged Mugabe amid deafening cheers from the party faithful.
Mugabe appeared to take a dig at factional leaders in Zanu PF who in recent weeks have taken to social and mainstream media attacking each other as the fight to succeed the nearly 92-year old leader reaches a crescendo.
Zanu PF, according to insiders, is split right in the middle between supporters of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and a group referred to as G40 in which politburo members Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere are said to be linked to.
The Mnangagwa camp is understood to be fronted by war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa and some former freedom fighters vehemently opposed to the political machinations of the G40, which also has in its ranks Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao.
Moyo, the former minister of information, Kasukuwere and Zhuwao have been involved in vicious wars in the media with the Mutsvangwa group which is allegedly drumming up support for Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe.
Security was water-tight at the Zanu PF headquarters Wednesday as the party prepared for the meeting with Politburo members, journalists and other party members, among them war veterans, being searched and frisked as they made way into “Shake-Shake” building amid fears of violence between rival supporters of camps in the faction-riddled party.
Mugabe urged Zanu PF members to shun violence after war veterans ahead of the politburo threatened to bar Moyo, Kasukuwere, Zhuwao and others linked to the G40 grouping.
The internal fights have sucked in Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba who has appeared to be rooting for Mnangagwa while attacking Moyo and other perceived members of G40.
Moments earlier, outspoken Zanu PF Women’s League official, Sarah Mahoka, nonchalantly challenged Mnangagwa to publicly declare his interest in the race to succeed President Mugabe.
Mahoka charged that people were using the Zanu PF Midlands perceived strongman to plant seeds of divisions in the party.
In front of the Zanu PF faithful she turned to Mnangagwa: “May you please reprimand those abusing your name but we appeal to you to declare your interests just as VP Mphoko has done.”
She also took a swipe at the state-controlled The Herald for allegedly claiming in its Wednesday edition that the Women’s League had organised the gathering as a demonstration against Mugabe.
Mahoka, who appeared to shoot from the hip, had no kind words for Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, who doubles up as the permanent secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.
Charamba has been exposed at belonging to Mnangagwa faction popularly known as Team Lacoste.
“We want to know if the President sent him to say what he said in the papers. Charamba should stop talking about things he does not know,” charged Mahoka. Charamba, who claimed in an interview he was speaking on behalf of Mugabe, claimed days were numbered in Zanu PF for “secessionists”.
He has been involved in verbal wars with his former boss in the ministry, Jonathan Moyo.
Both Charamba and Moyo arrived in the middle of Mugabe’s address. They missed Mahoka’s tirade.