By Sij Ncube
Masvingo, February 28, 2016 – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Saturday once again sided with the Generation 40, a Grace Mugabe aligned Zanu PF faction tussling for party control with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste ahead of Mugabe’s highly anticipated exit from politics.
He was addressing thousands of party faithful who thronged the Great Zimbabwe Monuments on Saturday afternoon for his 92nd birthday bash.
The veteran leader also slammed some party youths who have openly grumbled against Grace’s divisive approach to party politics during what many find to be her campaign provincial rallies.
Mugabe said he was disturbed Grace was being singled out for abuse by a section of the Zanu PF youth wing.
“…The President’s wife is being abused by youths, being shown on Aljazeera, being placed on record, being sung about! For whose attention are they doing all this,” Mugabe said in Shona.
Grace has infuriated some party members for her public rants on politicians linked to Mnangagwa, something that has been followed with the controversial ouster of few rivals within the beleagured party.
Mugabe’s comments follow cases in which party youths sympathetic to Mnangagwa have openly ranted against the First Lady for allegedly sowing divisions within the party.
Youth League deputy secretary Kudzanai Chipanga has also been targeted by the youths for allegedly threatening war veterans.
In comments probably aimed at that, Mugabe also said a war veteran was an entity just as equal to any Zimbabwean, an assertion that has been pushed by his wife, and G40 members such as cabinet ministers Saviour Kasukuwere and Jonathan Moyo.
The three are under fire for undermining war veterans, a constituency Mugabe has long singled out for special treatment.
War veterans are angry the younger party politicians were not showing respect towards them.
But Mugabe said the need for discipline in the party should apply to both war veterans and the youths.
He said the former liberators must not bully those who never fought the war.
“Now together we must find our way to the problems that we face together. They would have a lot to learn from the war veterans because they are more experienced, they are more mature, they fought the war but I don’t want them to be bullied. Izvo kwete,” Mugabe said.
The Zimbabwean leader also praised party youth leader Kudzanai Chipanga, a G40 member who is also accused of belittling war veterans.
“Chipanga is deputy to Cde (Pupurayi) Togarepi but quite dynamic. Haasi wekutamba naye (you don’t mess around with him),” Mugabe said.
“He has been accused of threatening war veterans and we were just wondering that since we are also war veterans, is it the case that he also threatened us. He never did that. How could he have done so!”
Mugabe also joked about Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere’s continued purges on internal rivals.
The veteran leader came to his party accompanied by members of his immediate family who included his visibly pregnant first born daughter, Bona and her in-laws.
The rain-drenched event was also attended by top party politicians, cabinet ministers and foreign diplomats.