VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday hit back at his Zanu PF attackers, saying he would not lose sleep or get distracted by accusations that he was fomenting divisions in the ruling party and plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa also said he was being targeted by his detractors in the ruling party, who were trying to drive a wedge between him and Mugabe because the Vice-President was a political force to reckon with and not that he was a “successionist”.
The Vice-President was reacting to Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene, who on Wednesday publicly accused him of clandestinely fronting a relentless plot to usurp Mugabe’s powers and running parallel government structures.
But Mnangagwa vowed that he would not be distracted by “barking dogs” and “sideshows”.
“Do I look like I care? I am not moved by those false allegations. They can continue barking, barking and barking, while I continue working for Zanu PF and my President,” he said during a tour of Drummond Farm in Darwendale just outside Norton, about 50km west of the capital Harare.
On Wednesday, Chimene twisted the knife into Mnangagwa, urging Mugabe to expel him from both the party and government – the Joice Mujuru way.
“If you cannot (fire him now), then we propose that you call for an extra-ordinary congress. We will help you to expel him,” Chimene thundered, describing an unfazed Mnangagwa as a problem animal that deserved to be culled.
Mnangagwa, who maintained his cool during the highly-charged meeting organised by a faction of the war veterans and hordes of bussed Zanu PF supporters reportedly to show solidarity with Mugabe’s leadership, yesterday added he was being targeted because he was a force to reckon with.
“If you see people coming after you even in football, it means you are the one in possession of the ball. But, that will not stop me from executing my duties as given to me by my appointing authority. In fact, those accusations and false allegations spur me on,” Mnangagwa said.
He added that he had been tasked by Mugabe to ensure food security for the country in the next four years.
“That is the work that I worry myself with and that is what I intend to deliver. This is why we have launched the command agriculture and I will not be moved by sideshows,” Mnangagwa said, adding Provincial ministers who failed to contribute towards the country’s food security could face the chop.
“We need to know the production levels of all provinces and know what they are contributing to the national gross domestic product. All ministers of State have to compete, then we sit down and evaluate their work and see who will remain on the job or who will be fired,” he said.
Following Chimene’s diatribe against Mnangagwa, Mugabe chose the middle-of-the-road approach, urging unity and vigilance among all party members to avoid being divided by what he called external enemies.
He urged Mnangagwa to publicly refute allegations levelled against him and cautioned Chimene and her colleagues against making rushed conclusions without checking facts.
“As leaders, it is also up to us to reject claims that we are behind some people. It is our duty as leaders to denounce these developments together outrightly without hesitation,” Mugabe said.
“Among the war veterans, let us not throw around allegations before we have the truth. Let’s not just rush to say this one is the leader or this one is doing this. Let’s have time and see and have wisdom because the enemy can even be planting this so that we are divided.”
In February, Hurungwe East lawmaker Sarah Mahoka made a similar frontal attack on Mnangagwa, labelling him a factionist leader angling to unseat Mugabe.
She also openly challenged Mnangagwa to explain his association with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association executive and Zanu PF youths claiming they were secretly campaigning for his candidature in the race to succeed 92-year-old Mugabe.
During the tour, Mnangagwa was shown around five hectares of mulato 11 brachiaria grass, a hybrid from a South African company aimed at improving availability of stock feed in the country.
Mnangagwa was accompanied by Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza and Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Faber Chidarikire during the tour.