ZANU PF factional fights were apparent at the National Heroes Acre yesterday, as Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa appeared to ignore his counterpart, Phelekezela Mphoko, while war veterans leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa openly snubbed Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
While President Robert Mugabe talked about unity during the burial of national heroines Victoria Chitepo and Vivian Mwashita, factional undercurrents played themselves out.
Mphoko arrived first and took his seat. When Mnangagwa arrived minutes later, he greeted Mphoko’s wife, but then passed his counterpart without a word.
For his part, Mphoko appeared engrossed in one of the two obituary booklets distributed as part of the funeral proceedings.
In another incident, Mutsvangwa openly snubbed Moyo and went on to greet the latter’s wife in an apparent show of bad blood.
Asked to comment on the incident, Mutsvangwa did not mince his words: “This is a venerated placed and should be respected, as such. I have no time for war deserters. He (Moyo) wants to sponsor State capture in Zimbabwe, but we will not allow it.
“He should be thankful to President Mugabe’s hand of reconciliation that now allows him access to places like this one.” Mutsvangwa was referring to claims Moyo deserted the liberation war front to pursue studies in the United States.
Moyo was not available for comment.
Zanu PF is torn between two distinct factions jostling for control of the ruling party as Mugabe’s succession race hots up, although the veteran politician has declared he has no immediate plans to leave active politics and office.
Mnangagwa, seen as heir apparent to Mugabe’s throne, is locked in a bitter fight with a group
of Young Turks going under the banner G40, which is believed to have First Lady Grace Mugabe in its ranks. Mphoko is said to be part of the G40 faction.
Mutsvangwa has previously described Moyo as a “Johnny come lately” to Zanu PF and yesterday reiterated his call for Mugabe to get rid of G40 members.
“We are on the same page with our patron (Mugabe),” he said.
“We are one and whatever we asked of him will be done. We will continue to engage in the same way with respect and for the good of our party. These heroines we are laying to rest here would want a disciplined party that sticks to its ideology and not be watered down by people who have no idea what it took to dislodge a brutal enemy and organise a party in the middle of the bush.”
As usual , Mugabe devoted most part of his speech to lecturing on the history of the liberation struggle.