As the Zanu PF faction opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe cranks up the political heat on him — the warring party’s ambitious Young Turks, known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, plan to mount a massive demonstration in Harare against the embattled Midlands godfather.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said although the march would be organised under the guise of the bitterly-divided party’s women and youth leagues showing their continued support for Mugabe, its real target would be Mnangagwa.
“You can bet your last dollar that this won’t be a march for Gushungo (Mugabe), this is about Ngwena (Mnangagwa) and how he has to be eliminated at all costs, just as they tried to do earlier in the year when the women’s league organised a similar demo.
“Ngwena’s (Zanu PF) enemies are working hard to ensure that he is dropped from Cabinet. So, while publicly the youths and women are not naming Ngwena, it is an open secret that their march is targeted at him, on the false claim that he wants to topple the president from power,” a senior party official linked to Team Lacoste said.
The mass action, it is said, will be reminiscent of the “one million man march against sanctions” that firebrand former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda organised in 2007 when he was still a darling of Zanu PF bigwigs.
Tough-talking women’s league national treasurer, Sarah Mahoka — who publicly humiliated Mnangagwa in February this year — confirmed the march, telling the Daily News yesterday that the league’s members would come out in full force to join hands with party youths in the planned demonstration.
“As the women’s league, we believe that wherever you see the youth league, we are always there because they are the vanguard of the party and what they are planning is a noble idea because there are some war veterans who have taken to intimidating our president.
“We will not tolerate anyone who plays around with our leader and the First Lady. Anyone who touches them will have touched a raw nerve and we will not spare him. Anofira mahara (such people risk losing their lives for nothing),” Mahoka declared.
Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF foes accuse him of “overweening ambition” and leading the Team Lacoste faction that is allegedly working feverishly to oust Mugabe from power.
Some of Mnangagwa’s supposed key allies, such as prominent war veterans Christopher Mutsvangwa and Victor Matemadanda, have given grist to the allegations by appearing to question Mugabe’s actions in recent months — and seemingly casting doubts over the nonagenarian’s continuing capacity to control Zanu PF.
Weighing in on the subject of the planned march, ruling party deputy national youth league secretary, Kudzanai Chipanga, says the league will, during the first week of May, mobilise at least 100 000 young people from each of the country’s 10 provinces to “invade Harare to assure the president that we are 150 percent behind him and that he should never lose sleep or be intimidated by anyone”.
“We have individuals in Zanu PF who are saying rubbish things, anticipating …Mugabe’s death, for them to take power. He (Mugabe) was elected by the people and, therefore, no one will ever dare to remove him,” Chipanga said recently while addressing Mashonaland East youths in Marondera.
Speaking in an interview with Japanese journalists on Monday, Mugabe himself made it abundantly clear that he would not be stampeded out of power, adding that he would stand for the 2018 elections when he would be a very mature 94.
Asked directly if he would stand for elections in 2018, Mugabe said: “At the moment I am the president. Do you see me as not fit? Why not contest two years later?
“My people will want me to be a candidate and they have already nominated me as a candidate for 2018,” the increasingly-frail nonagenarian said.
Meanwhile, Mahoka has also accused some former freedom fighters led by Mutsvangwa of hiding behind the “cloak of war veterans’ welfare” to push for a meeting with Mugabe, albeit supposedly harbouring sinister motives.
However, she said, Zanu PF — and especially the women’s league — would never allow itself to be dictated to by an affiliate association.
“We cannot have our president removed by an affiliate association, not in our lifetime. We will stand together with the youths to defend him, to defend the revolution and its legacy.
“They are now talking about the welfare of war veterans because they want to then go about abusing his (Mugabe’s) name, lying that he gave them tasks to do.
“We know they are desperate for recognition, that even if they get just a handshake from him or the first lady, they will use that to intimidate people saying they are close to them,” Mahoka charged.
The march will also come at a time that Team Lacoste-aligned war veterans are pushing Mugabe to take action against their rivals in the G40 faction — with the VP’s allies accusing the G40 of working to destroy Zanu PF from within.