ZANU PF Masvingo provincial executive is reportedly set to be the first to endorse Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as President Robert Mugabe’s official number two ahead of the party’s December conference, NewsDay has established.
Party insiders told NewsDay yesterday that officials loyal to Mnangagwa were not leaving anything to chance and were using the current district restructuring exercises to pass resolutions to be presented at the annual conference to be held in Victoria Falls.
An official said the resolutions passed during the inter-district meetings were unanimous that Mnangagwa was number two in the Zanu PF pecking order and that anyone in the province opposed to this position had no place in the ruling party structures.
He said a provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) meeting has been called for this Saturday to finalise and
endorse the resolutions passed by the districts for presentation during the December 7 to 13 conference.
Well-placed sources told NewsDay that Saturday’s meeting will endorse the presidium, with Mugabe at the top, Mnangagwa second and Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko third.
“Masvingo province will vociferously reject the imposition of other candidates who are not in the presidium to threaten to override Mugabe’s deputies,” another source said.
Sources told NewsDay that the Mnangagwa’s faction was now in a do-or-die campaign at grassroots level ahead of the conference after realising a faction dubbed Generation 40 (G40) was using First Lady Grace Mugabe to give them an edge in the race to succeed the 91-year-old leader.
“The resolutions will effectively send a message to the First Lady that Masvingo has rejected her as the President’s successor. We support the decisions of last year’s congress and this means Mnangagwa is in line to succeed the President,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
“We only recognise the First Lady as the President’s wife and as head of the women’s league and nothing more than that.”
Zanu PF is currently embroiled in serious factional fights pitting a faction linked to Mnangagwa and G40, a group of party Young Turks said to be led by Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao.
Quoting Amilcar Cabral, one of Africa’s foremost anti-colonial leaders, Mnangagwa warned: “Our struggle has reached a stage where we must look into each other’s eyes”, a clear indication the gloves were off in the ruling party.
But Masvingo acting provincial chairperson, Ezra Chadzamira, who is also Masvingo West MP yesterday, denied the province was coming up with resolutions to curtail Grace.
“We will be making resolutions regarding the state of the opposition in the districts and ZimAsset,” he said, adding the current meetings were aimed at introducing district leaders to the provincial leadership.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said all provinces would come up with their own resolutions.
“I can’t speak on behalf of provinces. We don’t decide on what issues the province should resolve,” he said.
But sources maintained that although Mnangagwa and Mphoko were equal according to the party’s constitution, Masvingo widely held the view that the latter was far junior to the former, who is touted as the front runner to succeed Mugabe.
“Even (former acting provincial chairman Paradzai) Chakona was fired because he was now aligned to Grace,” a source said.
Grace was supposed to address a rally in Masvingo last Saturday, but did not show up.
“She could have failed to come after receiving intelligence that Masvingo was all in support of Mnangagwa,” another source said.
Elsewhere, youths from Mashonaland West aligned to the Mnangagwa camp have joined the war, accusing G40 of abusing Grace’s name to intimidate party members.
The same was also echoed by a pro-Mnangagwa Harare youth group, Zimbabwe Youth Action Platform, which recently threatened to manhandle ministers disrespecting Mnangagwa.
At a provincial inter-district youth conference in Chinhoyi on Saturday, the youths openly refused to chant slogans associated with Grace, opting for Mnangagwa’s “Pasi Nemhandu” (Down with traitors) catchphrase.
Lewis Matutu, the national youth secretary for administration, claimed there was a plot to embarrass Mnangagwa at the party’s December conference.
He warned of a bare-knuckle fight at the conference if anyone dared humiliate Mnangagwa.
The youths accused Kasukuwere of abusing $1 million allocated to the Mashonaland West youth fund. They also attacked Zhuwao and Moyo and urged Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to investigate the three ministers.
“Speculative ministers who are agents of destruction who convene meetings in hotels, their days are numbered,” Matutu warned.