HARARE – War veterans aligned to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa are said to be working feverishly to sabotage next month’s planned “million-man march” against the Midlands godfather by Zanu PF youths associated with the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40).
Manicaland Zanu PF youth deputy secretary for information and publicity, Passionate Dandajena, revealed in an interview with the Daily News yesterday that ex-combatants aligned to Team Lacoste were working hard to derail the march, just as the faction had allegedly done in the run-up to the 21st February Movement celebrations in Masvingo in February.
“Our efforts to fundraise for the march are being frustrated by a group of war veterans led by … (war veterans leader Christopher) Mutsvangwa. But we will not be derailed and will achieve our mission in spite of their opposition,” Dandajena said.
She said unlike previously, when the youths had only approached individuals and ministers that they felt were willing to support their programmes, this time they were approaching “everyone” — a move she said would also “expose” those who were against the march which they say is aimed at demonstrating support for President Robert Mugabe.
“We are approaching everyone and this will expose those who either run away from their offices when we approach them or find other funny excuses to refuse us help.
“There are many senior officials who always try to avoid supporting the youth league here,” Dandajena charged.
Another regional youth official was even more blunt, naming Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Agriculture minister Joseph Made as being among the bigwigs who were allegedly opposed to the march.
“Muchinguri leads this group and Chinamasa appears to be even busier than the president himself,” the youth league official, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, said.
“The million-man march is meant to offer support for the leadership of … Mugabe and not to de-campaign any individual.
“Some MPs are also not showing solidarity because they feel the march will be targeted at them, which is not the case at all,” Dandajena said when pressed to shed more light on the march.
She said they had budgeted $50 000 to transport almost 100 000 party officials from across the province to Harare for the march. They had also set up a committee to lead their fundraising efforts, which would include dinners and musical concerts.
Meanwhile, the youth league leaders in Harare said all was on track for the march in the capital, which is coming at a time when the ruling party is experiencing arguably its worst-ever internal ructions since it came to power in 1980.
Youth league national deputy secretary Kudzanai Chipanga told the Daily News yesterday that his executive would be heading to Mashonaland West this weekend to mobilise support for the marches, to show their backing for Mugabe.
He said members of the women’s league would also join the youths during the march in honour of Mugabe, who is the only leader that Zimbabwe has known since the country’s independence.
“After our visit to Mashonaland West tomorrow and Harare on Sunday, we are heading to Midlands mid next week, before heading to Matabeleland North and South next weekend,” Chipanga said.
You must remember that since we got rid of those elements that were fuelling factionalism within the youth league who include the likes of Godfrey Tsenengamu and others on suspension, there has been unity of purpose, so everyone is determined to show their support for the president.
“We have a mandate as the youth league to protect the president from both internal and external threats, so it is all systems go, although we are yet to come up with an exact date,” he added.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba was not available for comment yesterday to shed light on whether law enforcement agencies would clear the march.
But Chipanga was emphatic that this would not be a problem once the league formally advised authorities about their intentions.
“Once we agree on the exact dates, we will advise the police for clearance. What we have agreed on at the moment is that we will march in May, most likely in the first two weeks of the month, so we thought it would be prudent to approach the police only when we have the actual date,” Chipanga added.
Zanu PF insiders who have previously spoken to the Daily News have said the march will be punctuated by anti-Mnangagwa slogans, as well as placards denouncing his supposed key allies such as prominent war veterans leader Mutsvangwa and Victor Matemadanda.
“The march will put Team Lacoste in its proper place because the numbers will prove that the group has no support. Even in their supposed stronghold of Masvingo, more than 5 000 youths will participate in the march and those who thought that Mnangagwa had support will be put to shame because some of his supposed staunch supporters there will be with us,” a Zanu PF women’s league official said.
But the opposition MDC said derisively yesterday that the Zanu PF youth league march would be a “spectacular flop”.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the ruling party, ravaged by seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, had been shaken to its core by the unprecedented success of the MDC’s “mother of all demonstrations” last week.
“This is why one of Zanu PF’s factions is now desperately trying to mimic and emulate the success of our demo,” he said, adding that unlike Mugabe’s party, the MDC was popular with the people and that it had the advantage of its charismatic leader, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Thus, the so-called million-man march will be a spectacular flop. We also know that Zanu PF will force people to attend this march. Shops and vending stalls will be forcibly closed down and people will be commandeered to participate in the so-called march against their will.
“Both the main factions within Zanu PF, the G40 and Team Lacoste, lack grassroots support.
“In a free and fair election, the MDC will wallop both factions even if they work together,” he said.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also dismissed the planned demonstration as “a march to nowhere”.
“The march is targeted at Mnangagwa by the G40 and they are trying to usher (First Lady) Grace Mugabe as the successor.
“It’s sad that the youths are trying to use marriage to transfer power,” PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume said, urging the youths to put their energy into improving their lot instead of engaging in useless marches.
“They have failed to revive the economy and it’s very surprising that the youths are planning to march in support of the person who has destroyed the country’s economy,” Mafume added.