The boycott by workers of the governmentorganised Workers’ Day rally in Harare on Monday, at which embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was the guest of honour, has opened the Midlands godfather to fresh attacks from his Zanu PF enemies.
Ruling party officials linked to Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks, the Generation 40 (G40) — who are rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe — told the Daily News yesterday that the fact that even Zanu PF supporters had shunned the May Day commemorations “confirmed that Ngwena (Mnangagwa) is unelectable, as he has no social base”. At the same time, the beleaguered Midlands godfather’s supporters claimed that the shunning of the event by workers was “an act of sabotage by the G40 who are hellbent on embarrassing Ngwena”
The renewed onslaught on Mnangagwa, who is nicknamed “The Crocodile” on account of his alleged ruthlessness, came after the VP suffered the indignity of addressing a virtually empty Rufaro Stadium, after government illadvisedly sought to hijack this year’s May Day commemorations for its own ends. “While it is a fact that the country’s workforce has dwindled over the years, it is shocking that the stadium was empty even after State media worked hard to publicise the fact that the VP would be the guest speaker. “Where were his supporters? Where was Mbare? I think (Mbare MP Tendai ) Savanhu would have pulled a bigger crowd than what we saw and that is why some of us are worried at the prospect of having someone like him, who clearly has no grassroots support, dreaming to be our presidential candidate for 2018. “That is also the reason why some of us are opposed to the machinations of Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction) who do not appear to appreciate the obvious fact that no one, not even Zanu PF members want their godfather,” a Zanu PF central committee member linked to the G40 said.
However, war veterans loyal to the VP, who spoke to the Daily News yesterday accused the G40, and the “Zanu PF commissariat in particular” of sabotaging Mnangagwa. The spokesperson of a faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) that is loyal to Mnangagwa, Douglas Mahiya, said given that this year’s Workers’ Day activities had been hosted by government, it should have been incumbent upon Zanu PF to mobilise its supporters for Monday’s event.
That is the role of the party commissariat, but they slept on duty as they went AWOL (absent without official leave) instead of mobilising people to come to Rufaro. “We know that they always bus people from far afield to hoodwink the president into thinking that all is well and that people are happy even when it is clear that they are not. We have said it again and again that something is terribly wrong with the Zanu PF commissariat,” Mahiya said. He also said another reason for the low turnout at Rufaro Stadium was because war veterans were “being sidelined both in the party (Zanu PF) and in government”. “We have not been given space to participate in the activities of the party.
For a long time now, we have been relegated to the periphery of both Zanu PF and the government, and that is why you see things are going awfully wrong in government as well,” he said. But the G40aligned Zanu PF officials refuted this “with utter contempt”, saying that the reality was that Mnangagwa was not only “just disliked generally, but also feared all round”. “This dislike and fear began when he headed the CIO in the early 1980s, a period during which thousands of innocent civilians were killed in Matabeleland and the Midlands. This continued even in 2008 when the MDC was a major political force,” one of them countered. Afghanistanbased political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said the boycott of Mnangagwa’s event was “a manifestation of Zanu PF’s factional and succession wars that have divided the party to the point of nearly destroying it”.
“It is difficult to rule out sabotage of the event because there are so many people in top positions who are being propped up by patronage and not their social base. “Zanu PF is known for forcing people to attend rallies … so if this rally had the blessing of the First Family and the party, people would have been frogmarched to the event. This is another clear manifestation of divisions within the party,” he said. Recently, Mugabe’s former trusted aide, Didymus Mutasa, dismissed the chances of Mnangagwa succeeding the nonagenarian, also saying he was “simply unelectable”. When asked then who he thought could succeed Mugabe, Mutasa said only Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader, Joice Mujuru, had “the right qualities to lead Zimbabwe”.