Leaks from the ruling Zanu PF’s recent central committee deliberations indicate that Emmerson Mnangagwa, President Robert Mugabe’s deputy, threatened to crush his internal enemies for soiling his name in ongoing succession fights.
Mnanagagwa reportedly referred to his foes as cockroaches and warned that he would destroy them without consulting Mugabe.
Members of a fierce rival faction dubbed Generation 40 said to be coordinated by Higher and Tertiary Education minister, Jonathan Moyo, and Local Government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, has hinted that Mnangagwa leads a faction seeking to remove Mugabe from power.
The G40 grouping which has in the past enjoyed Grace Mugabe’s and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s support has challenged Mnangagwa to pronounce his position regarding war veterans.
The war veterans recently backed Mnangagwa as a successor to Mugabe and vowed that those who resisted it would face their wrath.
This prompted Mugabe to last week threaten a military crackdown on the ex-combatants that he described as dissidents.
However, Mnangagwa is said to have come out guns blazing last Thursday during a central committee convention.
Unnamed sources quoted by the independent media claimed that members of G40 took turns at a closed door session to attack Mnangagwa as they have publicly done in the past, accusing him of trying to topple Mugabe before the 2018 general elections.
In response, Mnangagwa reportedly dismissed the allegations as baseless as he had spent a long time guarding his boss during the war.
I spent over 16 years sleeping outside protecting this man (pointing at Mugabe) while he slept on a bed. I cannot then turn around and plan against him,” Mnangagwa said, according to media reports.
He then accused his detractors of a smear campaign and threatened to crush them.
“I know there are mapete (cockroaches), who might want to fathom the idea of trying to remove him (Mugabe). My job is to defend him and if I catch one of the cockroaches, then I will crush them before informing the President because it is part of my job,” said Mnangagwa.
Jonathan Moyo in 2006 called on Mugabe to step down, saying he had become a security threat and a burden to the country, but is now firmly backing his continued stay in office, claiming he was misguided when he made the utterances.
Grace reportedly applauded Mnangagwa for his candid talk, in what could indicate a shift away from the embattled G40 group.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo declined to discuss the matter.
Junior party members, among them Mandi Chimene, the Manicaland provincial minister, and Sarah Mahoka, the Mashonaland West finance secretary, have publicly humiliated Mnangagwa and insinuated that he was sending war veterans to belittle Mugabe.
The vice president has for long been linked to a plot to succeed Mugabe. He played an active role in the removal from Zanu PF of Joice Mujuru who he replaced as deputy at the party’s congress in December 2014.
In 2004, he was demoted to the shady ministry of Rural Amenities after being named as the ultimate beneficiary of a botched palace coup and Mujuru took the vice presidency that he coveted.
Factional jostling to succeed Mugabe is intensifying as the president, now 92, faces increasing frailty even though he has indicated that he wants another term at the 2018 elections.