The unrelenting pressure that is being exerted on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa within President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF is expected to reach a climax in December when the ruling party holds its annual conference in Masvingo.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that the Zanu PF women’s league, strongly backed by the former liberation movement’s youth wing, would “leave no stone unturned” to ensure that a woman was part of the three-person party presidium by the time the Masvingo get-together ends.
Plain-spoken Zanu PF women’s league’s secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka — a rabid critic of Mnangagwa — also confirmed that women were champing at the bit to see one of their own become vice president again before the end of this year, as had been agreed at the party’s conference last year that was held at the resort town of Victoria Falls.
“(Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Patrick) Chinamasa is at work as we speak to amend the Zanu PF constitution in line with the resolutions made in Victoria Falls, and he should be done sooner rather than later so that the party can definitely have a vice president coming from the women’s league,” Mahoka said.
While Mahoka could not be drawn into revealing whether the women’s league, which is led by powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe, had already come up with a name to join the party’s presidium, she was adamant that the matter “cannot be delayed any further because the year is coming to an end already”.
“He (Chinamasa) knows that this matter has to be finalised as soon as possible. That is why his team is working on it. We have not yet sat down to discuss who we want (to join presidium) but should that happen, we will let you know.
“We are disciplined and organised women whose main concern in all this is to see stability in the party and that the country moves forward peacefully,” Mahoka added cryptically.
Repeated efforts by the Daily News to get a comment from Chinamasa on the progress that the party had made so far to fulfil the Victoria Falls resolutions for a woman to once again become part of the presidium were unsuccessful as he was not picking up his phone.
But a youth league bigwig also reiterated that the party was bracing itself for a woman vice president in line with the Victoria Falls resolution — which virtually all Zanu PF members agree is targeted at the embattled Mnangagwa’s scalp.
One of President Robert Mugabe’s current two deputies will have to drop from the presidium to accommodate a woman, as was rightly the case before (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru was booted out of the party in 2014.
“As to who is going to give way, your guess is as good as mine, as the party will decide. However, on our part as the youth league, we will fight to see to it that this noble cause does not compromise the Unity Accord of 1987 in an way,” the official said, hinting that Mnangagwa was the likely loser.
“We are tired of Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa and his allies) because they are holding our president to ransom and that is why we want the conference in Masvingo to become elective.
“It is permissible and constitutional that a conference can be elective as long as it has been directed by the central committee. It will sit as an extra-ordinary session of the national people’s conference, which will allow us to get rid of these successionists” another youth league official said.
Zanu PF’s other vice president is Phelekezela Mphoko who comes from the Zapu wing of the party, and who has been said to belong to the influential party faction known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, which is intensely opposed to the idea of Mnangagwa ever succeeding Mugabe.
The push to deal with Mnangagwa once and for all at the December conference is back in the fore at a time that the Midlands godfather has lately been under the cosh in the party for allegedly working fervently to stampede Mugabe out of power before the nonagenarian’s current term ends in 2018.
The plot to oust Mnangagwa gathered steam in recent weeks after war veterans led by garrulous former Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa not only made it abundantly clear that they wanted the Midlands godfather to take over from Mugabe, but also later served divorce papers on Mugabe.
This attracted the ire of party bigwigs and the G40 camp, with Manicaland Provincial minister Mandi Chimene last month openly imploring Mugabe to either fire Mnangagwa immediately or call for an extra-ordinary congress where the party would deal with the VP, nicknamed Ngwena (crocodile) for his alleged political ruthlessness.
In her no-holds-barred blitzkrieg on the VP, Chimene bluntly accused Mnangagwa and his close allies of plotting to unseat Mugabe.
“There are now two governments in power and we don’t know for how long we are going to continue with parallel structures where some ministers don’t report to the president.
“So we have said lets go for an extra-ordinary congress and if it’s expensive we can just do it right away and have you line up with your supporters and see who has the people,” Chimene charged.