ZANU PF’s brutal scrap for power has reached “dangerously worrying levels” after Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander General Constantino Chiwenga made a chilling threat to members of Zanu PF’s G40 faction, analysts warned yesterday.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Chiwenga told State media at the weekend ahead of the Heroes Day commemorations today that leading figures in the faction that is pushing for First Lady Grace Mugabe to take over from ailing President Robert Mugabe that they “must not make the mistake of crossing the Rubicon”.
In a thinly-veiled attack on Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene, Chiwenga said: “We were reading mapepa paakatanga kuti ‘when you want to destroy Zanu PF you need to do it from within’.
“They told us they will have youths who will take over. Was it not written? You think we were blind to it? Is it not happening now? People must just eat quietly,” Chiwenga warned. The wish to “destroy Zanu PF from within” has always been attributed to Moyo, who made the infamous statements when he was expelled from the ruling party in 2005.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said Chiwenga’s comments could spew hatred for those linked to the G40 faction amid reports that the military and war veterans were backing Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to succeed 92-year-old Mugabe.
“Chiwenga shows disrespect and utter disdain for the G40 faction led by First Lady Grace. The message Chiwenga is sending to the rank and file of the military is that, G40 is a threat to the country’s stability and the danger warning signs must be flashing for those fronting it.
“The scramble for power will not be a walk in the park and we are heading for what could be dangerously interesting times. The battle lines have been drawn. An ideological challenge to G40 by the military is dangerous particularly in a situation of economic problems like we have,” he said.
Ruhanya added: “The security apparatus has the decisive voting bloc in the Zanu PF power dynamics and stop the authoritarian erosion we currently see. Chiwenga’s utterances are a direct message to the establishment that the security apparatus does not support the same faction President Mugabe is trying to prop-up”.
Moyo is believed to be the brains behind G40, a faction of Zanu PF that has allegedly received tacit approval from Mugabe in its bid to frustrate Mnangagwa’s push to replace the nonagenarian strongman.
Moyo is also accused of having deserted the war to pursue his studies in the United States, and Chiwenga twisted the knife in.
“Many of those who did not make it to Zimbabwe were the real fighters and some of the celebrated cowards who only saw the border when going into Mozambique and coming back at Independence and never during combat, they are now claiming the glory,” he said.
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said the die was cast and Zimbabwe could be heading for the precipice.
“We are now in the midst of a real crisis. The implosion is now real, almost complete and we just hope this is not the beginning of bloodshed. The full impact of this implosion is yet to manifest itself,” Mandaza said.
Chiwenga also had a word for Chimene, who publicly attacked Mnangagwa three weeks ago and admitted she could have been high on marijuana.
“This nonsense of someone who was at a refugee camp or was a cleaner moving around telling people that he or she fought in the struggle is just that — nonsense. Wakarwa hondo kupi? (where did you operate from?)
“People can smoke marijuana, it is within their rights. Even if it’s to do with traditional spirits, go ahead and smoke — (just) don’t disturb us because we have lost thousands of innocent sons and daughters,” Zimbabwe’s military supremo said.
Chiwenga’s chilling remarks came shortly after the High Court and War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube ordered Chimene to stop masquerading as a war veterans leader. Ruhanya also warned that Mugabe was playing a dangerous political roulette which could consume him.
“By allowing the public humiliation and abuse of senior leaders by junior officials in the party, Mugabe is playing with fire, condoning indiscipline as long as it is not aimed at him.
Mugabe is encouraging lawlessness and it will consume him,” Ruhanya said.
With Mugabe having accused the military of dabbling in Zanu PF factional fights as the tussle for control reaches boiling point, Chiwenga had a ready response.
“We are apolitical to the extent that we leave you to do what you like, but the moment you threaten the sovereignty of the country, then you threaten that very Constitution.
“Please don’t expect us to sit and watch. We are there to protect the people and that’s what we are saying and will do,” the ZDF chief said. – NewsDay