The battle of attrition raging within President Robert Mugabe’s faction-ridden Zanu PF is getting uglier by the day, with the ruling party faction opposed to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa claiming yesterday that those rallying behind the Midlands godfather were being led like “lambs to the slaughter” without realising it.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News, the minister of State for Manicaland, Mandi Chimene — who recently undressed Mnangagwa in public — also said she and other Zanu PF bigwigs linked to the party faction known as the Generation 40 (G40) group were unmoved by perceived threatening utterances emanating from the military.
The forthright Chimene added further that moves by “certain elements” in the deeply-divided ruling party to silence her and others who shared her sentiments on the former liberation movement’s deadly succession ructions would be in vain.
This comes after Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, was quoted in State media last weekend questioning the war credentials of some Zanu PF bigwigs and former freedom fighters.
“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 participate in the war?),” Chiwenga thundered in a statement that was widely interpreted as directed at Zanu PF bigwigs such as Chimene and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
“Vanhu ngavapute mbanje dzavo zvakanaka, hazvirambidzwi. Kana ririshave rekumusha kwenyu it’s ok, putayi ikoko — don’t disturb us because we lost thousands of innocent sons and daughters,” Chiwenga added in apparent direct reference to Chimene who had joked that some people thought that she was high on marijuana when she attacked Mnangagwa.
Asked whether she had been a mere cleaner during the liberation struggle as had also been insinuated in Chiwenga’s interview with State media, Chimene hit back saying it would be folly for any war veteran or Zanu PF leader to think that they knew everyone who had participated in the war of liberation, including in what capacity people had served the struggle.
“If people don’t know what happened during the war maybe they did not really take part in it. The fact is that there was no one camp and neither was there one gate. We had different camps and so we could not all know each other.
“I was never a cleaner and I do not think he (Chiwenga) meant me. I trained first as a nurse and then went to security. I was at Mavhudzi and those who want to know more about me should ask about Rumbidzai Courage Muhondo. That was my name. I went to war in 1976 after the Nyadzonya camp massacre,” she said.
“People should know that I am a real war veteran. I am not fake and I have respect for my fellow comrades. I also do not have any other ambitions and neither am I looking for any positions.
“During the war, we had various levels and up to today I respect every comrade who holds a senior rank. I also always salute members of the general staff in this province. I am more of an activist than a chairperson,” she added.
Chimene, who told thousands of Zanu PF supporters who gathered in Harare last month that she would do everything within her power to affirm Mugabe, including smoking weed, said the problem with the current crop of the war veterans’ leadership was that some “loud mouthed people want to lead instead of just being activists”.
“You cannot be loud and be a leader at the same time. Give others a chance to speak. Ndakatopopota kuti mandiitirei acting chairperson (I was not keen to be the acting leader of the war veterans).
“I am not a candidate for the chairpersonship. They can contest if they want that,” she said in apparent reference to her rivals who have gone to court to stop her from masquerading as a war veterans leader.
Virtually all the current leaders of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) are closely linked to Mnangagwa’s mooted aspirations to succeed Mugabe. They also recently intimated that they would be bloodshed if the beleaguered VP did not succeed the increasingly frail nonagenarian.
In this respect, Chimene told the Daily News, many comrades were allegedly being led like lambs to the slaughter by ever scheming successionists who were plotting to take over from Mugabe at all costs, never mind the consequences.
“Tell comrades out there that they should not be led this way by ambitious politicians,” she said, adding that this was neither good for them, Zanu PF nor the country.
Zanu PF is currently divided into two main factions — Team Lacoste that is pushing for Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to the throne, and the G40 camp that is rabidly opposed to the Midlands godfather.
And although many Zanu PF insiders claim that the military is marching behind Mnangagwa, Chiwenga maintains that the security sector is apolitical and will not meddle in the ruling party’s factitious politics.
“I am not going to be intimidated by anyone. We want to uphold what we fought for and we will not abandon vaMugabe. We will stand by him while some are just looking for riches and only think about themselves,” Chimene said in an acerbic parting shot. Daily News