HARARE – First Lady Grace Mugabe is quietly withdrawing her support for a Zanu PF faction known as G40 as the battle to succeed her 92-year-old husband takes a new twist.
According to Zanu PF insiders, Grace —who early this year launched a vicious attack on Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, accusing him of plotting against her husband — is now trying to build her own base in the faction-ridden party.
“Amai [Grace] seems to be convinced that the boys (G40) are up to no good. There is a realisation that she is not part and parcel of their grand plan,” said a source.
“She has turned her back on them and is being influenced by the director of State residences, Innocent Tizora, among others.”
The source alleged that Grace recently snubbed a meeting with Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere — believed to be a G40 member — as she accused him of misleading Mugabe on several issues.
“The relationship between G40 and the First Lady is at its lowest ebb, especially with Kasukuwere,” said the source.
“It is no longer as vibrant as it used to be. She has accused him of misleading and misinforming the president.”
But Kasukuwere yesterday refuted the allegations, saying he enjoyed a cordial working relationship with the first lady.
“Who is peddling such kind of rubbish and nonsense? I have a strong working relationship with my boss and the secretary for women’s affairs. I am not worried about those who wish us to be at each other’s throats,” he said.
“They might as well continue to wish and spread such dangerous information to you guys, it won’t change anything.
“We know what they want to achieve and their links with the opposition to destroy Zanu PF and the legacy of our president.”
Kasukuwere added: “I don’t even know [where] you guys get such immature and highly-misleading rumours.”
The G40 faction is involved in a brutal war to succeed Mugabe with another group linked to Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa — who enjoys the backing of the military and war veterans — was allegedly strategising to finish off G40 and various tactics have been drawn up to deal with its members.
Kasukuwere refused to comment on the alleged plots and the involvement of the military in Zanu PF factional fights.
However, he said he was not afraid of anyone as he was executing his duties as mandated by Mugabe — the appointing authority.
“I fear nothing and I know as long as God is there, nothing will happen to me,” he said.
“ I am working as mandated by the appointing authority, who is the president of the party and government Cde Mugabe, so whether it’s true or not — of which I don’t think it’s true — I don’t mind.
“I will continue to work for the people of Zimbabwe and my party — Zanu PF.”
Meanwhile, some G40 members said they were aware of plots against them.
“We are aware of their plots and the deadlines that they have. They have no time and to avoid any loss or physical harm to anyone, we have beefed up security to ensure that we don’t take chances,” said a senior Zanu PF official linked to G40.
According to insiders, those targeted include Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who in the past weeks had come under attack after he allegedly sided with Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo on the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund scandal.
Others said to be targeted by the Mnangagwa faction are Moyo, his deputy Godfrey Gandawa and Kasukuwere, among others.
Mphoko, Moyo and Gandawa were unavailable for comment as they did not respond to calls made to them.
To ensure their safety, according to sources, the G40 kingpins resolved to engage the Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe and police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri to discuss their safety as infighting within the party escalates.
During a Zanu PF conference held in Victoria Falls last year, Mugabe accused some military bosses of being involved in the party’s factional fights and warned them that the party should lead the gun and not vice versa.