HARARE – The Zanu PF youth league has warned that it will block any attempts within the warring ruling party to force President Robert Mugabe to retire — insisting that he should die in office despite the nonagenarian hinting at the weekend that the party could hold an extra-ordinary congress to choose his successor should he opt to take a rest.
“The youth league, in conjunction with the women’s league, cannot imagine voting for any other elder who is not Mugabe, unless nature takes its toll on him.
“So, even if the president were to say I am tired, let us go for a special congress, we will persuade him to still lead us,” a fired-up Zanu PF youth league leader, Kudzanai Chipanga, told the Daily News yesterday.
“Anyone who wants to take over from him in Zanu PF will have to make do with a party without two crucial party wings because the youths and women will not follow him,” he added ominously as the former liberation movement’s seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and succession wars continue to escalate.
Insiders have previously told the Daily News that the key youth and women’s leagues are working with a party faction going by the name Generation 40 (G40), which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
The G40 has also been supporting calls for Zanu PF to hold an extra-ordinary congress, in line with a women’s league resolution that was first put on the table two years ago, to have one of Mugabe’s two deputies pave the way for a woman — in what analysts widely agree is a move targeted at crushing Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.
But speaking at his 93rd birthday celebrations in Matobo, in Matabeleland South on Saturday, a tired-looking Mugabe said Zanu PF could stage an extraordinary congress to choose his successor if he decided to retire.
“If Zanu PF says I should go, I will … For your own information, I never canvassed for any position, I rose up to my position … let the people judge for themselves … We don’t want imposition (of leaders) at all.
“People have said that I should choose a successor but that is what is called imposition. I don’t want and will never impose. This is the job of congress to choose those who will then come up and the party will elect.
“Whatever position you seek must be a position you get upon a proper election by the people … People who are busy forming their own groupings saying VaMugabe must go I ask myself where should I go,” Mugabe said.
However, disgruntled war veterans, who had a nasty fallout with the increasingly frail nonagenarian last year say if Mugabe wants a smooth power transition, debate around succession should not be muzzled.
“We have always known that he (Mugabe) indicates right and turns left and on this one we know he is speaking with a forked tongue again.
“He does not intend to make the extra-ordinary congress a democratic one if it is called, because there won’t be a secret ballot as he will be openly endorsed by crazy people like Chipanga who are taking advantage of his advanced age, lying to him that he is still popular with the people when the opposite is true.
“He wants his wife (Grace) to succeed him, then his son and other relatives including (Patrick) Zhuwao and others, and that is why you hear them saying ‘you can’t do that to my uncle, my husband cannot be succeeded’ and other stupid stuff they say,” the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, said.
“They think Mugabe is more important than anyone else because he fought against the whites. But we know that he came to war when we were already there and he never fired a gun.
“If he thinks he is popular, then he should call for a secret ballot within his party, or a referendum, then he will appreciate that Zimbabweans are fed up with him.
“That he has failed them is evidenced by the state of the economy and the people’s general standard of living,” the forthright Matemadanda added.
Meanwhile, many other allies of Mnangagwa have in recent months also been at the forefront demanding an extra-ordinary party congress to install the Midlands godfather as the former liberation movement’s presidential candidate for 2018.
Last month, highly-opinionated businessman-cum-politician and an avowed Mnangagwa supporter, Energy Mutodi, claimed that Mugabe had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that “99 percent” of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way that the nonagenarian could win elections against popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Mugabe must retire. What we must be discussing now is how we share power in Zanu PF post-Mugabe,” he said, adding that it will be very embarrassing for Mugabe if he stood for election again and lost.
“Mnangagwa is too loyal to Mugabe, to the extent that he cannot even express his own views for his boss to retire. It’s up to Mugabe himself to be really thankful to his loyalists who have helped him to remain in power for this long and not the opportunists who praise him during the day and denigrate him during the night.
“This is what the man (Mnangagwa) is made of and he has shown total loyalty and obedience to the president,” Mutodi told the Daily News then.
He was also emphatic that he was “even prepared to die” for his views and personal beliefs, adding that the ongoing demand by the Zanu PF women’s league to push a woman back into the presidium, at Mnangagwa’s expense, would come to nought as this would not be entertained.
“I don’t think that one deserves to be a VP simply because one is a woman. You must be deserving not because of your sex. We are not going to be entertaining that resolution,” Mutodi said.
Another vociferous Mnangagwa supporter, former Cabinet minister and war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa, was also emphatic in an interview with UK publication, the New Statesman, that the VP would “100 percent” soon be Zimbabwe’s next president.
Mugabe has studiously refused to name a successor, arguing that his party should rather follow what he sees as a more democratic process, to manage his succession via a congress.
Speaking in his annual interview with the ZBC last week, ahead of his 93rd birthday, Mugabe appeared to rule out the chances of Mnangagwa succeeding him when he said he would soldier on in power — notwithstanding his advanced age and declining health — and that he would only step down if Zanu PF asked him to do so.
Soon afterwards, Mnangagwa’s angry allies, including sacked Mashonaland Central youth leader Godfrey Tsenengamu came out guns blazing, warning the nonagenarian that he faced a big fight if he continued to thwart the Midlands godfather’s mooted presidential aspirations.
Tsenengamu also said that they would now openly campaign for Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s successor, raising the stakes high in the succession saga.
He was subsequently nabbed by detectives, a day after he held his press conference in the capital where he let rip at Mugabe and Grace.
Tsenengamu has since appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts where he was denied bail.
He is facing three charges: violating provisions of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa) for holding his press conference without clearance, undermining the authority of the president and subverting a constitutionally-elected government. – Daily News