First lady Grace Mugabe will finish off her deputy in the Zanu PF women’s league Eunice Sandi-Moyo after launching a demolition job against the veteran politician last week to clear her path to the vice-presidency.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
This paper today lifts the lid on the bitter brawl in the women’s league which has left deputy secretary, Sandi Moyo and Sarah Mahoka, on the brink, while exposing deepening succession wars in the embattled ruling party.
The push to oust Sandi Moyo, it can be revealed, is being spearheaded by Grace and a faction linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa latched onto the demonstrations without realising that their godfather might lose out, if the first lady’s project succeeds.
Mnangagwa was allegedly using Sandi Moyo as a double-edged sword to block the first lady’s ascendancy and oust Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko with one blow.
Sources told The Standard that Mnangagwa’s faction hijacked the demonstrations against Sandi Moyo and Mahoka in an attempt to expose the first lady as an unstable and unfaithful leader who ditches her most ardent supporters in the cold in her quest for power.
The women’s league, since 2015, has been calling for an amendment of the Zanu PF constitution so that one of the vice-presidents is a woman.
According to those behind the plot, it was meant to elevate the first lady at the expense of Mnangagwa, who is battling on all fronts to remain in the position and stay as a frontrunner to succeed Mugabe.
Mnangagwa’s group, in a bid to checkmate the first lady and her G40 backers, took the stance not to oppose the female quota proposal, but argued and plotted to have the female vice-presidency reserved for a member of the former Zapu which entered into a unity pact with Zanu in 1987.
The Mnangagwa faction used the pretext that the female vice-presidency should rotate, while arguing that Zanu had its turn during the Joice Mujuru vice-presidency.
Their proposal had unsettled Mphoko, the current Zapu member in the presidium who was set to lose his position if the Lacoste plan was to be taken up.
The implementation of the proposal would also block Grace’s path to the top.
According to sources, Sandi Moyo, as the most high-ranking female from the former Zapu in the current Zanu PF hierarchy, tacitly bought the Mnangagwa faction’s proposal since 2015.
The source said she had started to openly entertain ambitions to be vice president —much to the dismay of the first lady and Mphoko.
Mnangagwa’s faction saw it as an opportunity to sow seeds of division in the G40.
Countrywide protests by Women’s League members at Zanu PF offices this past week targeting Sandi Moyo and Mahoka threw Zanu PF into a state of unprecedented flux and intrigue.
But as the dust settled, sources inside the women’s league told The Standard that Grace gave the green light for Sandi Moyo’s ouster after the two women met recently.
Sandi Moyo, it is understood, wanted to discuss the implementation of the women league’s resolution for a female vice President and asked the first lady if she would be interested in the job when the constitution is amended, possibly this year.
“The first lady told Sandi that she was not interested in the position,” a top Zanu PF said.
“But then she threw the question back at Sandi, who responded by indicating that she would be delighted to accept the appointment if offered.
“That set off alarm bells, especially for Grace and Mphoko. Sandi is now paying the price for her indiscretion.”
The decision to stage protests against Sandi was communicated to other members by the women’s league secretary for administration Letina Undenge .
However, Undenge blundered, said one source, that Grace’s allies like Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and youth league secretary Kudzai Chipanga were kept out of the loop and were caught unawares or notified too late about the demonstrations.
The G40 faction was left in virtual paralysis after the first protests allowed elements of Mnangagwa’s Lacoste faction to hijack the demonstrations and smuggle in their own agenda.
Insiders said the faction tried to use the demonstrations to – settle an old score with Mahoka who has publicly hit out at Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba over Zanu PF factionalism.
The charge and placards stating that “Mahoka went further to insult Vice President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa in public and to challenge the work of the permanent secretary Cde George Charamba” were smuggled in at the eleventh hour by Lacoste operatives, according to one official.
Undenge, is understood, coordinated the poorly staged anti-Sandi protests with State House principal director, Dzepasi Innocent Tizora and Zanu PF activist Jimayi Mduri, both known Mnangagwa sympathisers who roped in other Lacoste runners such as Alifas Mashava in Bulawayo.
A named to Information ministry official handled the media and printed the placards using facilities that normally print messages for national events such as the burial of national heroes.
Zanu PF insiders say Sandi Moyo is unlikely to survive as deputy secretary, but her strong relationship with Mugabe will most likely see her keep her ministerial gig as provincial minister for Bulawayo as well as her seat in the Zanu PF politburo.
The Standard also heard that Mugabe had told the party’s secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo to stop the plot against Sandi Moyo – but the Zanu PF secretary for administration never got to carry out the instruction as he was already on his way to China.
Chombo later made a few calls to communicate Mugabe’s instructions, but was allegedly slapped down by the first lady who told him to “stay out of the women’s league programme”.
“The purging of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka has frayed the consciences of some of the G40 leaders, because they have come far with the duo, but no-one dares question or defy Grace,” the politburo source said.
“So, reluctantly, everyone has jumped on board and it’s hard to see how Sandi Moyo will keep her post as deputy secretary.”
With Kasukuwere and Chipanga now set to take the lead in mobilising against Mahoka and Sandi Moyo, the two embattled officials’ fate could be sealed as early as this week.
Mugabe, however, may yet flex his muscle and rescue the two women when the party’s politburo meets, either this week or the next.
Sandi Moyo sits in the politburo, and it is expected that Mugabe will give her a chance to explain how she finds herself in a political cul-de-sac few could have predicted.
She could find herself in new company, with Mnangagwa’s allies springing to her defence.
Already, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), which has aligned itself with the Mnangagwa faction after its leaders were jettisoned by Zanu PF, has described the moves against Sandi Moyo as “Grace’s shenanigans”.
ZNLWVA secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda said: “Why Sandi? Because she becomes senior and she might challenge on the woman vice president position.
“How can we have a leadership that is so small and myopic, instead of dealing with the economic challenges they fund demonstrations, just to pave way for positions?
“I think if we are really serious about strengthening the party we must all be against Grace’s shenanigans and stop her from this wholesome and mob-expulsion of party members although we all know that these two women affected were her foot soldiers, accomplices and partners in the same crime they are faced with today.”
Matemadanda went on to say “real and genuine supporters of Zanu PF and those who are advocating for Mnangagwa to take over are for party rebranding and not party destruction.” – Standard