HARARE – Outspoken Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister, Mandiitawepi Chimene — who could become the latest Zanu PF bigwig today to face a demonstration by her party comrades, for taking on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa — says “only death can stop me” from continuing to defend President Robert Mugabe and his powerful wife Grace.
This comes as the ruling party’s ugly tribal, factional and succession wars have become even more chaotic and confused, following last week’s demonstrations against fellow women’s league heavyweights Eunice Sandi Moyo and Sarah Mahoka — who are under the cosh for allegedly undermining Grace and embezzling party funds, among a litany of other charges.
At the same time, Chimene and other members of the ruling party faction going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40) — who are rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe — are ratcheting up their claims that the current women’s league demonstrations have been hijacked by the VP’s allies, Team Lacoste, to sow divisions within the G40 and the party generally.
Reacting to today’s planned demo against her, the defiant Chimene came out guns blazing yesterday, telling the Daily News that she was not losing sleep over the issue — claiming further that the mooted march was being orchestrated by Team Lacoste and not Grace, who leads the women’s league.
“Assassinating me will be a better deal than carrying out demonstrations against me. Demonstrations are not a problem to me. The best thing (for her Zanu PF enemies to do to her) is to eliminate me,” Chimene said.
“I can’t stop them. Ngavaite zvavanoda (let them do what they want). Ndeyekwavo iyo ( it’s their problem). Vakatondiita izvozvo vanenge vachitondipa mbiri (if they demonstrate against me they will be elevating me).
“They definitely won’t be damaging me. Kutondiwedzera masimba (they would be making me stronger). In fact, I will be part of those that will be dancing during the demonstrations,” the forthright Chimene thundered.
This comes as a shadowy State media columnist, Bishop Lazarus, hinted yesterday that the planned demonstration today by the women’s league would target Chimene on account of her attacks on Mnangagwa last year.
“For those who missed the reasons behind the demos against Sandi Moyo and Mahoka, the two are being accused of undermining the First Lady … In addition, the two are being accused of denigrating VP Mnangagwa and presidential spokesperson George Charamba. Pana VP Mnangagwa ndipo pari kutanga maone aMandi Chimene (Chimene’s troubles emanate from insulting Mnangagwa).
“By the way, did anyone see Mandi during the (last week’s) demonstration in Manicaland? This story has not yet been told in full. Soon it will turn very, very scary and nasty,” the columnist said.
But Chimene told the Daily News yesterday that those who planned to demonstrate against her should not only focus on those who had allegedly insulted Mnangagwa, but broaden their programme to include those who had insulted Mugabe and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko if they meant well.
“Ibvai mabatanidza dzese zvibve zvaonekwa kuti vari kutuka vakuru vabve vangoridzirwa marecords pamwe chete (Let all those who insulted leaders face the music at the same time). Pamarecords anonyanyotamba ibenzi (fools are the ones who dance most energetically at music concerts).
“They should do it at once because we will spend the whole year doing demonstrations if we decide to do them separately,” she said.
In her no-holds-barred blitzkrieg last year, Chimene savaged Mnangagwa and likened him to a wild animal, saying all problem animals were culled at the country’s national parks — adding ominously that Zanu PF also needed to implement the same policy to deal with its “problem animals”.
“Crocodiles must remain in the water. They must stay in the river. They must not stay with the people. Zanu PF is not a dam for crocodiles,” she said then.
“Some of your ministers are now well known that they do not support you (Mugabe). We now have two governments. What are we supposed to do?” Chimene asked, also calling for an extra-ordinary Zanu PF congress to deal with the party’s deadly succession headache.
“We fail to understand how we are supposed to behave. So, your people are asking for an extra-ordinary congress in light of the current problematic situation so that we vote and deal with the issue once and for all.
“It will not be a problem. If you think organising a congress will be expensive, we can actually do the process now and let people chose the leader of their choice. We are tired of threats.
“We are now asking that you expel those that are plotting against you (Mugabe) because you have the powers to appoint and remove these leaders. And if that fails, we can assist you through an extra-ordinary congress,” Chimene added.
Other G40-linked sources told our sister publication, the Daily News On Sunday over the weekend, that Team Lacoste had allegedly latched onto the women’s league demonstrations against Sandi Moyo and Mahoka in a bid to destabilise their faction.
This came as Grace was said to be at the centre of the warring Zanu PF’s latest factional and succession inferno, after she was allegedly angered by Sandi Moyo.
Consistently-reliable Zanu PF sources said at the weekend that Mugabe’s influential wife was “most unhappy” with Sandi Moyo and Mahoka, which had resulted in the party demonstrations of the past few days against the duo.
This also came as the key women’s organ, backed by party youths, is apparently fighting hard for the convening of the extra-ordinary congress to push through their contentious resolution for a female to become one of Zanu PF’s two vice presidents.
Another party bigwig said although the public had been “fed” the story that the duo were under the cosh for allegedly undermining Grace and abusing funds, the “real issue is purely a power battle within the women’s league”.
This was after one of the two women, whom the Daily News understands to be Sandi Moyo, recently shocked the league by allegedly openly declaring her interest in becoming the woman Zanu PF VP when the women’s quota system kicks in.
Mahoka, who is famed for having also publicly dressed down Mnangagwa in front of Mugabe last year, is the women’s league secretary for finance while Sandi Moyo is Grace’s deputy.
On Friday, the youth league joined the women’s league provincial chairpersons to stage another demo against Sandi Moyo and Mahoka in Bulawayo, which left their political careers hanging by a thread.
Party insiders told the Daily News that last Friday’s demonstration against the duo was in response to the alleged “disdain” which Sandi Moyo had shown towards Grace through the ‘‘ill-advised’’ press conference which she had held on Thursday to respond to the allegations against the duo.
Then, an emotional Sandi Moyo told the media at her hastily-arranged press briefing that she would only resign or leave the warring ruling party at the express insistence of Mugabe who had appointed her as a minister and Zanu PF politburo member.