Mugabe’s youth plan backfires

Robert Mugabe and his Youth Chairman Kudzanai Chipanga

HARARE – The Zanu PF Youth League, which carries the ruling party’s hopes of retaining power at next year’s elections, has hit turbulence owing to seismic divisions among its members over President Robert Mugabe’s attempts to distance his party from terror gangs that are wreaking havoc countrywide, the Daily News can report.

At his fourth interface rally in Lupane on Friday, Mugabe hit out at terror groups that claim to be affiliated to his party, saying Zanu PF had no hand in their illegal activities. He advocated instant justice, saying they should be kicked out of the way without even waiting for the police to apprehend them.

Soon after his address, agitated Zanu PF supporters turned on one of the suspected terror groups — the Children of War Veterans Association (Cozwa) — forcing its members to flee from the scene.

This week, the youth league plunged into a crisis, as members hurled insults at each other over Mugabe’s remarks.

Cozwa, said to be an accessory of the Generation 40 (G40) faction, yesterday hit out at Zanu PF youth league secretary, Kudzanai Chipanga, sensationally claiming that he was bought a car and a house by individuals linked to the Team Lacoste camp.

Leader of the association, Munyaradzi Shoko, claimed their woes started when they turned down Chipanga’s overtures to have them turn against the First Family and lend their support to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe.

“Chipanga misinformed the First Lady (Grace Mugabe) because I told him he was a sell-out. I confronted him after I heard from (Zanu PF provincial youths chairperson Nobert Ndarombe) that he received a car and a house from Lacoste to support them,” he said.

“I am now living in fear. My life is now in danger. Chipanga took old videos which we did during the days of Tajamuka and went to present it to the First Lady. Chipanga is failing to lead the youths; anofamba achiteerera makuhwa (he listens to rumours). He told me that there was something happening in terms of factional fights and I must know where to stand. I will not support their factional agenda of trying to prop up Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to be the next president. I stand by the president and the First Lady and I will not support VP Mnangagwa I will not do that,” added Shoko.

Zanu PF is divided between two antagonistic factions namely Team Lacoste and G40.

Cozwa is said to be close to the G40. It was formed to counter the Children of National Liberation War Veterans Association, closely linked to the Team Lacoste faction, which is backing Mnangagwa to take-over from Mugabe.

The group has, however, come under fire from Mugabe and Chipanga for fanning factionalism and reigning terror in local communities.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Chipanga said he will not respond to the allegations because he was on a higher level and cannot relate with a terror gang that has already been dealt with by the party.

“We are done with him (Shoko); we have distanced (ourselves) from him. Even the first citizen has distanced itself from him. I cannot stoop to his low level. I have no time to deal with terror gang leaders. If they so wish to argue, they can go and engage with other terror groups such as Boko Haram,” Chipanga said.

The Makoni South legislator has earned a reputation for jumping from one faction to the other, always associating himself with dominant factions in Zanu PF’s brutal fights to succeed Mugabe.

In 2014, he was associated with a faction led by former vice president Joice Mujuru, which was credited for campaigning for his election as youth league deputy secretary, beating Tongai Kasukuwere in the process.

As it became apparent that the odds were heavily staked against Mujuru, Chipanga surprised his former allies when he jumped ship, and denounced Mujuru’s faction at a rally addressed by the First Lady in Mazowe.

Thereafter, Chipanga pitched his tent in the G40 faction. But with the twists and turns in Zanu PF over Mugabe’s succession, Chipanga is now being linked to Team Lacoste.

According to Zanu PF insiders, the ructions in the youth league do not bode well for Mugabe’s party, which faces a tricky poll next year.

Mugabe has fallen out with former liberation war fighters who used to campaign for his party in previous elections and is now banking on the youth and the women’s vote.

Divisions in the youth wing might therefore work against Mugabe’s plan to ride on the youth vote.

During his address in Lupane, Mugabe, had no kind words for youths who have established terror gangs using Zanu PF’s name and that of his wife, Grace.

He said; “I hear there are groups that are going about tarnishing our image and that of the party; terrorising people in the name of the First Lady and we should never allow criminals to do that”.

“Kick them out of the way when you see them; do that and do not wait for the police. Give them the punishment that they deserve and call the police later,” Mugabe added.

This comes as the ruling party has set in motion a process that would see Zanu PF taking charge of the emblazoning of party cars with the face of either Mugabe or his wife to curtail abuses.

The move is seen as targeting Cozwa and other notorious organisations that have been using the First Family’s names to have their way, bully police officers as well as beating up opposition party members.

Speaking to Zanu PF structures over the weekend, Defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, admitted that some of the ruling party supporters had become rogue to the extent that some were masquerading as soldiers.

“They should be registered at the party headquarters. Some of them have been committing crimes. They hold illegal roadblocks. They refuse to pay toll fees. Others claim to be soldiers. We want that addressed,” Sekeramayi said.