BULAWAYO – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has warned Zanu PF party supporters criticising him and his wife Grace to go their own way if they want to continue their “renegade ways”, saying he will not tolerate such behaviour any more.
The governing party is torn along factional lines, with one faction, the G40, coalescing around Grace, and the other, Lacoste, sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Speaking at a Bulawayo presidential youth interface rally on Saturday, Mugabe said he was surprised to learn that there were individuals who had been “sent” to boo Grace during her speech.
“I didn’t know that some people had sent emissaries to boo the first lady during her speech. Mai Mugabe speaks the truth from her heart. But what surprises me is that why are we being attacked in the name of VP Mnangagwa?” Mugabe asked in vernacular Shona.
“Was I wrong in appointing VP Mnangagwa? If I was wrong, I can make him fall by end of day tomorrow. I don’t like that. Regardless of who that person is, we don’t care. They would rather form their own party and leave us.
“If things continue as they are we are going to a [extraordinary special] congress where we will deliberate on such issues and make binding decisions,” he said.
Earlier, Grace had disclosed that Zanu PF was going to change its constitution to accommodate a female VP, as it was before ex-VP Joice Mujuru was sacked from the party in December 2014.
“Mnangagwa knows that as women we now want our post back, which was taken away from us after Mujuru was sacked in 2014. We want the constitution to be changed by end of November. We now want the female VP post back,” she said.
Grace continued her attack on Mnangagwa, whom she accused of fomenting divisions within Zanu PF, which has been in power for 37 years since independence.
Again, she chronicled how higher and tertiary education minister Jonathan Moyo was being “persecuted” by Mnangagwa for coming out in the open about the 2005 Tsholotsho Declaration, where senior Zanu PF and government officials were supposed to meet and supposedly discuss removing Mugabe from power.
A sacked Zanu PF Bulawayo district youth leader, Magura Charumbira, booed Grace during her speech but the latter hit back, saying she did not care.
“If you have been sent to boo me, go ahead, I don’t care. I am powerful and I can stand for myself. I don’t hide behind the finger, I speak the truth,” she said.
“Mnangagwa is dividing the party and he must stop it. We never had a problem with past VPs [Simon Muzenda, Joshua Nkomo, John Nkomo], nor even Phelekezela Mphoko himself.
“Mnangagwa must apologise now and repent before Mugabe. Why should people be afraid to chastise him? Why don’t you go for the root cause? Mnangagwa is the root cause and this issue must go to the disciplinary committee. You are all cowards,” she said.
“We read in newspapers that Mugabe wants to create a power dynasty. So you want the dynasty to only apply on your family and not Mugabe’s? What’s wrong with me going for the female VP post? Am I not a Zimbabwean?
“We will sit down together with my predecessors [Zanu PF women’s league bosses] like Oppah Muchinguri and discuss the potential candidate for the female VP post,” she said.