GEZANI – Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga has spoken on a subject related to succession, the first time he does so after President Mugabe warned Army chiefs to stay clear of politics.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for a hospital to be built in Sengwe in Chiredzi South, Chiwengwa reiterated statements made by Army Generals before that the country can never be taken over by someone without liberation war credentials.
The function was attended by several senior Army officers including Army Chief of Staff, General Trust Mugoba who made Zanu PF slogans at the end of the proceedings.
Zanu PF is divided through the middle with two factions namely G40 believed to be led by the First Lady Grace Mugabe and Lacoste which is loyal to Vice President Mnangagwa fighting to take over power from the ageing President. G40 has few members who participated in the liberation struggle.
General Chiwenga was recently accused by the First Lady of supporting Mnangagwa in the succession politics.
Mugabe himself warned the Army to stop dabbling in politics and said such action was tantamount to a coup. He also announced that he was going to retire top Army generals before the end of this year and generals had tended to observe Mugabe’s warning since then.
“Many lives were lost during the liberation struggle and that should give us more resolve on where we are coming from and where we are going as a country. We are facing many challenges as a people but we should not lose focus. The blood lost should not be in vain. We should continue to jealously guard our country and its sovereignty. We will never allow it to go into the hands of puppets or the whites,” declared Chiwenga.
The function was attended by Chief Sengwe, headman Gezani and other traditional leaders, MP for Chiredzi South Ret Brigadier Kallisto Gwanetsa, Chiredzi DA Lovemore Chisema, Chiredzi RDC CEO Isaac Matsilele and the chairman Edward Matsilele.
Political commentator Dr Fidelis Duri said it is clear that the country is in election mode and these are Zanu PF tactics of intimidating the ordinary electrorate with empty rhetoric.
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.