Mnangagwa 'Ready to rule' sparks war
Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, widely seen as leading the pack to succeed President Robert Mugabe, has provoked a storm within Zanu-PF after he was quoted in a local weekly on Friday as saying he was "ready to rule".
He dropped the bomb ahead of an extraordinary Zanu-PF politburo meeting to discuss factionalism and infighting due to be held this week.
Mnangagwa, a long-serving minister and former personal assistant to Mugabe, reportedly said at Heroes Acre at the burial of politburo official Edson Ncube last week he was ready to govern, if given the opportunity.
His remarks were taken to mean he was confirming his ambition to succeed Mugabe. "I am ready to rule, if selected to do so," Mnangagwa was quoted as saying. "Zanu-PF is about observing the will of the people ... and I will respect the people's wishes if they choose me."
His remarks were received with alarm within Zanu-PF's inner circle, because they came at a time when Mugabe was denouncing divisions and internal power struggles in the party. Senior Zanu-PF officials on Friday reacted with anger to the remarks attributed to Mnangagwa, with some vowing to raise the issue at the politburo meeting .
"Some of us were shocked, while others are alarmed and angered by what he reportedly said," a senior official said. "We can't believe it, because his remarks contradict the president, who is worried about faction leaders and power struggles destroying the party."
Another official said: "If it is true he said it, we are going to table this issue for discussion because that's what is fanning divisions in the party."
Cadres close to Mnangagwa said on Friday he was likely to deny the reports and set his lawyers on the media to clear his name ahead of the extraordinary politburo meeting.
"I've been talking to party officials, including Mnangagwa. It looks like this issue has angered many people. So he might refute the reports and demand a retraction or take legal action," one said. "From what I hear, I think he will deny it and demand an apology to cover his back."
Zanu-PF administration secretary Didymus Mutasa, who is number five in the hierarchy, and spokesman Rugare Gumbo, ranked number 10 in the pecking order, dismissed Mnangagwa's remarks. Mutasa said he would not want to waste time commenting on Mnangagwa's ambitions as they were "individual wishes".
Gumbo said: "Zanu-PF has a hierarchy we have to adhere to when there is a need for promotion."
Mnangagwa is ranked 12th in Zanu-PF, and Mutasa said Mnangagwa was too way down the line to succeed Mugabe. "Mujuru and other seniors are better placed," he said. - timeslive