HARARE – VICE-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is destined to fall and be kicked out of Zanu PF and government in Gwanda, the town he says he was poisoned and flown to South Africa for treatment; according to an emerging scheduled plan reminiscent to Joice Mujuru’s fall.
The embattled Vice President who is reportedly leading the Team Lacoste faction is vying to succeed President Mugabe and he is facing a stiff challenge from a faction led by President Mugabe’s wife Grace who is the leader of G40.
Mnangagwa fell sick in Gwanda in August this year and was immediately airlifted to South Africa with his loyalists concluding that he had been poisoned by rivals in the deadly race to succeed Mugabe, who turns 94 next year and is now showing signs of frailty.
Generation 40 (G40) faction also includes within its ranks Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo and the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere. And sources said Gwanda was chosen by Moyo with the view of psychological impact the city now has on Mnangagwa and the test is on him to attend or he doesn’t show up like what former Vice President Mujuru did leading to her expulsion.
Zanu PF is already sourcing for $6,4 million to prepare the venue for the 17th zanu-pf Annual National People’s Conference scheduled for Gwanda in December. The party’s Matabeleland South province has settled for the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) grounds for this year’s indaba.
Already conditions are being made to make it difficult for Mnangagwa not to attend the conference like what Mujuru did in 2014 at the ZANU PF 6th National People’s Congress leading to her being expelled from the party after a vote of no confidence orchestrated by President Mugabe and his wife.
He was viewed as a likely successor to Zimbabwean Mugabe, a longtime ally whose close association with the 93-year-old leader dates to the struggle against white minority rule, now Mnangagwa appears to be falling out of favor, deepening the mystery over who will take over from a man who has ruled since independence in 1980.
Mugabe has led attacks on his old friend, reflecting turmoil within the ruling ZANU-PF party in a country where political uncertainty has fueled problems in a deteriorating economy and increased hardship for many Zimbabweans. The criticism of the vice president, one of two presidential deputies, comes ahead of Mugabe’s re-election bid next year and amid a rise in prominence of Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, whose name is popping up more often as a possible successor.
On Thursday, Mnangagwa pledged his “unflinching loyalty” to Mugabe following accusations from Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, and others that he had misled the country by saying recently that he fell ill because he was poisoned.
The fractured opposition, meanwhile, has been unable to channel national discontent into a strong play for power. The main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has health problems and recently received treatment in neighboring South Africa.
“Mugabe survives on pitting one faction against the other. He elevates one faction, discards it when it begins to feel comfortable and props up another one,” said Gabriel Shumba, a Zimbabwean political analyst and human rights lawyer based in South Africa.
The machinations are eerily similar to those that augured the 2014 dismissal of Vice President Joice Mujuru, another former ally of Mugabe who is now an opposition figure. A dominant figure in the ouster of Mujuru who has now set her sights on Mnangagwa is Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe, whose calls for the appointment of a female vice president intensified talk that she eventually wants to take over the top spot from her husband.
So Mnangagwa has dutifully sat through political rallies where the Mugabe couple accused him of leading a faction that seeks power and has endured humiliating barbs from his boss. President Mugabe, for example, told a crowd about allegations that the vice president once left a rival for a woman’s affections paralyzed after forcing him to jump from a multi-story building.
“He was told to make a choice between sitting on a hot stove or jump out of the window. He chose to jump and now he is disabled. He could have refused both options but I guess he was afraid,” Mugabe said at a rally in Bindura town on Sept. 9.