HARARE – Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday urged his party members to be wary of rivals of the ruling party seeking to divide the party which has been dogged by factionalism.
“I am aware that our detractors are trying to divide the party by attempting to recruit from within the rank and file of our membership,” Mnangagwa told provincial leaders attending the ruling Zanu-PF party’s annual national conference in Goromonzi, 40 kilometres east of the capital Harare.
“Let us remain vigilant, steadfast and loyal to the principles of the party. Wolves, among us in sheep’s clothing, must be flushed out.”
Mnangagwa’s remarks came after exiled former minister and Zanu-PF political commissar Savious Kasukuwere announced last week that he was planning to return home and challenge Mnangagwa in the next presidential election in 2023.
Mnangagwa blamed the country’s economic troubles on the opposition but said he was unfazed by “attempts by our detractors to derail the course of our reforms and economic recovery.”
Mnangagwa has claimed that the re-introduction of a local currency after 10 years of using foreign currencies would lead to economic stability and growth.
“The party should never be detracted by those who are making irritating noises within the country and those on twitter and other social media platforms. They will tweet and tweet while we rule and rule.”
The conference was held as the country tries to stave off a major economic downturn that has provoked biting shortages of fuel, medicine, and currency as well as surging prices.
State doctors have been on strike for more than two months after rejecting a pay rise offered by the government that they said failed to meet everyday costs.
Mnangagwa accused the leaders of the doctors union of meeting under the cover of darkness and taking bribes from unnamed donors “to make the health care system collapse.”
Fuel prices have increased by more than 400% since the start of the year, and labour leaders say doctors had to use their savings just to show up to hospital each morning.
While the president, who succeeded long-time ruler Robert Mugabe who died in September, has promised to revive the economy, declaring Zimbabwe “open for business”, critics say the country is in a worse situation than it was under Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown constitutes the biggest threat to Zanu PF’s continued hold on power, the ruling party has admitted.
The country is going through one of the worst economic crises since 2013 characterised by severe currency shortages, scarce fuel supplies and galloping inflation.
A United Nations expert last month said Zimbabwe was on the brink of a man made starvation.
Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, made the observation after an 11-day assessment.
She attributed the crisis to hyperinflation, poverty, natural disasters and economic sanctions, among other things.
The government, however, described Elver’s findings as exaggerations but the admission by Zanu PF in a central committee report tabled at the ruling party’s just-ended annual conference in Goromonzi showed that the authorities are having sleepless nights over the crisis.
In the report, Zanu PF commissar Victor Matemadanda said the crisis threatened the party’s own existence. Zanu PF does not take responsibility for the chaos in the economy.
“The most latent security threat that has great consequences is the unstable economy, which is largely propelled by the parallel market (black market),” reads part of the report.
“Formal trading prices are determined by the parallel market exchange rate, which has been sharply rising on a daily basis.
“Prices of all commodities and services have followed suit to unsustainable levels.
“Most people are failing to make ends meet, so are poverty levels that are rising very much throughout the country.
“As a result, anger is brewing among the citizens while there is loss of confidence on the direction the economy is taking.”
In January a steep increase in the price of fuel led to violent protests across the country, which were ruthlessly put down by the army and police.
Human rights groups said as many as 17 people were killed when security forces fired live ammunition during the three days of demonstrations.
At least several women were allegedly raped by soldiers. Since then the government has been refusing to give the main opposition MDC clearance to hold protests, saying the situation in the country remained volatile.
The central committee report recommended that Zanu PF should prioritise programmes aimed at resuscitating the economy for its survival.
“As the party continues to prioritise the resuscitation of the economy, the national security (organs) need to maintain a peaceful environment around the country to enable unperturbed economic growth,” the report added.
Zanu PF also describes the MDC and civil society groups as a security threat as they are allegedly working together in efforts to topple Mnangagwa.
“The opposition, together with their international allies, have attempted to put pressure on President Mnangagwa to start a separate dialogue with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa,” the report added.
“It is interesting to note that some NGOs, civil society organisations and some western countries continue to fight in the opposition’s corner by morally supporting their acts of destabilisation.
“The same organisations have been urging America and its European allies to maintain the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe citing alleged human rights violations by security services.”
The party accused the organisations of “staging” abductions of their members “to ensure that the country is viewed in political bad light”.
MDC, the report claims, is working with some community based organisations that organise cultural, sporting and arts festivals as well as sexual reproductive education programmes to recruit supporters ahead of the 2023 general election.
“These programmes are being done as campaign strategies by MDC ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections,” Zanu PF claimed.
Chamisa and the MDC refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s election victory in last year’s elections citing alleged vote rigging.
The opposition party has been pushing for dialogue between the two leaders to resolve the crisis, but Zanu PF insists that there is no need for the talks.
Instead Mnangagwa set up a dialogue forum of fringe political parties that took part in the July 2018 presidential elections, which the MDC has dismissed as a farce.
Churches have also been pushing for dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa to resolve Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis, which has left millions on the brink of starvation.
According to the UN, 60% of Zimbabwe’s population is food insecure due to a severe drought during the 2018/19 farming season.
Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe in 2017 following a military coup, has been struggling to deliver on his promise of a quick economic turnaround.
Foreign investors continue to stay away from Zimbabwe due to the unstable political situation in the country and unpredictable economic policies.
In June Zimbabwe dumped the multi-currency regime that had helped stabilise the economy for over a decade and reverted back to its own currency.
The Zimbabwe dollar, however, has been losing value rapidly due to low economic activity in the country.
– Source: Eeyewitness News