HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has thrown his weight behind President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate for 2023, ending months of speculation linking him to the top job.
Speaking at Murombedzi Growth Point in Mashonaland West yesterday, the former Zanla combatant who, as the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) led the soft coup that catapulted Mnangagwa to power, said his boss was anointed to lead forever.
“There is no vacancy and there were those who were recently speaking recklessly; they need to keep quiet. There is nothing he (Mnangagwa) has done wrong, he fears God and responds to what the heavens ask of him,” said Chiwenga, while describing the ruling party leader as a listening, action-oriented and transformative president who believes in transparency.
Speculation has been rife within and outside Zanu PF suggesting that the bond between Chiwenga and his boss had become strained after the former ZDF chief was removed from being the country’s Defence minister.
The conjecture got stronger when the president appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the death of six unarmed civilians in the streets of Harare on August 1 this year.
Chiwenga was the Defence minister at the time when the army was unleashed in central Harare to disperse protesters who were demonstrating against delays by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in releasing the results of the presidential poll.
And more recently, some of Mnangagwa’s allies accused Chiwenga of shielding members of cartels said to be contributing to the economic hardships facing the majority of Zimbabweans.
But yesterday, the vice president went to town extolling Mnangagwa when he introduced him at his first ‘‘thank you rally’’ in Mashonaland West.
He said the president joined Zanu PF at 19 years and that “since then he has been with the party, he was jailed but never ran away from the party. He is a revolutionary”.
“No amount of demonstrations or barking will remove Mnangagwa. He is not going anywhere until he has fulfilled his mandate which he set out to be achieved by 2030. Even then, the presidency is not open to anyone who is not in Zanu PF. We are here to stay,” he declared.
“Those who are blind and voted for this false bishop (Nelson Chamisa) should have realised by now that he is a farce. Be careful of these false prophets for the Bible has even warned against them,” Chiwenga said.
His endorsement of Mnangagwa’s 2023 candidature follows that of the Zanu PF youth league which has shut doors on possible challengers within the party.
The youth league commissar, Godfrey Tsenengamu, told delegates during the Zanu PF National Convention at the party’s headquarters in Harare that they expect Mnangagwa
to run his full two terms without hindrance.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa warned the MDC Alliance that it should not take the new-found political freedom as a weakness on the part of his government.
“The mischief by MDC Alliance is a sign of the freedoms but it should not be taken too far. They are being mischievous because their stomachs are full because of the product of interventions such as Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme. What we want is peace in the country,” he said.
He also spoke about the MDC legislators who refused to recognise him during the national budget presentation in Parliament on Thursday last week.
“Even if they do not stand up for me in Parliament, I will still come and they will continue to be ejected from the House. Their absence will not stop progress — after all we have two thirds majority and can pass any law that we want,” he said.
The president also touched on the violence that rocked Harare on August 1 during which several vehicles belonging to Zanu PF were destroyed.
He chastised Chamisa for acting in a childish manner, saying the late MDC founding father Morgan Tsvangirai was more mature as he respected the law and always found ways to work with others in spite of their differences.
“We preached peace in the run-up to the election. I would like to thank the people of Zimbabwe for showing that we can have a peaceful election. There was one bird that always parroted that if it did not win, there would be chaos.
“What is the purpose of going for an election if the outcome is predetermined? We have more than two-thirds in Parliament and we can change laws. The late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was mature,” said Mnangagwa.
He also addressed several other issues among them the disturbing road accidents on the country’s highways and urged passengers to take a stand against reckless driving.
The president bemoaned the increases in prices saying he has engaged producers of basic goods to arrest the trend.
“Retailers have persisted and we will deal with that by withdrawing operating licences to those who thrive on profiteering,” he said.
He said his administration is working on retooling industry to lessen the cost of production which has a bearing on the price of goods.
On the persistent fuel shortages he said: “We have doubled the importation of fuel because people are stocking fuel in their houses. People risk starting fires that could lead to loss of life and property.”
He said government has passed a law that requires people to pay duty for imported vehicles using foreign currency, adding that “there are also going to be no more ghost workers in government following the introduction of a bio-metric registration of civil servants”.