HARARE – The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (Znlwva) is urging embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to cut ties with President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party because there was no future in the ruling party for the Midlands godfather.
Mugabe’s relationship with the ex-fighters has hit an all-time low over differences on how to deal with the ruling party’s contentious succession issue.
While the war veterans want Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, a faction that goes by the moniker Generation 40 (G40) is fiercely opposed to the vice president taking over from the Zanu PF leader, preferring Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi instead.
So ugly has been the internecine infighting between G40 and the Team Lacoste group that backs Mnangagwa that Zanu PF is now going for an extraordinary congress next month to reconfigure its leadership.
At the special congress, the party is expected to pass a resolution to elevate a woman to be one of the two vice presidents, in what could result in Mnangagwa losing his job.
Znlwva, which is fighting in Mnangagwa’s corner, said this week the vice president should boycott the forthcoming extraordinary congress as it is meant to either demote or weaken him through the promotion of a woman into the presidium.
Douglas Mahiya, Znlwva spokesperson, on Saturday said there was no wisdom in Mnangagwa attending the special congress because his participation will only “legitimise an illegal congress” hence he must “join other war veterans at their conference this month to chat the way forward for Zimbabwe”.
“He (Mnangagwa ) should not go there because it does not help him in any way since it is clear that the congress, as demanded by G40, is not for good intentions but to either demote him or amend the Zanu PF constitution and elect Grace Mugabe the third vice president — whichever option suits them,” Mahiya told the Daily News.
“Mnangagwa is a war veteran and he is invited to our meeting because what is happening to him now is because he is a senior war veteran and G40 doesn’t want war veterans in the party. He is not wanted anymore but the PF in Zanu PF belongs to us, we are political soldiers so now we want to take away that PF element and unite against the enemy.”
PF is the synonym for the Patriotic Front, which was a coalition of two parties — Zapu and Zanu, which had worked together to fight against white minority rule in Rhodesia.
In the 1980 elections, Zapu contested as Patriotic Front whereas Zanu contested as Zanu-Patriotic Front.
In 1988, the ruling party absorbed Zapu to become Zanu PF.
Mahiya insisted on Saturday that far from being elective, the Zanu PF congress was part of a bigger plot to remove Mnangagwa and elevate either Sekeramayi or Grace to the vice presidency.
Since her election as women’s league secretary in 2014, Grace has virtually become a kingmaker, having publicly influenced the ousting of former vice president Joice Mujuru and many high-profile senior party officials in the run up to and after the party’s December 2014 congress.
On the other hand, Sekeramayi’s name was propelled into the centre of the succession debate by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo — another perceived G40 kingpin — at a Sapes Trust Policy Dialogue Forum in June where he suggested that Sekeramayi was a far better candidate to succeed Mugabe than Mnangagwa.
Mahiya said the meeting being called for by Znlwva is a platform for Zimbabweans including all opposition parties to chat the way forward ahead of elections next year.
“We are inviting everyone. I don’t want to use the word opposition because it no longer exists in our vocabulary. We realised that the people we used to call opposition like the MDC and others are actually progressive and they are all invited to that platform,” he said.
Mahiya said the conference to be held at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare on November 18, would also bring together liberation war collaborators, children of war veterans as well as “our wives”.
“We have since notified the police of our intentions and we hope to get a response by Tuesday next week. We had hoped to hold the conference at Gwanzura Stadium but we have learnt that the venue is under renovation so we have changed that to Highfield.
“We look forward to the police to cooperate with us that is why we have given them our notification well in advance so that there won’t be any excuses of having been told at short notice,” he said.
Mahiya said the war veterans’ indaba was mainly about people opposed to Mugabe including those within Zanu PF.
Last year, war veterans wrote a damning communiqué in which they criticised Mugabe’s rule since independence from Britain in 1980.
They urged Mugabe ,93, to hand over the reins of power to Mnangagwa, arguing that owing to his advanced age, he was no longer fit for office and that it would be difficult to market him as a candidate for elections next year. – Daily News