HARARE – Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo — one of the fiercest critics of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa — is being groomed by the Generation 40 (G40) faction to become the next Zanu PF leader, war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa has claimed.
Mutsvangwa, chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), said Moyo is a “traitor”, adding that the G40 faction, also linked to First Lady Grace Mugabe, has now unleashed its “parrots” in the form of Manicaland State minister Mandi Chimene to attack genuine ex-freedom fighters.
“Jonathan Moyo: once a traitor always a traitor…I exposed his wartime desertion. I am thwarting his attempt to take over party leadership,” he said yesterday.
“We are checking G40 ambitions to surreptitiously usurp power using the cloak of illicit access to the apex of power as they take advantage of the advanced age of the president (Robert Mugabe) of the republic,” he said.
This comes as Mugabe, in power since independence 1980, is now getting increasingly frail.
Speculation over his health has triggered a frenzied succession battle in Zanu PF pitting the G40 faction and Team Lacoste, which has been linked to Mnangagwa.
Reacting angrily to a State media columnist going by the moniker Bishop Lazarus, who described war veterans as “puppies”, Mutsvangwa claimed that the G40 faction, fiercely opposed to Mnangagwa’s ascendency, is now propping Moyo up to become the country’s next president.
Asked whether war veterans are “puppies”, Mutsvangwa retorted: “They (ex-freedom fighters) are full blown grey hounds, bulldogs and Rottweilers. Ian Smith learnt that to his great political and military cost.”
“As war veterans, we are naturally more alert and vigilant because of historical pedigree,” he said.
Last week, the war veterans appeared to touch a raw nerve when they vowed to proceed with their meeting that they rescheduled for Friday, notwithstanding that it is not sanctioned by police.
Despite backing down on their earlier decision to dump Mugabe as their patron, the war veterans remain renegades in the eyes of the ruling party, with the nonagenarian leader reportedly angry at their continued attacks on his leadership.
During his 93rd birthday interview, Mugabe said Mutsvangwa is one of the few people in Zanu PF who criticise his rule, as he dismissed the country’s opposition parties as good as dead.
The former freedom fighters — whose national executive is recognised at law — claim there is an attempt to grab power from Mugabe through a bedroom coup.
Mutsvangwa also fired volleys at the rival war veterans association led by Chimene.
He particularly took umbrage with her claims in the State media that he deserted the liberation struggle and was always a rebel.
“…Chimene is not a war veteran…she is creating her own Mutsvangwa. I was never arrested as Vashandi.
“Every night at 8pm I broadcasted on Voice of Zimbabwe from Radio Mozambique as of 1977. I came back to Rhodesia on the same flight as the president in 1979.
“…Chimene is a parrot voice of Moyo, the deserter and traitor,” he said.
In the past, Mutsvangwa has sensationally claimed that Mugabe is now being held hostage by the G40 faction which is now preventing him from executing his government duties.
While the Team Lacoste faction has openly declared that its preferred candidate to succeed Mugabe is Mnangagwa, the G40 faction has been pushing for Mugabe to continue even beyond next year’s watershed elections.
Moyo did not respond to questions sent to him yesterday.