HARARE – The Zanu PF faction which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe is said to be at “sixes and sevens” as the ruling party’s deadly tribal, factional and succession wars reach a tipping point.
Well-placed sources within the burning former liberation movement confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that the surprise move by powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe to ditch two of her former top allies, Eunice Sandi Moyo and Sarah Mahoka — whose political futures now lie in the hands of Zanu PF’s politburo — has rattled the party’s Generation 40 (G40) group.
This comes as the top 50 office bearers of the Grace-led Zanu PF women’s league, who met in Harare on Tuesday, have also warned in a further ominous move that there could be more purges of senior party bigwigs in the coming days.
Sandi Moyo and the vocal Mahoka were on Monday expelled from the women’s league by the key organ’s top 10 officials, following last week’s nationwide demonstrations against the two by irate members.
The meeting of the wing’s top 50 office bearers subsequently endorsed that decision — referring the matter to the politburo for a final decision, which insiders said was a gimmick by the league to give the impression that “due process has been followed” in the matter.
Mahoka, who is famed for having publicly dressed down Mnangagwa in front of Mugabe last year, is the women’s league’s treasurer, while Sandi Moyo is Grace’s deputy.
One of the sources who is linked to the G40 admitted to the Daily News yesterday that the camp had been unsettled by developments of the past few days, which saw Grace jettisoning the two women who are said to be leading members of the camp.
“We don’t know what’s happening. We campaigned for her (Grace) and suffered much for her, but there is no way we can turn against her now.
“It is now clear that Amai (Grace) would like to be one of the country’s two vice presidents, even if this means stepping on the heads of the very same people who are loyal to her,” the deeply-troubled senior party official said.
But of even more concern to the faction, the bigwig added, were the threats of more purges, including the growing attacks on minister of State in Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office, Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga — who did not attend this week’s two women’s league meetings which endorsed the sackings of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka.
Some sources said Kanengoni-Malinga was currently out of the country, on official business.
Another miffed G40 source said it was allegedly clear that the women’s league was allowing itself to be used by Mnangagwa’s backers, Team Lacoste — who stand accused of latching onto the turmoil in the wing to attack the party’s political commissar and alleged faction kingpin, Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
This comes after Kasukuwere was on Tuesday targeted by several women for having allegedly tried to sabotage their demonstrations against Sandi Moyo and Mahoka last week.
On his part, Kasukuwere has blamed controversial Kadoma businessman, Jimayi Muduvuri, for dragging his name into the women’s league fiasco, charges which Muduvuri denies.
Interestingly, Mahoka has also fingered Muduvuri as being the source of her troubles.
“He (Muduvuri) has been saying on a video that he wants me and Sandi out of the party, claiming to be some co-ordinator of the project. I don’t know which Zanu PF organ this person is co-ordinator of because it cannot be the women’s league, because he is not a woman,” Mahoka told the Daily News on Tuesday night.
But Muduvuri — who is a fierce backer of the first lady — told the Daily News yesterday that he had “nothing to do” with the women’s league’s turbulence.
“I have nothing to do with the demonstrations, but I am against factions whether they are Lacoste or G40. We all belong to the president and Amai, and no one else,” he said.
In February last year, Mahoka brazenly heckled Mnangagwa — calling the stunned VP in front of Mugabe and other bigwigs a lame duck.
Mahoka and Sandi Moyo were also among the group of women’s league members who have been aggressively pushing for the revival of the debate about the need for a woman to become one of Zanu PF’s two vice presidents.
Their calls for a woman to be elevated to the presidency were seen as directed against Mnangagwa, as the appointment of Mphoko was part of the conditions of the country’s unity accord which resulted in the post of the second VP being reserved for senior former Zapu officials.
Sources had also previously told the Daily News that it was inevitable that Sandi Moyo and Mahoka would face the boot, after Sandi Moyo shocked the league by allegedly openly declaring her interest in becoming the woman Zanu PF VP, when the women’s quota system kicks in.
Analysts have also warned that the latest developments in the women’s league could be a sign that Grace is prepared to sacrifice some of her loyal allies along the way.
“At this rate, it will not be surprising to discover that Grace . . . has become emboldened to become the face of the G40, and the person to succeed her husband, and that she is therefore targeting those within the G40 who are also perceived to harbour presidential ambitions,” political analyst Dewa Mavhinga said.
“Also, it could very well be that Mugabe himself is the power behind the G40 faction, which from time to time gets trimmed to keep it from becoming too powerful prematurely, as the idea would be to maintain some balance of power between the factions, a hallmark of Mugabe’s Machiavellian politics,” he added.
Musician-cum-businessman and an avowed Mnangagwa supporter, Energy Mutodi, also said it was now allegedly clear that the first lady had her sights on becoming a vice president.
However, Mutodi said, if this happened she was likely to be a vice president to Mnangagwa, whom he said was set to be installed as Mugabe’s successor at the mooted extra-ordinary party congress, which could be held at the end of this year.
“Ahead of the special congress, the constitutional provision allowing for one of the VPs to be a woman must therefore be reinstated to allow the most powerful and highest ranked woman’s league member, Grace, to become Mnangagwa’s deputy.
“It is no longer a subject for speculation that Grace will be the country’s vice president, and no one can stop this.
“It is crystal clear that . . . Grace now realises her real detractors and is determined to ensure that action is taken against them,” Mutodi told the Daily News.
Other Zanu PF insiders have also said the turmoil in the women’s league could see factional re-alignments within the party.
They said the expulsions of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka were also likely to further fuel the party’s deadly succession brawls, which had escalated in the last few weeks, especially after Mugabe’s 93rd birthday interview with the ZBC, in which he appeared to slam the door shut on ambitious party bigwigs angling to succeed him.
Observers have also previously said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s succession riddle is fuelling the party’s deadly infighting, which is devouring the former liberation movement.
The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.