HARARE – President Robert Mugabe and his powerful wife, Grace — yesterday belted the warring Zanu PF factions before calling them to unite ahead of the much-anticipated next year’s elections.
The wily nonagenarian skirted other hot issues devouring his party and went straight to the heart of yesterday’s rally — unity, deciding to park the hot succession issue which he said would be decided at the party’s congress when the time comes.
Addressing thousands of party youths who crammed into Marondera’s Rudhaka Stadium, Mugabe chided the party’s bigwigs who hold secret meetings with youths to try and influence them in the party’s rumbling succession debate.
“There are those who meetings at night, visiting witchdoctors and that is why we are saying to (Zanu PF youth league secretary) Kudzanai Chipanga, you are the youths they come to seek your support, we don’t want that because it destabilises the party.
“If you are a senior official who is doing that I say Stop it! Stop It! Stop it, if I may borrow Mai Mugabe’s phrase.
“It also destroys you as a leader because people will be seeing that you only talk about your faction, you think I don’t know but I know a lot,” Mugabe said to loud cheers from the youths.
“However, I want us to be united and it’s not difficult. There is congress which has the mandate in line with the Zanu PF constitution. We cannot start fighting before the time comes. Be at peace, the time will come.”
Mugabe, 93, is the world’s oldest leader but is bidding for another five-year term in next year’s elections in which the opposition is expected to contest as a coalition.
The veteran Zanu PF leader is banking on the youths to deliver him the vote after he ditched his long-time storm troopers – the war veterans who issued him with a damning communiqué a year ago – after they got fed up with his government’s failure to improve their welfare.
“I have come here to thank you for the respect that you have always shown me including when you organised the million man march. The nation was shocked by the support and even some Sadc countries as well as the West.
“Of course I was boasting because of the support that you give me and even today I am shocked there are so many people when I thought I was merely going to address people from this province but I realised that other provinces are also here,” said Mugabe.
Meanwhile, Grace slammed the party’s factional tribal and succession wars which she said had become like a cancer devouring the party instead of growing it.
“Factionalism is one of our weaknesses as a party and it does not help us. We have to wait for the time to elect new leaders in an orderly manner otherwise we are confusing the people when we throw around several names as potential leaders.
“We must build Zanu PF into a big brand,” said Grace.
Mugabe and Grace’s calls for unity were made as there are growing fissures within Zanu PF, fuelled by bigwigs fighting to succeed him who have in recent weeks escalated their mindless bloodletting.
Zanu PF is currently deeply divided, with the camp which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, the Generation 40 (G40) faction, involved in a life-and-death tussle with the VP’s backers, Team Lacoste.