HARARE – Zanu PF politburo member and Higher Education minister, Jonathan Moyo, may have added fuel to the ruling party’s burning tribal, factional and succession wars after he warned that a faction backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa could plunge the country into chaos if the VP fails to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
This comes as the party’s infighting has escalated in recent months — a development that saw both Mugabe and his powerful wife, Grace, making fervent calls for party unity at yesterday’s mega Zanu PF rally in Marondera, ahead of next year’s eagerly-anticipated national elections.
Moyo, who Zanu PF insiders claim is one of the kingpins of the Generation 40 (G40) faction which is fiercely opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, said on Thursday that the VP’s backers — known as Team Lacoste — could trigger chaos in the country if the Midlands godfather failed to land the presidency.
“It is notable that the political position taken by Team Lacoste runs against the grain of the nationalist agenda largely because they are divisive … but of greater concern to me about the threat to peace and order posed by the so-called Team Lacoste are the issues contained in a document called Blue Ocean that started circulating in 2015 and in an interview that … Mnangagwa gave to the elitist British magazine, the New Statesman, entitled the Last days of Robert Mugabe.
“These two sinister documents tell a very sad story of capturing State institutions and targeting certain individuals for extra judicial attacks, in as much as they threaten peace and order in the country,” Moyo said in a presentation at Sapes Trust.
“The Team Lacoste faction is presenting itself in general and the Vice President Mnangagwa as a shoo-in … if you read things, talk to people, look at their behaviour, the message is, the balance of forces has shifted and what we are going to see going forward is the assumption of power by the Team Lacoste faction.
“They are masters of whispers and you find them saying tapinda tapinda (we are in), and the refrain, when you develop an interest is mudhara achauya (a song by Jah Prayzah whose literal translation means the old man is coming).
“The so-called Team Lacoste poses a serious threat to the nationalist programme … the time has come for the silent majority to stand up and speak up.
“Silence must not be an option for those who support the President otherwise you will wake-up to something tomorrow and you will regret. People who say they are on the verge of taking power must be subjected to scrutiny,” Moyo added.
Not for the first time, the stunning remarks by a senior Zanu PF official — publicly warning about the dangers of the ruling party’s worsening succession wars — caught many by surprise, and may serve to harden boiling intra-party emotions.
In February, the country’s opposition also warned that Zanu PF’s worsening factional, tribal and succession wars could plunge the country into a civil war.
Former Finance minister and now leader of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Tendai Biti, said then that Mugabe’s unwillingness to groom a successor, was a ticking time bomb which could destroy the country.
This was after Mugabe had said pointedly in his birthday interview with the ZBC that no one in his warring ruling party was worthy of succeeding him, while at the same time praising Grace.
“Mugabe’s recent utterances in which he denigrated his deputies, defining them as unfit to hold office if he leaves is not only reckless but should not have been said at this volatile stage. If all this is not managed carefully, the country’s delicate transition will result in chaos,” Biti warned then.
“The current environment is volatile and contains many ingredients for a civil war. The toxic hate speech that is being exchanged every day across the Zanu PF factions is at the same level with that witnessed before the genocide in Rwanda.
“The fact that the Lacoste faction includes the military makes it dangerous for Mugabe to try and impose his wife in a process which must normally be determined by a democratic election. Mugabe has always deprived the people of Zimbabwe their right to freely choose,” Biti added.
Moyo on Thursday exposed the extent to which Zanu PF is being devoured by its deepening infighting, confirming what the Daily News has been writing about accurately for more than two years, that the ruling party had now split into two distinctive camps.
“There are two parties in Zanu PF, the first is successionists who are a minority in the ruling party but who are very vocal and now openly say they are backing (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa to succeed … Mugabe and they would like to see this happening before the next elections and they would like to see the vice president as the party candidate.
“The loyalists are the silent majority who support…Mugabe to serve his full term in accordance with the Constitution,” said Moyo.
Yesterday, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said it was now even more concerned by Zanu PF’s worsening infighting, which it said needed to be checked urgently.
“As the country’s largest and most popular political party, we are very concerned by the threat to national security that is posed by the deadly factional fights that are taking place within the collapsing Zanu PF regime.
“Mugabe should have sorted out the succession politics in his crumbling party several years ago. Now, he has left it too late. Things are falling apart within the Zanu PF regime and the centre can no longer hold,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
“It’s now dog eat dog in the collapsing Zanu PF dictatorship. It is actually possible that the country will degenerate into a very bloody civil war if the factionalism that is tearing the regime apart is not attended to urgently.
“Both factions have got access to arms of war and the security of the state is put in grave danger should the factional fighting boil over into a physical confrontation which is quite possible,” Gutu warned.
Since the images of Mnangagwa holding a coffee mug written (I Am The Boss) emerged in the public domain in January, the G40 faction has been interpreting this as the VP’s open statement that he has unbridled presidential ambitions.
Zanu PF insiders have consistently told the Daily News that underlying the former liberation movement’s deadly and seemingly unstoppable tribal and factional wars is its unresolved succession question, with the G40 faction doing everything possible to torpedo Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential ambitions.
Mugabe has studiously refused to name a successor, arguing that his party should rather follow what he sees as a more democratic process, to manage his succession via a congress.