A worried President Robert Mugabe has expressed the fear that his post-congress Zanu PF could be heading for another devastating split owing to the party’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars.
Since the brutal ouster of former Vice President Joice Mujuru late last year over untested charges of plotting to remove from power and assassinate Mugabe, the deadly ructions — now pitting supporters of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa against those of First Lady Grace Mugabe — have worsened.
The increasingly-frail nonagenarian admitted yesterday while addressing the party’s central committee in Harare that the former liberation movement was now sitting on a cliff edge as it meets for its annual conference in Victoria Falls this week.
“The problem that we now have has to do with personalities, people wanting to advance themselves within the party, wanting this position or that position and so we have a problem that threatens to split the party.
“Some are looking at the forthcoming elections and the elections are still far, they come in the year 2018, but the ambitious ones are working, some openly, some behind the scenes in order to place themselves in positions which they think will enable them to be elected.
“Some want to be in those positions now. Hazviiite (it’s not possible) just now,” the seemingly-exasperated Mugabe said and called on party bigwigs to be patient until the country’s next elections in 2018 when “we will all resign and ambitious ones can line up”.
He said as there was still a long way before the 2018 national elections, party members should not disturb the smooth going, efficiency and competence of the ruling party to remain in power.
He bemoaned the senseless bloodletting which he said was now confusing its general membership as different groups jostled for power.
“That group opposite to that, and we have all kinds of manoeuvres … what a shame. And then there are accusations across the board, this group accuses that group, another group now hits back saying A, B, C.
“That’s the information I am getting. In some cases one group might put a set of criticisms and then create this or opposition to that assertion and give the picture that there is opposition in the party,” Mugabe said.
“Then there are lies, manufacturing of lies, talking of the purported action of people which never happened. Kunyepa, tava vanyepi (we are now liars).
“Chii chiri kumboitika kumaprovince enyu? Chii chiri kumboitika kupolitburo (What is really happening in the provinces and in the politburo?” the visibly-anguished Mugabe asked rhetorically.
He said while there was nothing wrong per se with party officials being ambitious, there was need for them to use proper procedures.
“Chigaro ngachiuye netsika dzakanaka. Zvigaro hazviturunurwe samatamba, zvinouya nechimiro chako, nekudiwa kwako nevanhu (leadership should be assumed through good works and the correct channels),” he said.
Seemingly taking a cue from his wife Grace, who recently exonerated the private media in the party’s ugly goings-on, Mugabe accused his bickering underlings of feeding journalists with detailed inside information about what was happening inside Zanu PF behind closed doors.
“Tisu takutoita kuti zvimaopposition papers izvi zvirarame (we are the ones keeping the independent media afloat)”.
And in a move that insiders interpreted as a pat on the back of the G40, Mugabe praised the Zanu PF women’s league and the party commissariat, respectively headed by his wife Grace and Saviour Kasukuwere.
The two are said to have forged an alliance to block Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted ambitions to take over the reins from Mugabe.
“While credit for the good image and standing of the party is shared by all of us, allow me to single out the women’s league and the commissariat for working tirelessly in mobilising and keeping the party alive,” Mugabe said.
While acknowledging that in an organisation as big as the ruling party, differences in opinion were bound to happen, he called on the party to be united saying “there is no need of resorting to backbiting and character assassination”.
He further urged party structures to “remain calm, disciplined, and united in the face of the multi-faceted challenges”.
“Fighting within the party is not ending. Iwo mavotes of no confidence akadai kuuya aya ko nyaya dzacho hadzitaurirwane here (The votes of no confidence afflicting the party have become so fashionable, can’t you resolve your differences amicably?)
“And then those who think they know all, keep your own ideas to the party through appropriate organs. Kwete kungofamba uchingozhambatata (don’t just shout about), shut up your mouth, be disciplined and show us that you are a disciplined leader of the party and even if you have knowledge tell people in a decent manner,” Mugabe said.