HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has finally admitted that his brutal purging of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies on untested allegations of plotting to oust him from power has neither dampened Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars, nor mitigated endemic corruption among his lieutenants.
Addressing his party’s Youth League in Harare at the weekend, the nonagenarian confirmed what the Daily News has exclusively and consistently written about over the past six months, that vicious infighting continues to disembowel Zanu PF and that vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko are locked in a nasty succession struggle.
Mugabe told the youths in a rare candid address that he had received intelligence to the effect that the party was polarising around Mnangagwa and Mphoko, adding ominously that people who were pushing for either of the two men to succeed him needed to stop doing so forthwith.
“If you are choosing between my two vice presidents, you are beginning your own Gamatox (Mujuru faction).
“They (the VPs) occupy equal sphere. If you say you want this one to succeed, you are already bringing division within the people and this so soon after our election.
“The people will choose when the time comes, and you will be part of that process, but don’t get divided by that question now,” he said.
He also admitted pointedly that many Zanu PF bigwigs were abusing their party positions and engaging in gross corruption.
“There are some amongst us who are corrupt .... Everywhere, there is corruption, corruption, corruption . . . With less business opportunities in the country there is a far better room for corruption, there is far better room for crime,” he lamented resignedly.
Responding to the youths’ request for land, the nonagenarian bemoaned the underutilisation of farms by party leaders, further pointing out that some new farmers were holding on to properties solely for prestige purposes.
The Daily News has run a number of exclusives and exposes on the ruling party since late last year, highlighting its seemingly unstoppable factional fights spawned by its unresolved succession question as rival interest groups within the party prepare for life after Mugabe.
Well-placed sources have highlighted the existence of a faction around Mnangagwa that is tussling for power with the party’s ambitious Young Turks, who operate under the moniker Generation 40 (G40) — with a few prominent ones among them also now derisively known as the Gang of Four and allegedly including party political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
Insiders have also claimed that to neutralise Mnangagwa’s growing influence, the ever-scheming G40, specifically the Gang of Four, has since allegedly moved to rope in Mphoko in the fight against Mnangagwa in a fraught political climate in which Mphoko has been vehemently asserting his equality to Mnangagwa.
A senior civil servant told the Daily News recently that in addition to the tension between Mnangagwa and Mphoko being “rooted in Zanu PF’s succession politics, another contributing factor was that the structure set up is not clear on whether there is a first vice president or not” both at party and government level.
“I sympathise with both men as things are only clear when President Mugabe is away and one of them is acting president,” the official said.
Another senior Zanu PF official said he understood that the problem was now so bad that Mphoko had allegedly recently approached Mugabe to complain that Mnangagwa was “always undermining him and treating him like a junior vice president” when the two men were equal, “at least in theory”.
In the meantime, other sources say Mugabe’s assertion that his successor will be popularly elected has given fresh impetus to the G40’s assault on power, as they appeared to believe that it’s “now open season” — and particularly given their view that Mnangagwa is allegedly “unpopular and unelectable”.
“The president may have unwittingly exacerbated the infighting in the party by suggesting that anyone can aspire to succeed him.
“The Generation 40 camp believes as a result it is now open season,” a youth official told the Daily News yesterday.
Apparently strengthened by the powers bestowed on him as the political commissar, Kasukuwere has also allegedly been using the party’s current restructuring exercise to establish the critical mass base that the Young Turks hope will get them into power.