7./14. July 2016

ZANU PF expels war vets leader Mutsvangwa, Mnangagwa looses ground

Zanu PF’s elite decision-making body in between party congresses, the politburo, yesterday (July 6) expelled war veterans’ leader, Chris Mutsvangwa and 13 others for indiscipline, according to emerging reports.
The sword was always hovering around Mutsvangwa who Mugabe last March relieved from heading the ex-combatants ministry and replaced him with Tshinga Dube. He had been on suspension for allegedly denigrating President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace..
Mutsvangwa, however, remains as the head of the Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association (ZNWVA) that recently expressed its support for Mugabe’s deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to take over from the 92 year old ruler. War veterans however are badly isolated and divided, their influence in ZANU-PF having already waned. The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, which was once a fervent campaigner for ZANU-PF and feared across the political spectrum, is now regarded just as a welfare organisation with President Robert Mugabe telling its members recently that they should either shape up or ship out.
Zanu PF secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, made the announcement of the expulsions shortly after Wednesday’s politburo meeting. Even though he did not directly name him, local media reports indicated that Chombo had described Mutsvangwa’s behaviour as having worsened since his expulsion, in apparent reference to his statements as the war vets leader.
In addition to Mutsvangwa, the politburo approved the expulsion of 13 youths who had also been on suspension for reported indiscipline. “This means the politburo has fully endorsed the decision of the appeals committee chaired by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko. This was due to the severity of their cases,” he added.
Related to this development, ZANU PF-newspaper The Herald has announced that Mutsvangwa will also loose his seat in Parliament which will require a by-election in the constituency of Norton to be held. Zanu-PF is expected to retain the seat following a decision by the major opposition political party, MDC-T, not to contest all by-elections claiming that the playing field is not even.
These dramatic events also point to fresh and spirited attempts to reassign or kick out of the ruling party Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has already lost considerable ground to his nemesis in the past few months. The veteran politician is currently fighting the political battle of his life to keep his presidential ambition alive, but each week has brought with it fresh hurdles for him to overcome.
As the unrelenting war to succeed President Robert Mugabe grinds on, the throne seemed very much within Mnangagwa’s grasp when he dislodged long-time rival, former vice president Joice Mujuru. That has, however, changed as a group of younger politicians going by the moniker Generation 40 or G40 has bitterly opposed his presidential ambitions.
Within the ZANU-PF rank and file, Mnangagwa is fast losing influential backers. Just last week, he had probably his fiercest supporter, Chris Mutsvangwa — leader of the war veterans — expelled from the party. The ZANU-PF Women’s League has also not been fighting in Mnangagwa’s corner for close to a year now and, having already formally demanded that they want one of the vice presidents to be a woman before the end of this year, and the ZANU-PF Youth League too, chaperoned by Makoni West Member of Parliament, Kudzai Chipanga, are ganging from another end. Already, the Youth League has gotten rid of all Mnangagwa elements, with seven provincial chairpersons that supported him having been expelled along with some members of the league’s national executive.
Out of the country’s 10 political provinces, Mnangagwa’s allies have been vanquished in eight of them, with intense succession wars now being fought in Masvingo and Midlands provinces, where the Vice President dominates.
High-ranking ZANU-PF officials linked to G40 confided in the Financial Gazette that they want Mnangagwa out of the way by the time party members gather in Masvingo for their annual conference in December.
It is now emerging that G40 could be seeking to assert control of Parliament, which is critical in the succession matrix should anything happen to President Mugabe who is 92. A party insider said once G40 has secured the necessary support from parliamentarians, it might decide to go for the kill and seek Mnangagwa’s removal from office taking advantage of a provision in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. According to section 97 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, a joint Senate and National Assembly resolution passed by at least one half of their total membership may resolve the question whether or not the President, or a Vice President should be removed from office.
Following the explosive Masvingo meeting convened by President Mugabe recently, G40 hawks are now believed to be going for the kill, targeting Mnangagwa stalwarts, Shuvai Mahofa — the Provincial Affairs Minister and her Psychomotor counterpart, Josiah Hungwe. The two are accused of destabilising the party and it is understood the provincial party chairman, Amasa Nenjana, has been instructed to come up with written accusations to be forwarded to the National Disciplinary Committee for consideration.
Party insiders said Mnangagwa, beaten on the political front, was now concentrating on his government work and this is making him popular with the masses — the ultimate deciding factor in the fate of any politician.
One staunch Mnangagwa ally, while conceding G40 has an upper hand, defiantly said: “It’s a clever move, though, what G40 has done, but it has to be understood that one can win a battle and fail to win the war. It’s game on.” “The Vice President is currently spearheading the development agenda which is amenable to the masses, for example the food security project inter alia. Check what ED (initials for Mnangagwa) is focusing on: Alleviating hunger, ways of increasing foreign direct investment and all the work he is doing in the judiciary which falls under his portfolio,” said the official. (Financial Gazette, The Herald, Nehanda Radio, all Harare)

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