BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/ PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
NEW information emerging from the halls of Zanu PF indicates that the current factional fighting within the ruling party stems from a 2017 power-sharing deal gone awry, NewsDay got together.
Pressure is mounting on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hand over power to his deputy Constantino Chiwenga because, according to the fundamentals of the November 2017 coup that toppled the late former President Robert Mugabe, he was supposed to serve one term then hand over power to the former army general, some former Zanu PF members claimed.
However, Mnangagwa has indicated he will run for a second term, with his allies pushing to declare him president for life, further widening the rift between the two.
The latest cracks come as Mnangagwa has turned to several religious groups for support.
Over the past week, disgruntled serving and ex-Zanu PF members have amplified calls for Mnangagwa to step down, in what analysts have described as confirmation of the implosion of factionalism in the second republic.
Interestingly, ex-Zanu PF members use the same scenario applied during the build-up to Mugabe’s overthrow, which ultimately led to Mnangagwa’s takeover following the coup.
This scenario is also the one that has torn Zanu PF apart since the 1990s when loyal party cadres such as the late Edgar Tekere had to leave the party to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, following discontent over Mugabe’s long stay in power. .
A former Zanu PF youth leader, Jim Kunaka, said Mnangagwa should honor the 2017 coup deal and hand over power to Chiwenga.
“If they had agreed with General Chiwenga that he would give him five years to rule, what made him change today, that he refuses to give him a chance? There is no need to go to congress,” Kunaka, who now represents the Zanu PF Original, said yesterday.
“He (Mnangagwa) must honor what he agreed with Chiwenga that he would rule for one term. He has already created parallel structures – Varakashi, Young Women for ED, Men BelievED… These are now people who are loyal to him and not the organization itself,” Kunaka added.
Former Zanu PF youth commissioner Godfrey Tsenengamu, who now leads Zimbabwe’s Economic Empowerment Front party, warned on Wednesday that Mnangagwa would lose the 2023 poll.
Tsenengamu was sacked from the ruling party following a ‘name and shame’ sting operation aimed at exposing the corrupt party
“It will be shameful if you don’t change the way you do things. Come 2023, you won’t win if you’re the nominee. Even if you fight me, you won’t win. Those near Mnangagwa, tell them the madman said stop your bad manners. You are not going anywhere. If we reach 2023 and you are a candidate, you will not win. The only thing you can do is redeem yourself with certain people,” he said.
Zanu PF’s director of information, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, condemned attempts “by individuals to demand the unconstitutional removal of President Mnangagwa”.
He dismissed allegations of rivalry between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga as false and warned Kunaka and Tsenengamu that they were “playing with fire”.
“The mere fact of seeking to invite our esteemed defense forces into these baseless claims is most regrettable. As News Director, I remind the public to ignore the two embattled renegades and those behind them, as they are no longer members of Zanu PF.
“While people are expected to be excited, playing with fire is beyond our limits. It is one thing to criticize Cde Mnangagwa as President and First Secretary of Zanu PF and quite another to call for the unconstitutional removal of His Excellency, Cde Mnangagwa as President of Zimbabwe. To attempt the latter, expressly or implicitly, would be to demand tragic consequences,” Mugwadi charged.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the latest developments confirmed a serious lack of cohesion within Zanu PF.
“These statements confirm a couple of things, which are the elite discohesion within the Zanu PF faction that rules the country; limited progress in attempts to reunite Zanu PF factions after the 2017 coup; and the growing call from the youth of Zanu PF and Zimbabwe in general for the former rulers to rest and allow the youth to take the wheel in line with the country’s young and burgeoning population,” said Saungweme.
“But that’s where it ends – mainly the Zanu PF reconfiguration of power demands and factional fighting. Very few of these Zanu PF activists have anything to do with the need for democracy and total change in Zimbabwe.
Another analyst, Rashweat Mukundu, said statements from Kunaka and Tsenengamu showed Mnangwga’s support was waning.
“There is no doubt that politics are heating up in Zanu PF ahead of the elective congress. Confidence in ED both as a national leader and as an eligible person is at rock bottom and other potential leaders, including Chiwenga, may be weighing their chances, hence all these statements and Kunaka and Tsenengamu groups,” Mukundu said.
Mnangagwa has stepped up his re-election campaign by pledging churches to gain political advantage over his rivals as the race for the 2023 plebiscite heats up.
On Saturday, the Zanu PF leader attended a church service during the Apostolic Sect Johanne Marange’s Passover service held in Mafararikwa at St Noah’s Shrine, where he urged thousands of worshipers present to support him .
Last month, Mnangagwa joined congregants of the African Apostolic Church led by Paul Mwazha in Chirumanzu, Midlands Province, where he also appealed for his support in the upcoming polls in 2023.
There are indications that the Zanu PF leader is also expected to host a Zion Christian Church conference at Defe in Gokwe next month.
The church is led by Néhémie Mutendi.
It is reminiscent of the era of the late former President Robert Mugabe, when the ruling party visited churches to garner support.
At the Marange shrine, Mnangagwa praised the leaders, describing them as champions of peace.
“I was invited to come to this party at the beginning of April. My friend, the late St Noah phoned and asked to see me at the State House and he came over and we met. He prayed. I was shocked and saddened by his death,” he said.
“When I heard the news of his death, I couldn’t believe it because we had met the month before. He was with his son, the new high priest. I didn’t know he was introducing me to the new church leader
“Despite his youth, High Priest Nimrod showed great leadership qualities as evidenced by his successful organization of this year’s Passover gathering. I have never addressed such a large crowd and I am short of words.
The apostolic sect Johanne Marange has, however, been accused of condoning child marriage, which women’s rights activists are fighting to eradicate.
Information Ministry Secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana called Mnangagwa’s visit to the Marange shrine a “great day”.
“Today is a great day, High Priest St Nimrod sits with the Head of State,” Mangwana posted on Twitter.
“This government was prophesied in 1957, so the Holy Spirit works hand in hand with the leaders. Blessed are those who have witnessed this day, let us rejoice in it.
The Zanu PF has since under Mugabe been accused of using religious leaders to control civil unrest amid socio-economic unrest.
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