ZIMMBABWE – Dragged to a political fiasco whose spoils they may never see, hordes of Zanu PF supporters were bussed to the governing party’s headquarters on Thursday allegedly without the faintest idea of what they had come for.
“We were told that we are supposed to come here and hear the First Lady (Grace Mugabe) speak,” one Zanu PF activist said.
Another added: “It is the President (Robert Mugabe) who is supposed to talk to us”, and yet another chipped in: “No, we are here to support Cde Saviour Kasukuwere (party national commissar). They want to remove him”.
At the end of the day, most did not know the agenda of the meeting. However, it had been set and following threats by veterans of the liberation struggle reportedly rooting for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe, another faction of the ruling party opposed to the Midlands political strongman leapt into action.
Fronted by Kasukuwere and boasting within its ranks a reeling Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, the Generation-40 (G40), an ambitious faction supporting Grace, devised a counter plan.
They mobilised women from across the country and brought them to Harare ahead of a crunch politburo meeting to re-shape the agenda of the indaba.
Mugabe was left with no option, but to address the crowd, but not before Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka hogged the limelight with the political assault of the year, thus far, and the kind not seen since former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s departure.
They came, saw and heard, but most left awestruck after Mahoka, who is Zanu PF Women’s League secretary for finance, pulled one of the most daring stunts the country’s political architecture has ever seen.
There was also one Mai Mazai, another backside-swinging suggestive dancer apparently the group leader of a traditional troupe reportedly sponsored by Mashonaland West political godfather and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo.
The gap-toothed dancer had Grace almost jumping out of her seat, while Mugabe, Mnangagwa and his counterpart Phelekezela Mphoko sat in stunned silence.
It was a bolt from the blue in particular for Mnangagwa, but Mugabe’s non-committal response in admonishing Mahoka or at the very least defending his deputy “sold the Zanu PF leader out”.
“Why did he not say something? Why did he not straight away clip Mahoka’s wings? He (Mugabe) is G40’s godfather. It is his project, but this time, it is going to be war,” a top Mnangagwa ally warned.
But not all were impressed by what the ex-liberation party has become.
“That was appalling. I have never seen anything like this. Is this why they brought us hear? To humiliate the leadership of the party like this? To say I am shocked is an understatement,” an elderly Harare woman said.
A Women’s League member from Mutare interviewed by NewsDay Weekender said they had not been provided with food.
“We have not eaten anything and are hungry, yet we are supposed to go back to Mutare by bus just now. There are no arrangements for us to sleep over after the 200km journey. It is not good for some old people among us,” she said.
Insiders said G40 had printed placards denigrating Mnangagwa, War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and Mugabe’s Press secretary George Charamba. But they were reportedly stopped by the intelligence services.
“They were only stopped by the intelligence. Some of the placards were as blunt as ‘Pasi naMutsvangwa’, ‘Charamba ngaende’ and ‘Mnangagwa wants your position Cde President’,” a source claimed.
Before addressing Mugabe on the Charamba issue, Mahoka summoned Minister in Mphoko’s office, Tabeth Kanengoni-Malinga, to read an extract from Charamba’s interview with a local radio station.
“I did not go to school that much and cannot read. Kanengoni come and read for the President,” Mahoka said.
As Mugabe addressed the crowd, Charamba, who had hitherto not been seen, suddenly appeared, walked up to the podium and adjusted the microphone that the veteran former guerilla leader was using, amid chants from a small section led by Letina Undenge and Acie Lumumba of “Charamba ngaabve, ngaaende (Charamba must go)”.
It appeared Charamba’s short stunt was a show of defiance. A clear sign to Mahoka and her handlers that: “I am here to stay”.
But after yesterday’s rally in Chiweshe, at which Mahoka again openly flaunted her new-found power in the form of Grace, there is no going back.
Mnangagwa’s epitaph seems to have been written and for Charamba, only Grace and her husband know his fate. One cannot imagine when Mnangagwa, who has been Mugabe’s special assistant for almost 60 years, turned against him in his hour of need.