Grace T-shirts brawl jolts Zanu PF


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ZIMBABWE – Zanu PF was thrown into fresh turmoil, as it has launched a witch-hunt on suspected faction leaders, who incited their supporters to engage in violence against fellow party members and caused ugly scenes at the burial of national hero, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu at the National Heroes’ Acre on Saturday.
Party commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday vowed to leave no stone unturned in the search for culprits behind the physical attack on party members who went to the burial wearing campaign T-shirts carrying President Robert Mugabe and the late former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s picture on the front and a message praising First Lady Grace Mugabe on the back.This comes amid reports that the T-shirts were printed by a faction against Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who are taking advantage of his widely condemned gaffe, where he insinuated Nkomo was a “sell-out”.

“We will look into it and investigate the circumstances,” Kasukuwere, who has been accused of being the mastermind behind the campaign against Mnangagwa, said.

“We cannot allow violence within out party. If anyone has an issue, they must come forward and not act in such manner. We will go to the bottom of it and establish what happened.”

Supporters of rival Zanu PF camps fought running battles last Saturday as Ndlovu’s body was being lowered into the grave, with members of the vigilante National Youth Service, also known as Border Gezi youths, said to have been angered by the messages on the T-shirts.

The Border Gezi youths demanded those wearing the T-shirts to remove them or face the consequences, as they also turned the heat on Harare South MP Shadreck Mashayamombe for distributing the regalia.

Mashayamombe, who is Zanu PF Harare provincial commissar, defended the wearing of the T-shirts, saying: “What is wrong with having T-shirts that call for unity in the party? What is wrong with having our President and the late Vice-President (on the T-shirts)?”

However, Mnangagwa loyalists, mostly Border Gezi youths, questioned the agenda behind the messages on the T-shirts.

Two weeks ago, Mnangagwa’s backers allegedly organised an anti-Kasukuwere demo at the Zanu PF headquarters, but it flopped.

Other politburo members who witnessed Saturday’s ugly scenes said they would press the party’s commissariat and security departments to flush out the rogue elements and haul them for disciplinary hearings.

“We are looking forward to a detailed report from the political commissar and the secretary for security,” one senior official who requested anonymity said.

“We cannot be seen to be promoting violence among ourselves especially where the names of our respected late Vice-President Nkomo, President Mugabe and the First Lady are mentioned.”

Another politburo member added: “How can one threaten to beat up and tear T-shirts that have such people? There is an ulterior motive behind that which should be exposed and as a party, we should be seen to be acting and dealing with such rubbish.

“Since last year, we have been using the First Lady in our slogans and party regalia. What could be the problem now?

“This is an act of misconduct that should be dealt with accordingly.

“When we came to the Heroes’ Acre, we were coming to pay our last respects to our hero and not picking unnecessary fights with drunken youths acting on behalf of nameless leaders.”

Political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza said this shows that Zanu PF has imploded and that the centre was no longer holding.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political analyst, Eldred Masunungure said such petty fights were likely to remain a permanent feature in Zanu PF until Mugabe left office.

“The reality is that these internal frictions are going to be continuously escalating until the critical juncture when the President leaves office or anoints his successor,” he said.

“Until then, there will be endless friction and that will be a permanent feature of Zanu PF’s life before a successor takes over. As we move towards a conference, some factions will want to be strategically located too to fighting will continue.”

Another analyst, Pedzisai Ruhanya said the fights were a manifestation of the long unresolved succession problem.

He said the fights were now taking an ethnic dimension, which implied that anyone outside of Mashonaland provinces was not Presidential material.

“What these people have avoided to address in succession politics are ethnic fault lines in the succession race,” he said.
“There is a belief that power should remain in Mashonaland provinces and that is going to destroy Zanu PF for good.”

Ruhanya described as “warped thinking” suggestions that the President should be replaced by his wife.

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