ZIMBABWE – Embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is apparently taking serious strain from the post-congress Zanu PF’s worsening and seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars.
Well-placed sources claimed in briefings yesterday that the Midlands godfather was increasingly feeling marginalised from President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle.
So perturbed is the VP, the sources claimed, that he allegedly felt snubbed and humiliated by Mugabe after the nonagenarian appointed co-deputy Phelekezela Mphoko to act as president for the second consecutive time when the country’s long-ruling leader went on his annual leave last month.
As a result, the insiders added, Mnangagwa had allegedly recently sought private audience with Mugabe in the Far East, where the First Family is holidaying, to both affirm his loyalty to the nonagenarian and to curry favour with him.
“Eyebrows were raised in both government and the party when the president named VP Mphoko as acting president for the second time instead of Mnangagwa as has been the custom so far.
“VP Mphoko was the acting president when Gushungo (Mugabe) attended the Sino-African summit in South Africa last year, and was again handed the coveted baton stick when the president went on his annual leave.
“This is why Ngwena (Mnangagwa) is acting like a cat on a hot tin roof and hot-footing it to the Far East to try and pacify Gushungo,” one of the sources claimed.
Mnangagwa, who is identified with a Zanu PF faction doing battle with the party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 in the former liberation movement’s ugly succession war, is said by his allies to have posed for pictures with the first family in the Far East.
“Lacoste (Mnangagwa) went and complained to the president that he is being attacked by Mphoko and (party national political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere.
“He used the opportunity to lobby the president and affirm his support for him.
“He is clearly keen to make the president realise that he is not the enemy but a loyalist,” another source told the Daily News yesterday.
Other sources close to Mnangagwa claim that the beleaguered VP is feeling particularly threatened by the ominous move by the Zanu PF women’s league to agitate for a woman deputy president — which could see him demoted to a lower position later this year.
The league, which is led by the influential First Lady Grace Mugabe, declared last year that a woman would be the country’s vice president this year and their choice for this position increasingly appears to be Senate president Edna Madzongwe.
Most insiders are agreed that such a move is more likely to impact negatively on Mnangagwa than Mphoko.
“It is now a question of when in 2016, not whether we will have a woman VP. Last December’s (Zanu PF) conference set a clear deadline that 2016 would be the year that gender parity would be realised in the presidium.
“Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing will stop women from realising their long-cherished dream, and that woman is likely to be Mai Madzongwe, and not Dr Amai (Grace), whom you guys wrongly accused of wanting to succeed the president,” one of the reliable sources recently told.
Sources have said that a new wave of purges is looming and that these will target Mnangagwa’s allies such as outspoken legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena.
These allies of the VP stand accused of “disrespecting the first family and fanning factionalism in the party”.
Seemingly unhinged State media columnists have also gone into overdrive over Zanu PF’s deadly infighting over the past few weeks, taking advantage of Mugabe’s absence on holiday.
“Bishop Lazarus is tempted to name names because secret meetings are already being held at that farm but this is the festive season, so I better show some love. But zvikarema ndozvireva,” one of them who writes for the Sunday Times said cryptically.
Another source also claimed that there was a looming Cabinet reshuffle which was sending jitters down the spines of Team Lacoste.
“When the president returns he will shake-up the Cabinet. He wants people who work for the people and not those who are aiming to succeed him and are causing unnecessary tension in the party.
“Watch this space, some top ministers will be removed from their posts,” the source said.