ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe warned that rivals within his ruling party must “shut up” and stop sowing internal divisions or face punishment.
“Those who are saying we belong to this faction or that faction, I say to them shut up. You belong to Zimbabwe first and foremost whatever you might say,” Mugabe said in a televised national address, flanked by his two deputies. “Shut up and let us not hear any divisive voices from you.”
Mugabe, who turns 92 on Sunday, has said that infighting could destroy his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. The party is being weakened by a power struggle between factions, including a camp that supports former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who was expelled and is seen as a potential successor to Mugabe, and those who are allied with the president’s wife, Grace, and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The rising tensions were highlighted at an attempted rally by military veterans near the commercial district in the capital, Harare, this week in which police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association had said in newspaper statements it planned to meet to discuss splits in Zanu-PF.
“We will definitely take action where we feel action should be taken within the party,” Mugabe said. “There is a need for a whip of discipline now to be shown and to be used.”