Harare ‑ Zimbabwean war veterans fired from the ruling Zanu-PF party have vowed they will campaign against President Robert Mugabe’s preferred successors as long as they were rooted in the G40 faction angling to succeed the 93-year-old leader.
The Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association made the declaration on Wednesday at a press conference in the capital, saying the G40 faction was anti-development, hence: “These people are not going to see the light of power in Zimbabwe. We declare (it) here, the war veterans.”
G40 is a faction reportedly fronted by defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, said to have the backing of Zanu-PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, First Lady Grace Mugabe, home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, youth, indigenisation and economic empowerment minister Patrick Zhuwao as well as higher and tertiary education minister Jonathan Moyo.
There is also the Lacoste faction, reportedly sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who himself was under-fire at the weekend from President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace for keeping company with people fired from Zanu-PF, using his poisoning saga for political gains and failing to chastise people mocking the first family, among a host of other accusations.
War veterans have, over the years, been instrumental in the campaigns for Mugabe to retain power every past election.
The outspoken Mutsvangwa, who in March last year after suspended from the party said he neither cared for the politburo nor ministerial post, on Wednesday told journalists that the war veterans were exceptional in organising strategies that would win an election.
“We are going to pit that impeccable record of organisation against the upstarts of the G40. This is the mother of all battles in politics” he said.
“This is the A-team. We gave him [Mugabe] victory in 1979 with [late Vice-President] Joshua Nkomo. In 2008, he was defeated by [MDC-T leader Morgan] Tsvangirai until the run-up. This A-team together with other stakeholders went back to the drawing board. We rescued the man who was in the jaws of defeat. The MDC crocodiles were chewing up.”
Mutsvangwa also lunged into Sekeramayi, labelling him a “born coward”.
“And do you know who had run away when he [Mugabe] was being chewed up and had to be rescued by the technicality. Sekeramayi, as one of the G40, was already in Beitbridge looking for exile in South Africa,” the war vets chairperson said.
“We had to call him back. Now he’s strutting around as a puppet of the G40.”
The attack on Sekeramayi came after he was seemingly presented as Mugabe’s successor.
During Mnangagwa’s attack by Mugabe at the Bindura rally, the latter had started his speech by glorifying both Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi, later to only attack his deputy.
And before, Grace had said at one point when Mugabe suffered a suspected food poisoning attack at his home, he asked for Sekeramayi to be called.
“He was sick and thought he was dying. He asked me to call Sekeramayi so they could talk before he died, but he recovered . . .” she said.
Also, Sekeramayi, who is the war veterans secretary in the Zanu-PF politburo – the biggest decision-making body in the ruling party ‑ was attacked for supporting a war veterans association reportedly led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene and George Mlala during the Bindura rally.
Mutsvangwa, who last year said he now had a general loathing for assignments that solely depended on an individual’s discretion, said it was “unfortunate” that Mugabe was “fixing the leadership on tribal lines”.