PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai will today be reading a strikingly similar script at their respective parties’ meetings, both called to address growing dissent, which pose a serious threat to their political careers.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai remain the country’s two biggest political brands, albeit both with waning fortunes and are afflicted by ill-health.
Mugabe was three weeks ago rejected by war veterans, while Tsvangirai faces a fresh headache after he appointed two additional deputy presidents.
To add to Mugabe’s woes, his government is on a daily basis facing pockets of resistance from within Zanu PF and members of the public hard hit by the economic meltdown.
Insiders said the Zanu PF politburo will also discuss the country’s deteriorating security situation, after war veterans recently ditched Mugabe and “anointed” Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed him, although the President’s deputy has distanced himself from the manoeuvres.
Mugabe’s government is also struggling to pay civil servants’ salaries.
War veterans, three weeks ago, stirred a hornet’s nest after issuing a damning communiqué urging Mugabe to step down and pave way for a new leader, leaving the veteran former guerrilla leader fuming.
Following publication of the communiqué, government launched a crackdown, which has so far led to the arrest of five war veterans’ leaders — spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya, secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda, political commissar, Francis Nhando, vice-chairman, Headman Moyo, and Harare chapter deputy chairman, Wayne Bhila — on allegations of authoring the document.
Today’s politburo meeting, according to reports, will also discuss pending disciplinary cases, as well as possible expulsion of war veterans fingered in the authoring of the communiqué.
“The G40 faction is baying for blood, they want other war veterans like Mahiya and Matemadanda expelled from the party,” a politburo member, who declined to be named, said.
“While war veterans and the communiqué are likely to be top of the agenda, there will also be calls for an early congress.”
Mnangagwa, sources said, could also use the politburo meeting to hit back at his detractors, among them Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene, who last week publicly dressed him down.
With Zanu PF virtually split between two distinct factions, Mnangagwa is accused of fronting the Team Lacoste faction that is engaged in a bitter war for control of the ruling party with the G40 group, which is said to have the backing of First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Chimene last Thursday called on Mugabe to fire Mnangagwa or call for an extraordinary congress.
The politburo meeting is also expected to deal with the cases of three suspended Zanu PF provincial chairpersons, Biggie Matiza (Mashonaland East), Kizito Chivamba (Midlands) and Ezra Chadzamira (Masvingo), while the issue of youth secretary, Pupurai Togarepi and the league secretary for administration, Lewis Matutu, who were deposed through no-confidence votes in February, are also set to be discussed.
Matiza yesterday said he was unsure of his future in the ruling party.
“We are still waiting and only last week, we were invited by the legal department, only to be advised that they would summon us at a later date,” he said.
Matiza, Chadzamira and Chivamba were suspended for allegedly trying to stop Zanu PF supporters from attending a rally in Harare meant to thank Mugabe for his role as African Union chairperson.
Togarepi said he had not enquired and had not received any communication on his case, while Matutu said he had been officially informed about his suspension.
“I only received the letter telling me to stop executing my duties as youth league secretary for administration last week,” he said.
“It was backdated to March 10 and for some reason, my local MP, John Holder (Zvishavane-Ngezi), had a copy and was used as the courier. He has interests because he thinks I am a threat to him, but we have since learnt that there is no justice in the party.
“Those in power can as well do whatever they deem fit.”
Zanu PF secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo could not be reached for comment.
For Tsvangirai, there is a sense of déjà vu, as he is once again faced with the spectre of a split, the third in just over a decade.
Today’s MDC-T national council meeting is set to debate the contentious appointment of Kuwadzana East MP, Nelson Chamisa and Warren Park MP, Elias Mudzuri as vice-presidents alongside Tsvangirai’s long-serving deputy, Thokozani Khupe. The appointments, effected two weeks ago, have ruffled feathers in the opposition party, with some of Tsvangirai’s lieutenants strongly opposing the decision.
An MDC-T standing committee meeting last week was reportedly aborted after only 15 minutes after Khupe reportedly objected to Mudzuri and Chamisa’s attendance.
She was reportedly backed by party spokesperson, Obert Gutu, secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, chairman, Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, among others.
Party insiders said those who fought on Tsvangirai’s side were secretary for elections, Murisi Zwizwai and deputy organising secretary, Amos Chibaya.
“Tsvangirai has resorted to his default mode: violence. The national council will be used to rubber-stamp his scorched-earth position and those who are against it will either have to toe the line or face the wrath of hired thugs and youths as happened to (Elton) Mangoma, (Tendai) Biti, (Welshman) Ncube and others before,” a senior member of the party told NewsDay yesterday.
“There is massive mobilisation of youths to converge at Harvest House and that is a recipe for violence. There is no need for such people to come because they do not sit in the national council.”
Gutu confirmed the national executive and national council would meet today to discuss various issues.
“Any unfinished constitutional business of the party shall also be finalised. Immediately after the national executive meeting, there shall be convened a meeting of the national council (and) it shall receive a report from president Tsvangirai and council will, thereafter, debate and discuss all pertinent issues affecting both the party and the nation at large,” he said.
Tsvangirai’s supporters, on the other hand, are reportedly baying for the blood of party officials opposed to his decisions.
Impeccable sources told NewsDay the MDC-T’s committee on legal issues met yesterday afternoon to tinker with the party’s constitution to sanitise Chamisa and Mudzuri’s appointments.
“The committee is chaired by Mwonzora and includes youth secretary, Lovemore Chinoputsa, Morgan Femai and James Mamore. They are discussing possible changes to the party’s constitution to allow Tsvangirai to appoint more deputies,” a senior official said.
“We are not sure how it will be implemented, seeing as he has already appointed, maybe retrospectively, which in itself will be illegal.
“Mwonzora is outnumbered, the rest are Tsvangirai praise-singers and will push for whatever he wants.”
Mwonzora had promised to call back for comment, but had not done so at the time of going to print last night.
Title: Mugabe, Tsvangirai in crunch meetings
Author: Richard Chidza
Source: News Day