PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s planned nationwide youth rallies have reportedly widened rifts in the fractured Zanu PF party following disagreements over the organisation of the rallies, NewsDay has learnt.
By Everson Mushava
Mugabe is expected to kick-start his tour of the country beginning on June 3 in Marondera as he rolls out the 2018 election campaign.
The rallies are being organised by the party’s youth league.
Secretary for youth Kudzi Chipanga last week urged all MPs in Mashonaland East to mobilise people to meet the President where 100 000 supporters were expected at Rudhaka Stadium.
Chipanga has ordered each of the 23 Mashonaland East MPs to mobilise not less than 4 300 supporters for the rally.
But Zanu PF insiders told NewsDay the rallies had triggered a fresh war between the opposing factions – the G40, in which party national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere is reportedly a key member, and Team Lacoste, which is sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
It is understood that Team Lacoste was reportedly opposed to the rallies, claiming these could expose the ailing 93-year-old leader ahead of the 2018 general elections.
The faction, the sources said, was arguing Mugabe’s health was in bad shape, hence, he could not be continuously exposed.
NewsDay also heard that some were reportedly afraid that Mugabe could turn the rallies to take potshots at Mnangagwa followers, while the G40 proponents were reportedly against the idea of Vice-Presidents addressing youth rallies.
“But G40 is opposed to the idea, which they think will be more like anointing Mnangagwa as the heir apparent. They think the rallies would be turned into Team Lacoste rallies to drum up support for Mnangagwa in the succession race,” a well-placed source said.
“The Lacoste faction sees the meetings as providing a perfect opportunity to market their leader, Mnangagwa, to the electorate so that he can have an easy task if Mugabe becomes incapacitated. They are not leaving anything to chance, to them Mnangagwa is a step in and should be given the chance to address the youth as the incoming leader.”
Chipanga yesterday professed ignorance of any demands to change the programme and complexion of Mugabe’s youth meetings.
“I am now aware of it. But if there is anyone who thinks otherwise, he should put his concerns to us in writing and we will respond accordingly. What I know is that everyone is excited with the youth programme that allows the President to have an interface with the youths across the country,” Chipanga said.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo last night said the meetings could not be subjected to any war in the party because they were organised after consultations with the President.
“The meetings did not just come from the blue, consultations were made. Zanu PF is an organised and disciplined party. The youths want to meet their leader and learn from his experience, I wonder why anyone would be disturbed by that,” Khaya-Moyo said.
G40 has been bruised by recent developments when its members faced expulsion from the party through well-co-ordinated no-confidence votes after the First Lady Grace Mugabe-led women’s league opened the floodgates by firing the wing’s deputy secretary Eunice Sandi-Moyo and treasurer Sarah Mahoka. Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo were also known G40 kingpins.
Kasukuwere also faced a no-confidence vote by Zanu PF provinces across the country, but his fate will be sealed by the politburo.