President Robert Mugabe yesterday gave the clearest indication yet that he might be considering firing some securocrats he accuses of meddling in Zanu PF’s internal battles to succeed him.
By Xolisani Ncube
Mugabe told thousands of ruling party supporters at a youth interface rally that the generals would be accommodated in government for them to continue earning a living.
“This is how all governments are run,” he said. “We respect our defence forces, especially those who are at the top. Of course they will retire but we are going to find them room in government so that they do not languish.”
An angry Mugabe last Thursday told military commanders to stop interferring in Zanu PF politics. He also accused senior officials in the ruling party of plotting against him.
Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo last month described Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga as a desperate politician in an army uniform.
This was after Chiwenga claimed Moyo was now a security threat for his sustained attack on Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged “successionist agenda”.
Air Force commander Air Marshal Perance Shiri also joined in the fray, launching an unrestrained attack on Moyo.
The two generals used the Sunday Mail and Herald newspapers that are part of the state media, which first lady Grace Mugabe yesterday said was being used by presidential spokesperson George Charamba to drive a wedge between her and her husband.
Meanwhile, Mugabe told the rally that he would not retire anytime soon despite pressure from within Zanu PF to hand over power.
“There is a talk that the president is going, I am not going,” Mugabe said to applause from his supporters.
“The president is dying, I am not dying and I thank God for having lived to this day. I thank God for giving me good life. I have illness here and there, I go to the doctors like anyone else but all of my organs, my liver, my heart are very firm, very strong.”
He told lieutenants jostling for his post to take it easy as he was still committed to hang on to power.
“I know that there might be some who have ambitions that they could also be president, I accept that,” he said.
“But I also think and recognise that having led the party for so long and having brought the people together, this kind of unity, a new man, they [opposition] will say it is now easy.
He said a new leader for Zanu PF will not stand a chance against the opposition.
“Even the MDC that is being led by [Morgan] Tsvangirai will say this new man is not yet known in the same way like me and the same acceptance as I have managed to get over the years,” Mugabe added.
“So, I would like to see if the situation is ripe [for retirement]. I would want also to see that we are united.”
Mugabe, who has been at the helm of Zanu PF since the 1970s, said he was worried that the ruling party was fragmented.
“But I find they [subordinates] are not united. Some are divided along tribal lines, and some don’t respect each other and some say we don’t want a Zezuru [leader] this time around; we also want to be in. Once you have that kind of talk then you are not going to lead and unite the party. I don’t have that kind of talk,” Mugabe said.
Zanu PF is divided into two distinct factions, with one camp rooting for Mnangagwa to take over and the other known as G40 now campaigning for Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi.
Earlier Grace told the crowd that the two vice-presidents and herself were serving at Mugabe’s pleasure. Her statements seemed to be directed at Mnangagwa.
“The three of us, myself, VP [Phelekezela] Mphoko and VP Mnangagwa serve at the pleasure of you the president,” she said.
“The work we are doing in the party, we are doing it at the pleasure of the president. Each time we err, the president can remove us from the positions.
“Let me tell you something, it is not the number of years you have walked with this man that matter but what matters is what we do during his absence. Myself, Mphoko and Mnangagwa, the three of us, what we do when you are not there, that is what is important.
“We were given jobs to do and we must concentrate on those assignments. We must do our jobs knowing that we have been assigned by the president and end there.”
She also revealed that last year she resisted pressure to lead street protests that would have been used to force Mnangagwa out.
“There was a time when I was called last year by some people requesting that we go into the streets in order to force Mnangagwa out,” Grace said. “I personally told him about it.
“Even if you can ask him here. I confronted those people asking them why we should do that when we are not the ones who appointed him.
“I told them that we are not the ones who appointed him so if we demonstrate we would be making noise and insulting the appointing authority in the process.
“That means we are insulting the president. I refused.
“People were mobilised against Kasukuwerre in all the provinces saying Kasukuwere wants to remove the president.
“They were saying we don’t want Kasukuwere and his brother because he wants to remove the president.
“Is that possible, if you look at Kasukuwere, this young man. You have a big belly but you are young, come here you two [Kasukuwere and his brother Tongai], can you dislodge this old man from the throne who is supported by this big crowd?
“We want to tell each other the truth. The truth must be told now. I am saying this because Kasukuwere is a minister, a minister who was appointed by the president and is serving as the commissar after being appointed by the president.
“No one has the right to remove Kasukuwere without the president’s approval. No one!”
At the last politburo meeting, Mnangagwa allegedly demanded that action must be taken against Kasukuwere over the slew of allegations levelled against him by the provinces.
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