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Sensing danger, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was apparently forced to beg for his political life in the warring Zanu-PF on Thursday, disowning restless war veterans and other senior ruling party officials in the process who have been agitating for him to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Consistently reliable Zanu-PF sources told the Daily News yesterday that the embattled VP had allegedly taken the humiliating decision of begging Mugabe for mercy publicly, saying he had nothing to do with the dissenting former freedom fighters and the campaigns of other senior party officials who are operating in his name, after the angry nonagenarian threatened to deal severely with all of his offending followers.
Analysts said yesterday that if the claims were true, this would be the second time in the last 12 years that Mnangagwa has left his most vocal supporters within the brawling ruling party hanging high and dry, without political cover and like lambs to the proverbial slaughter.
Zanu-PF is currently split along two main factions, one loyal to Mnangagwa and going by the moniker Team Lacoste, and another one that is fiercely opposed to him succeeding Mugabe and going by the name Generation 40 (G40).
Shooting from the hip, Mugabe reminded war veterans loyal to Mnangagwa on Thursday that he would deal ruthlessly with any dissenting voices within Zanu-PF, likening their behaviour to those of dissidents, and in the process invoking ugly memories of the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s.
A well-placed source who attended the closed door meeting where Mnangagwa allegedly begged for mercy from Mugabe after the nonagenarian undressing war veterans was adamant that Mnangagwa had “pleaded for forgiveness from Gushungo”.
“He read the signs well and rightly felt obliged to beg for mercy. As you all saw, the president was very angry and made it clear that the war veterans were being sent by someone to cause pandemonium within the party,” the Zanu-PF bigwig said.
According to another source, Mnangagwa — who enjoys the support of war veterans’ leaders such as Christopher Mutsvangwa, Victor Matemadanda and Douglas Mahiya — allegedly told Mugabe that people were “abusing” his name.
“He apologised indeed and duly disowned the war veterans,” the second source said.
It was not clear yesterday what the way forward would be for the usually-boisterous war veterans, who want to be seen as “country stockholders”. None of them would comment on all the developments of the past two days.
An angry Mugabe launched one of his fiercest attacks on his own party members to date on Thursday, threatening to deal severely with disaffected war veterans who are pushing for Mnangagwa to succeed him.
Addressing a Zanu-PF central committee meeting in Harare, Mugabe shocked party members when he described recent pronouncements on the matter by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) as tantamount to a rebellion.
“The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association was formed to cater for the welfare of our veterans and not to champion the struggle for political change, not to be the boss of the party and never to be the bully of the party, nor the entity to make the choices of who should be and who should not, never ever! source-bulawayo24