ZANU-PF leaders growing impatient to see President Robert Mugabe’s back must challenge him at the party’s congress in December and stop creating other centres of power, politburo member Cde Patrick Zhuwao has said.
Cde Zhuwao, who chairs the Zhuwao Institute, a think tank, was a guest speaker at the Bulawayo Press Club on Tuesday night when he was asked to respond to claims by fellow politburo member Cde Cephas Msipa that Zanu-PF was headed for a split if any of the factions positioning themselves to take over from Cde Mugabe did not get their way.
“He (Cde Msipa) says factionalism is very entrenched. Well, those who’re entrenched believe they’ve power right? If they’ve power then let them challenge for the presidency,” Cde Zhuwao, who is also the President’s nephew, said.
If any of the leaders being touted as faction leaders believe they can wrest power from President Mugabe, he said, they should show their hand at the December congress.
“If you’ve power and if you’re saying ‘I’ve got power to be Vice President or national chairman,’ then you should’ve sufficient power to be the President and you can then appoint your Vice President or national chairman. If you’ve that power, challenge! Don’t try to threaten us, to scare us. We know an owl has no horns (Shona proverb).”
Cde Zhuwao admitted succession-driven factionalism was a “real cancer” which was clouding focus on economic development.
“Yes, there’s factionalism within Zanu-PF and we need to deal with it. We need to deal with the cancer of factionalism,” said Cde Zhuwao.
Factionalism had created “a breed of political entrepreneurs” who create situations to forment hatred among comrades, he said.
The individual perpetrators of the vice, he said, were pursuing an agenda different from the party that looks at issues in terms of personalities as opposed to collective broad-based democratic values and objective engagements on issues
Fellow politburo member and Cabinet minister Cde Savior Kasukuwere, making an intervention from the floor, said if indeed there were leaders plotting a break-away, they were free to do so and the party would continue without them.
“Cde Msipa is saying there’ll be a split. Why? What has he seen? We’ve a President who was elected in by the country on July 31 (2013), all of you voted. President Mugabe was not elected to be immediately succeeded,” he said.
“We’re going for a congress, I’m supporting President Mugabe, he’s my candidate for President. Anyone who wants to stand against him, don’t tell us about the party being divided. If you’re coming to the congress, you’re coming to Zanu-PF. There’re no two Zanu-PFs. If you’ve yours which is about to split, Makoni (Simba) did it and is out there in the streets, Dumiso (Dabengwa) uko, (Edgar) Tekere uko. So that’s nothing. You’ll chip off and we’ll continue.
“The centre is standing even stronger now than at any other time. So if you want to know real politics, President Mugabe is here to stay as the leader of the party and we’re backing him.”
Cde Kasukuwere said President Mugabe’s loyalists could “no longer allow anymore this unnecessary confusion, people running around trying to look for power from somebody who was elected by the people, who has a mandate.”
He added: “Let him deliver on the things that he promised to the people on July 31. All those running around trying to look for power and thinking they can succeed him, they’re joking. We’re not going to have that nonsense.
“We’re standing firmly, he’ll be in charge.
“We’re supporting the decisions of the Zimbabwean people. On July 31 he got 62 percent, so who’re you to tell us that Zanu-PF will split, are you angry, did you want to be President?”
Meanwhile, Cde Zhuwao said the entrance of the First Lady Grace Mugabe into mainstream politics was timely, lauding her for challenging leaders to focus on development issues and fulfilling promises they made to the electorate.
“She’s able to speak openly because she doesn’t owe allegiance to anyone but the President. She’s talking about issues affecting people who nominated her [to head the Women’s League]. She’s putting us all to shame because what she’s doing is what we’ve failed to do. She’s leading by example,” said Cde Zhuwao.
He also warned the media against being roped into factional fights and urged journalists to abide by their professional code of ethics in reporting political developments.