Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe made a passionate appeal Friday for unity within his ZANU-PF party while aggressively condemning factionalism that he said was destroying the former liberation movement ahead of possible elections latter this year.
Delivering a graveside eulogy at the burial of national hero, Edson Ncube in Harare, Mr. Mugabe said he was particularly unhappy with the vote-buying that has blighted the party's provincial restructuring.
ZANU-PF sources said his remarks were aimed at Vice President Joyce Mujuru and Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who are reportedly leading waring factions that are competing to succeed him.
“The leadership is transforming and becoming too materialistic," Mugabe told mourners. "That is going to destroy the party. Let us be like Cde Edison Ncube who never questioned the positions he was given.”
“We don’t want people who say don’t vote for so and so... you are destroying the party, do your work, let the people judge you if they don’t like you or if they like you.”
The two presidential aspirants, Mujuru and Mnangagwa, present at the burial, looked down as if in shame, as Mr. Mugabe made the remarks.
Their loyalists engaged in running battles in Masvingo province last week, prompting police to open fire to quell the riotous situation.
The waring factions have also been staging demonstrations in Mutare, in support or against the party’s Manicaland provincial leadership resulting in the intervention of the party political commissar, Webster Shamu, doubling as information minister.
As has become his norm during national burials, Mugabe criticized Britain for interference, saying the former colonial power wanted to recolonize Zimbabwe.
Despite advanced age and ill-health, Mr. Mugabe will represent ZANU-PF in the next elections that he wants latter this year.
He revealed a few months ago that he has not groomed any successor, a development political analyst Dumisani Nkomo told VOA, is contributing to the factionalism.