President Robert Mugabe on Saturday threatened to fire Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa after his wife, Grace, was booed by some Zanu PF activists while she was addressing the ruling party’s election campaign rally in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo.
Speaking at the Presidential Youth Interface Rally at White City Stadium attended by thousands of party followers, the visibly angry Zimbabwean leaders expressed dismay over the booing of his wife, who attacked Mnangagwa for causing internal Zanu PF conflicts with the hope of succeeding the 93 year-old veteran politician.
In a ZBC broadcast monitored from Washington DC, Mr. Mugabe said, “We are here in Bulawayo to make sure that what we do today will encourage people in Bulawayo to vote for the party. This is the second city to Harare and we can’t afford to be losing it. But what I did not expect which I had a bit of information about is that some people sent some persons to boo the first lady. She speaks her mind. We cannot keep quiet. We know in Masvingo there are people who claim the province does not belong to President Mugabe but to Mnangagwa. The same is happening in Midlands.
“We cannot have what is happening in Masvingo and Midlands where we are told these provinces are not President Mugabe’s but they belong to VP Mnangagwa. I am told that this is being done in the name of Mnangagwa. Did I make a mistake in appointing him as VP?”
The furious former freedom fighter had no kind words for his vice president, who is said to be harboring presidential ambitions and is using a faction of the party known as Team Lacoste in an effort to succeed him.
“Did I make a mistake in appointing Mnangagwa as my vice president? If I erred I will drop him by end of day tomorrow. If he and his backers want to form their own party so be it. We cannot have a party of friction and personal insults … Today when we have reached the tail end of the interface we get all this nonsense. I don’t like this.
“So, to the people in Masvingo with their attitude, you can go ahead and form your party because we honestly cannot have this. We cannot be insulted on a daily basis.”
“Please don’t use your positions to fight your wars. I am the First Lady I have never used my position to gain unfair advantage.”
His wife, who addressed the crowd earlier on, claimed that Mnangagwa has caused a lot of instability in the party as he has even allegedly attempted to force the ouster of Zanu PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, and Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, who are said to be spearheading a faction of the party known as Generation 40 that wants Mrs. Mugabe to succeed the president.
The first lady claimed that some Zanu PF activists were paid to boo her. “I don’t care whether you boo me … You were paid to boo me but I will say it as it is even if you bring soldiers with guns I will say the same thing. Stop it, whatever you are doing. There were demonstrations to fire Kasukuwere but President Mugabe noted that he did not commit any crime. He (Kasukuwere) is not going anywhere.”
She claimed that Mnangagwa is causing instability in the ruling party and as a result he needs to be disciplined. “I am leading the calls. So many people have been fired.”
The angry first lady further noted that time has come for Zanu PF to replace former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who was expelled from the party for allegedly attempting to topple President Mugabe.
“The constitution was changed from requiring one of the VPs to be a female when Joice Mujuru left and we put VP Mnangagwa. Now we want our position back.”
Mrs. Mugabe said a vice president will be picked from the powerful party organ, the Women’s League, which she leads.
Zanu-PF secretary for the youth Kudzayi Chipanga expressed the same sentiments, noting that the proposed ruling party’s Extra Ordinary Congress set for December is expected to settle this issue.
“Next year we are going for elections, every province requested an Extraordinary Congress to reaffirm the support the party has for you. The youth league supports calls for an Extraordinary Congress. We need to affirm our party’s position that you are our candidate for 2018 election.”
He said the party’s secretary for legal affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, should start the process of amending the Zanu PF constitution in order to create a post in the presidium for a woman.
“We don’t want provinces to approach this issue with dirty hands. This should be a collective decision.
Mnangagwa was not reachable for comment.