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Zanu PF Youth League Leader Says Media Fanning Party Factionalism

FILE: Zimbabwean war veterans who had gathered to demonstrate against a faction within the ruling Zanu PF party, reportedly led by the First Lady Grace Mugabe, vent their anger after they were dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannons in Harare, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The youth wing of the ruling Zanu PF party on Friday accused the media of escalating internal fights within the party, which is facing an internal strife over the succession of President Robert Mugabe.

Addressing a news conference at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare, the national secretary of the party’s Youth League, Pupurai Togarepi, castigated the media for allegedly fanning factionalism in Zanu PF.

Over the past month, Zanu PF officials belonging to a group linked to Team Lacoste, a Zanu PF faction allegedly led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Generation 40 or G40, another faction reportedly linked to First Lady Grace Mugabe, have been trading barbs over President Robert Mugabe’s unresolved succession question.

Togarepi said the media is being irresponsible in its coverage of the goings-on in Zanu PF.

Togarepi’s criticism of the media comes in the wake of threats issued by his deputy Kudzai Chipanga early this week in which he warned that the Zanu PF Youth League would march to the state-controlled Herald newspaper’s offices over its so-called lop-sided coverage of the ruling party’s internal squabbles.

The Herald is allegedly siding with Mnangagwa’s group in the battle to succeed Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for more than 35 years. Zimbabwe Newspapers bosses were not immediately available for comment.

War veterans allegedly supporting the vice president’s Zanu PF faction had running battles with the police in Harare yesterday. The situation appeared to be calm but tense in Harare today with a heavy police presence still visible in the capital city.

Several reporters in Harare criticized Togarepi’s remarks. One such journalist is editor of The Observer newspaper, Barnabas Thondlana, who says Togarepi’s utterances undermine the freedom of the press in the country.

Mr. Mugabe, who turns 92 on Sunday, has reportedly cancelled his traditional annual interviews ahead of his birthday on February 21st.

His spokesperson, George Charamba, who is embroiled in Zanu PF succession fights, is quoted in the state media saying Mr. Mugabe had pressing commitments and would conduct the interviews after the celebrations.

But sources in Zanu PF said Mr. Mugabe is trying behind the scenes to deal with the widening internal rifts in his party.

At the same time, a group of war veterans led by Chris Mutsvangwa that was assaulted by police yesterday for allegedly holding an unsanctioned meeting regrouped in Harare today to discuss issues affecting their association as well as the Zanu PF in-house squabbles.

General secretary of the Mutsvangwa led faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, Victor Matemadanda, said they were still in a meeting at the time of going to air.

Meanwhile, Togarepi said his wing was happy with its preparations for President Robert Mugabe’s 92nd birthday celebrations set for Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo province.

He refuted reports suggesting that organizers of $800,000 bash were forcing villagers in the drought stricken Masvingo province to fork out money towards the function.

He added that organizers of the president’s annual birthday celebrations were not concerned about the starvation being faced by the people in Masvingo saying those were two different issues.

Masvingo Province is one of the areas serious affected by the El Nino induced drought. Some villagers affected by the famine have called on the organizers of the 21st February Movement celebrations to channel the resources set to be splashed at Mr. Mugabe’s birthday bash towards averting hunger in the countryside.

Thomas Chiripasi Reports on Zanu-PF Youth League's Media Criticism
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