PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is today scheduled to address a Zanu PF rally in Bindura to counter inroads by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) in his party’s strongholds, NewsDay understands.
According to top Zanu PF and government officials, the rally could be a way to prop up First Lady Grace Mugabe, who is set to resume her rallies soon as her Generation 40 (G40) camp solidifies its stranglehold on Mugabe (92), Zanu PF and government structures.
“She (Grace) will soon mostly likely start with Manicaland province and move to Matabeleland. The President will also be addressing (parallel) rallies throughout the year as the party looks forward to 2018,” the source said.
Mugabe’s rally, according to top party officials, was calculated to douse fissures threatening to tear his governing party apart.
This comes as the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) – the party’s mainstay — is divided along factional lines with its members reportedly plotting to ditch Mugabe as its patron.
Zanu PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson Dickson Mafios yesterday confirmed that Mugabe would officiate at the opening of the Ezekiel Guti University in Bindura today and later address a rally at Chipadze Stadium.
Commenting on the threats by war veterans to remove Mugabe as ZNLWVA patron, Mafios said: “We cannot have the (war veterans chairman Chris) Mutsvangwa story every day. We don’t want a person like him who creates a crisis for the economy when he is a crisis himself. We want people who are keen to build the economy, like the President.
“You can’t come here to tell us that the President must go when he appointed you. If he appointed you, he has the powers to fire you and you are gone for good. As Mashonaland Central, we are behind the President and we are confident he will lead us in the 2018 elections.”
Mafios, however, said Mugabe would deal with Zanu PF factional fights, the economic morass, anxiety and the El-Nino-induced drought as well as pay homage to the province for “steadfastly rallying behind him” in all previous elections.
“He (Mugabe) will first officially open Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University and proceed to address a rally in Chipadze Stadium,” Mafios said.
“He is bringing a special message to the province, as you know that it is the stronghold of the party. He will also address the political situation in the country and assure us on the agenda to improve the country’s economy.”
Mafios said thousands of Zanu PF supporters were expected to attend the rally.
The governing party is experiencing a new wave of factional turbulence pitting the First Lady’s G40 group against Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allies. Axed War Veterans minister and Norton MP Mutsvangwa is reportedly aligned to Mnangagwa.
According to party sources, Mugabe was likely to use the rally to lash out at Mutsvangwa, who recently addressed a joint war veterans meeting with his predecessor Jabulani Sibanda in Bulawayo as well as Mnangagwa loyalists.
“At the Bindura rally, the President will likely use the platform to rebuke Mnangagwa and the groups of war veterans and youths fighting in the Vice-President’s corner attacking the First Lady,” the source said.
The source added Mugabe was also increasingly fretting over Mujuru’s party, which was reportedly targeting Zanu PF supporters, and this could trigger several rallies by the veteran leader to woo back the lost supporters and expelled party officials.
Mujuru’s allies, on the other hand, said they were aware of Zanu PF’s “sinister plots” to curtail their campaigns through the use of propaganda and violence, but vowed to fight on and dislodge Mugabe in the 2018 polls.
After he was suspended and recalled from government, Mutsvangwa declared that he neither cared for his politburo nor Cabinet positions.