A wary President Robert Mugabe warned his Zanu PF followers that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai could win next year’s watershed national elections if the ruling party remains locked in its ugly tribal, factional and succession wars.
This comes as Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable infighting has taken a turn for the worse this week, with the former liberation movement’s bitterly-opposed factions escalating their deadly succession brawls and mounting mega demonstrations against each other.
Addressing the ruling party’s central committee in Harare, Mugabe said while those mounting demonstrations against party bigwigs might have genuine concerns, their actions had negative ramifications on the troubled party.
“Yes, there may be grievances, there may be contradictions and there will always be contradictions, but when we leave our homes, when we leave our offices to shout at each other, are you aware that Tsvangirai and others are watching gleefully and laughing.
“Are you also aware that our enemies abroad who have always wanted to see regime change, who desire to see Zanu PF gone, are watching with keen interest and praying that at last the organisation we once thought was solid, undivided and firmly united, is finally cracking.
“So, do we want to give them that chance to smile and wish us death? What does that benefit us when we go into the streets to shout at ourselves?” the visibly angry Mugabe asked rhetorically.
The nonagenarian’s warning came after Zanu PF supporters held demonstrations in Bindura, Masvingo and Gweru this week, where they pushed for the expulsion of the party’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and two other ministers — as the ruling party’s infighting reaches a crescendo.
Mugabe said yesterday that these ugly party brawls were badly exposing both the former liberation movement and its senior officials.
“They (under-fire party bigwigs) might be wrong, but they are our leaders. So, when we demonstrate against them, we are demonstrating against ourselves and Tsvangirai will say ‘there they are, hear them.
. . We do not do that . . . We only do it (demonstrating) against the way we are ill-treated by government.’
“Let us give party organs and structures the chance to deal with these (problematic) issues. Rules and procedures must take precedence before all else,” he said.
Ironically, Mugabe had earlier in his address claimed that it was the opposition which was in disarray — and that Zanu PF was enjoying the squabbling within the opposition ranks.
“The opposition is in a quagmire . . . they have tried this and that to get together . . . talking about a grand coalition, but they will be in for a grand defeat as they continue to split.
“They will talk all kinds of languages and that is what Zanu PF is capable of doing when united . . . now they are turning their guns on Zec (the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission).
“They are making futile noises and as they expend their energies on such inane endeavours we should be uniting and moving ahead,” he said.
Last month opposition parties handed a petition to Zec, demanding its disbandment — arguing that the electoral body had lost its independence by allowing the government to hijack the procurement of biometric voter registration kits, and citing its reluctance to implement much-needed electoral reforms.
The nonagenarian yesterday also took a swipe at party bigwigs who are in the habit of exchanging harsh words on social media and feeding stories about the party’s goings-on to the media.
“The national leadership is also giving juicy stories to the media when they should be exemplary by not giving these papers stories or commenting on Twitter or social media.
“We can’t run a country and the party that way, otherwise we are doomed. These phones are now giving us problems,” he lamented.
Zanu PF’s ugly ructions took an ominous turn earlier this week when
Mashonaland Central regional minister, Martin Dinha, received death threats from his party foes.
The alleged threats came days after Dinha publicly called for the expulsion, from the burning ruling party of Kasukuwere, and his brother Dickson Mafios.
Dinha, who is currently in Dubai, told the Daily News on Thursday that he had received the death threats via his mobile phones.
“First they (his Zanu PF enemies) manufactured a statement purporting that it was mine . . . and now they are sending threats to kill me on my roaming lines.
“A female and a male called me and said usada kufira mahara (don’t die for nothing) using private numbers. They said ‘you have a family, be careful what you say’,” Dinha claimed further — adding that he would make a formal report to the police as soon as he returned back home.
Although once linked to ousted former vice president and now leader of the opposition National People’s Party (NPP), Joice Mujuru, Dinha is now said to be very close to the first family — a development that his associates claim has displeased some party bigwigs.
In 2015, Dinha also received an AK47 bullet and a threatening message telling him to step down or risk suffering the same fatal fate that befell the late Zanu PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika — who died in a suspicious car accident in 2008.
Dinha has also previously survived several other attempts to oust him from his ministerial post.
Worryingly for warring Zanu PF bigwigs, this was not the first time that a minister has received death threats. Last year, two Cabinet ministers also received death threats as the former liberation movement’s seemingly unstoppable ructions become more intractable.
Earlier last year, Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane found a bullet in his hotel room in Harare. The bullet had been placed on a headboard in the room.
Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao — who is also Mugabe’s nephew — has also received death threats related to his public criticism of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his supporters in the run-up to Zanu PF’s annual conference which was held in Masvingo late last year.