Zanu PF youths linked to opponents of embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave notice yesterday that their controversial “million-man march” in Harare — which is taking place as the ruling party’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars continue to escalate — was imminent.
The much-debated march, which the youths say is in support of President Robert Mugabe, comes amid claims that Mnangagwa’s allies have been working feverishly to derail the demonstration — fearing that it is aimed at the beleaguered Midlands godfather.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News yesterday that the imminent march was “undeniably divisive and will define Zanu PF’s future for the better or worse”, unless party leaders get a better handle on it.
Contacted for comment, a defiant deputy secretary for the Zanu PF youth league, Kudzai Chipanga, said unequivocally that nothing would stop the march, seemingly responding in kind to a scathing attack on him by a State media columnist at the weekend.
“It’s game on. Very soon, we will be announcing a date during the first week of May for the march,” he said, adding that the demo had “the buy-in of almost everyone”.
At the same time, analysts were agreed yesterday that the march had little to do with supporting Mugabe, but manifested Zanu PF’s worsening infighting and “smoking out Mnangagwa”.
Commentator Davison Gomo said it was difficult to think that the march was a pro-Mugabe demonstration as the president was not under any noticeable attack by anyone and appeared to enjoy widespread support within the deeply-divided ruling party.
“People are being simplistic in saying a million people will come to the march in Harare. The danger we have here is of a few individuals purporting to be speaking on behalf of a million people.
“And those participating in the march might do it genuinely, but not knowing exactly why they are marching,” Gomo said.
Political analyst Blessing Vava also said the march was a political statement targeted at a faction of war veterans and the Mnangagwa camp.
“It’s meant to scare those who are alleged to be angling to succeed Mugabe. What is obvious is that Zanu PF will abuse State resources to bus the youths to Harare,” he said.
Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu also said the march was about factionalism in Zanu PF, as its promoters were mobilising for it under the guise of supporting Mugabe.
“The youths are actually demonstrating against leaders in Zanu PF whom the president appointed and whom he leads and from a different view they are therefore demonstrating against Mugabe,” he said.
Consumed by factional interests and miffed by what they see as a condescending view towards them by the country’s former freedom fighters, the Zanu PF youths associated with the influential G40 faction recently told the war veterans leadership to “shut up” as the former liberation movement’s succession wars continue to escalate.
This came after a faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) linked to Mnangagwa suggested that the youths’ planned march was threatening to become a monumental disaster because they allegedly lacked the stamina to organise such a massive event.
Chipanga told the Daily News last week that the former freedom fighters should “shut up” if they had nothing constructive to contribute to the march, which the youths claim is to show solidarity with Mugabe.
“We will not wait for the so-called ideological lessons (from war veterans) while the party, the president and the country are under threat.
“We cannot afford to disengage from the battle-field so that we go to school because by the time we are back from school the country will be gone yet it is in the interest of Zanu PF youths and the country at large to see the president rule until death do us part,” he said.
Chipanga added that their planned demonstration was part of their “war in defence” of Mugabe and the party “against foreign and internal enemies, seeing that we now have more opposition parties than ever before”.
“Moreover, we have seen some of us selling out the revolution. We also saw what happened with the likes of (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru, Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa.
“We cannot afford to fold our arms under those circumstances saying we are waiting for (Victor) Matemadanda’s lectures.
“If war veterans have anything new to teach us that is not enshrined in our Constitution, then they are welcome because they brought the freedom we have now, including the freedom to march, but they should use the proper channels, so that the Zanu PF central committee can consider including them in the Constitution,” he said.
Chipanga’s stinging rebuke came after suggestions by Matemadanda that the youth league’s planned march was being organised secretly and that the G40-aligned youths had allegedly failed to mobilise effectively for the event.
“That is why some people think that this is a factional thing because if it is supposed to be a State occasion, it must be told to people who should help in time through proper communication channels and not to tell a person what they must do at a rally or try to character assassinate,” Matemadanda had told State media.
But Chipanga scoffed at the suggestion, saying Matemadanda should “shut up unless he has just been blessed with the gift of prophecy to predict that we have failed to mobilise even before the event”.
“We have since directed our provinces to report any problems they may face to us so that
we can engage those involved in sabotaging the event because we want all stakeholders including the women’s league and even the war veterans to be part and parcel of the march.
“We are well on course in terms of our mobilisation and I think Matemadanda should be someone who has just received a new (prophetic) blessing,” Chipanga added sarcastically. daily news