PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week summoned the Zanu PF Youth League deputy secretary Kudzai Chipanga after receiving intelligence that he was planning to attack Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa accusing him of fanning factionalism in the party during his address at last weeks’ million-man march.
Zanu PF sources this week said Chipanga was summoned to State House last Tuesday evening, a day before the march. Mugabe, who also called in Mnangagwa and Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, told Chipanga to avoid being used as a pawn in factional fights and told him to focus on helping to build the party.
“The president received intelligence that Chipanga was assisted to prepare his speech by some members of the G40 (Generation 40) faction. He was told that Chipanga was planning to attack Mnangagwa which would put Mugabe in a corner as he would be forced to respond,” said a senior Zanu PF official.
“The president then summoned him on the pretext that he wanted to know how the march would be carried out. Mugabe also said he wanted to know what message Chipanga would deliver.”
Officials said Chipanga, who played a pivotal role in organising the solidarity march, planned to call for Mnangagwa’s ouster from both party and government.
Mugabe, however, ordered Chipanga to change his speech and deliver a message which would emphasise the need for unity and rebuilding the party.
Sources also said Mugabe ordered that some scheduled speakers, such as Zanu PF Women’s League secretary for finance Sarah Mahoka, be removed from the list.
Mahoka, like Chipanga, is a strong G40 proponent and an ally of First Lady Grace Mugabe. The G40 faction has been engaged in a war of attrition with the Mnangagwa faction since the demise of a faction led by former vice-president Joice Mujuru in December 2014.
Mahoka in February attacked Mnangagwa at a rally organised by the Women’s League at the Zanu PF headquarters. She challenged Mnangagwa to come clean on his presidential ambitions, before equating his silence to a sitting duck, which takes no action even when its ducklets are attacked.
She shocked many by stating Mnangagwa risked dying, if he does not rein in those campaigning for him to succeed Mugabe.
“Mahoka was scheduled to give a vote of thanks at the end of the event, but Mugabe said she was not the right person to do the job,” said the source.
Chipanga refused to comment. “Comrade, there is no story there,” he said on Wednesday, before switching off his mobile phone.
The million-man march, which was organised by the Zanu PF Youth League, with Mugabe’s support, came at a time Mugabe’s leadership qualities are increasingly becoming under scrutiny from some officials in Zanu PF as well as the military and war veterans who have been a pillar of strength during his reign.
War veterans, the bulk of whom are backing Mnangagwa, in April told Mugabe that under his watch, Zanu PF had abandoned the ideals of the liberation struggle. They also said Zanu PF had abandoned constitutionalism and allowed a culture of greed and corruption to take root in the country. independent