The Daily News learnt yesterday that contrary to State media reports that the G40 had received a heavy shellacking, it was in fact Team Lacoste that left with their tails between their legs after the explosive meeting.
In addition, there were suggestions yesterday that a new wave of purgings of some of the embattled VP’s party allies is in the offing, with the political careers of War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and his wife Monica, among many other Mnangagwa camp storm troopers, hanging in the balance.
Team Lacoste had approached Wednesday’s politburo meeting determined to see to it that G40 members were “crushed once and for all” and that Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo in particular “would be expelled and not live to tweet another day”, as an insider linked to the Mnangagwa camp had put it.
This resolve on the part of Team Lacoste, which is in firm control of State media at the moment, had been nakedly evident over the past fortnight in the government’s unashamedly pro-Zanu PF newspapers — with Moyo a daily target of the camp’s vitriol for the sins of his alleged “frenzied tweeting”.
However, well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that G40-linked politburo members, in particular Moyo and the party’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, had allegedly “outclassed the successionists (Mnangagwa’s faction) hands down” in the meeting.
Moyo, who apparently went into the meeting “with a thick file of damning evidence against the machinations of Team Lacoste heavies” , is said to have spoken for about two hours, defending himself.
“He was the first to defend himself, putting to the fore how State media had chosen to fight in the corner of a faction in the party, while attacking other party leaders. During the two hours of his defence, he cited examples where the media, particularly The Herald, was being abused by the likes of (under fire Information permanent secretary George) Charamba,” one said.
Influential First Lady Grace Mugabe and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who are said to be sympathetic to the G40, apparently also showed open contempt for the Mnangagwa camp in the heated meeting, including — apparently — when Mnangagwa himself spoke querying the motives of the women’s league who had organised a demonstration to coincide with the meeting.
“Mnangagwa even went to the extent of asking if the intentions of the women’s league had been to embarrass him when he was confronted by the league’s finance secretary Sarah Mahoka earlier, who asked him to come clean on his presidential ambitions.
“This did not impress many people, although (Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe) Mumbengegwi, tried to jump to Mnangagwa’s defence, claiming that the youths who were campaigning for him were doing so without the VP’s blessing,” another source said.
On his part, Mutsvangwa apparently spoke for about one-and-half hours, accusing the G40 of disrespecting war veterans and the party’s leaders.
“Kasukuwere, who was accused by (party secretary for legal affairs, Patrick) Chinamasa of sanctioning the summary suspensions of party officials without giving them the chance to defend themselves, also came out guns blazing.
“Chinamasa cited the Mashonaland Central case of former youth leader Godfrey Tsenengamu (an avowed Mnangagwa ally) as his prime example of this, but Kasukuwere would have none of it,” the second source added.
It was after this that the party’s national disciplinary committee, which is heavily stacked with G40 members and sympathisers, was directed to deal with the issue of suspended members better by bringing accused persons before properly-constituted hearings, as opposed to the current practice of summary expulsions and suspensions.
Reacting to factional and misleading State media reports yesterday to the effect that the politburo had only taken a dim view to the abuse of social media by members, Moyo said pointedly that this was untrue.
In postings on his Twitter account, he revealed that the politburo meeting had not focused on social media only, but the abuse of mainstream media as well, especially The Herald.
“Rega vaite. Very happy with how PB (politburo) meeting went. Going foward, actions will speak louder than words. Handei tione! (bring it on!) It was agreed after brutal debate that internal fights should not be taken to the press, including twitter & Herald!
“Yes & public fora includes @HeraldZimbabwe. Use of that paper to abuse party members had just gone way too far! Who cares about selective or self-righteous outrage. We are not children. We know what was said & why. Handei tione!
“@HeraldZimbabwe’s self-serving headline is not even supported by their own story. The Herald was discussed big time!” the technology-savvy Moyo tweeted.
One of his followers, a Mathew Dera, asked if the Tsholotsho North legislator would continue using social media, saying, “But certainly no more ‘crocodiles’ or burgers from dead crocos this time around, only Stem maybe otherwise you go herd cattle”.
In response Moyo said, “If people who are not PB members get funny in the Press, we shall deal with them here. Make no mistake about it!” he said in a retort that was believed to have been directed at Charamba.
Another one of his followers, a Tatenda Mashanda said, “Anyone who tries to prohibit use of social media is living in 12th Century mentality,” to which Moyo responded, “Nobody will ever do that. So don’t worry. Be happy!”.