ZANU PF youth league yesterday claimed Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was the second in command to President Robert Mugabe in a new twist in the battle to succeed the 90-year-old leader.
Edson Chakanyuka, the deputy youth league leader, in introducing Mnangagwa at the belated 21st February Movement celebrations at Kaguvi Training Centre near Gweru, said the minister was not only the leading politician in the Midlands, but was second to Mugabe nationally.
“He is our leader in the province and we don’t expect anyone else to come to this province and claim leadership. Our leader here (Mnangagwa) is only second to Mugabe. He has no other leaders ahead of him except Mugabe,” Chakanyuka said.
The statements that are likely to unsettle some in the ruling party echoed central committee member Victor Matemadanda proclamation that Mnangagwa was the most senior member in the party after Mugabe.
However, Mnangagwa appeared to be downplaying the youth league endorsement telling them to be loyal to the party and not individuals.
“My lesson to you is that you should be loyal to the party first and not to individuals. Loyalty should not be to Mnangagwa because the party is bigger than individuals. If you are able to be loyal to the party then it will be easy for you to be loyal to those who lead in the party,” he said.
Mnangagwa had praises for Mugabe saying some 52 years ago he struggled to contain them as they were filled with anger against the white colonial regime.
“Some 52 years ago we were your age and had energy and anger against the whites and Mugabe had to struggle to put us on the leash,” he said.
Zanu PF youth secretary Absolom Sikhosana called on the youths to allow Mugabe to rule the country “until he is tired”.
Mnangagwa has been accused of leading a faction in Zanu PF that is wrestling for control of the party with another one allegedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru in the event that Mugabe leaves the scene.