President Robert Mugabe has implored his two deputies Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko to work together to avoid building the impression that they were fighting each other.
By Everson Mushava
Mugabe reportedly made the plea in his official opening remarks at Wednesday’s politburo meeting.
Although Zanu PF spokesperson Simon-Khaya Moyo was not picking calls yesterday, politburo sources said that Mugabe said Mnangagwa and Mphoko were deliberately being pushed against each other by people within the party. He said these people were doing it for selfish interests and Mugabe challenged the two to work together to prove to the people that they were united.
“The President urged the two VPs to work together. This could include addressing joint meetings to show that they are not at war,” a well-placed source said.
There has been speculation that Mnangagwa and Mphoko are fighting as the battle to succeed 91-year-old Mugabe continues to escalate.
The war between Mugabe’s two deputies reportedly started to manifest through public fights over seniority.
Mnangagwa’s supporters believe their boss is the more senior of the two, despite the party’s constitution being silent on the two’s ranking in both the party and government.
Mphoko sought to set the record straight by making the position clear while addressing people in Masvingo in May. He had been addressed as second Vice-President by Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe and he stood up to dismiss such thinking, saying Mnangagwa and himself were equal.
Mphoko’s clarification of this position came a week after Mnangagwa told Parliament that he was not the former diplomat’s private secretary. He had been asked to explain why Mphoko was not attending Parliament.
Since then, the two had been reported to be working against each other with Mphoko reportedly teaming up with a group of supporters calling themselves the Young Turks or Generation 40.
Mugabe last month admitted that his two deputies were leading factions in the faction-ridden party angling to take over power from him and that party members were polarised along the two deputies’ factions.
While addressing the politburo last week, Mugabe said his deputies were being set against each other by certain elements within the party and urged the two to work together in order to unite the divided party.
“The President also complained about gross indiscipline among the youth. He said he was worried about the increasing number of youths involved in scandals and criminal activities, particularly on land issues,” a source said.
“The President said that must stop, adding that the youths found on the wrong side of the law should be arrested.”
Mugabe, the source said, challenged all youths to acquire land, be it agricultural or residential land, through legal means.