THE attempt by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s backers to fight back against the ambitious Generation 40 (G40) group with Women’s League national secretary for administration, Esphinah Nhari, denouncing G4O members in front of First Lady Grace Mugabe has quickly backfired. The Women’s League swiftly moved this week to pass votes of no confidence against Nhari and another Mnangagwa ally, Monica Mutsvangwa, to nip the challenge in the bud.
Owen Gagare/Elias Mambo
The league also recommended the duo’s expulsion from the party, highlighting the vulnerability of Mnangagwa and his backers vis-à-vis G40 which is aligned to Grace.
While Nhari was sanctioned for the Masvingo slogan, Women’s League spokesperson Mutsvangwa was targeted for resisting G40’s manoeuvres in Manicaland. Using the power she has because of her proximity to the throne, Grace has been leading G40’s campaign to weaken Mnangagwa and eventually derail his presidential ambitions.
In the build-up to the Zanu PF conference which started with a politburo session on Monday, Grace has been holding much-publicised rallies countrywide to build her national profile while also championing G40’s cause.
At her last rally before the conference in Masvingo last Friday, the Zanu PF succession fight spilled into the public domain when Nhari chanted a slogan denouncing G40. The slogan was seen by Grace’s backers as a direct attack on her and the whole faction.
An upset Mahoka challenged Nhari to explain what G40 was, but Nhari stood her ground by equating the G40 group to the “Gamatox” element in Zanu PF. Zanu PF officials who support axed vice-president Joice Mujuru are referred to as Gamatox — a banned potent pesticide — in Zanu PF circles.
Mahoka then retorted: “Down with those who want to destroy other provinces. Down with those who talk about G40 while not explaining what that means. Down with those who talk about things they don’t understand.”
Women’s League secretary for security and Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa, a Mnangagwa allay, intervened by reprimanding Mahoka and Nhari.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko then joined the quarrel, contending G40 was non-existent and thus a myth.
“The G40 that people are talking about is a myth, can someone explain to me what G40 means and who is in that group,” said Mphoko.
He then said murikurova imbwa makaviga mupini, a Shona adage which means attacking someone using innuendos instead of doing so directly, before explaining that those attacking G40 where actually targeting President Robert Mugabe.
“If I want to attack the President, those who think they’re clever will say First Lady leads a faction. There’s no difference between the First Lady and President Mugabe,” he said.
He then turned on Nhari saying: “You (Nhari) are a grown up person and many look up to you for guidance. Now you are attacking the President. G40 is a myth, there is nothing like that.
“If I ask you what G40 is, you don’t know. As a leader assist the First Lady. You were so close to disrupting the rally, but you have no evidence of what G40 is.”
On Sunday Mphoko, who is Grace’s ally, suggested disciplinary action against cadres who insult Mugabe using covert means such as creating shadowy groups.
On Tuesday Grace presided over a Women’s League meeting which recommended the summary suspensions of Nhari and Mutsvangwa.
Their fate is yet to be sealed, although Mugabe spoke out against arbitrary suspensions of party members at the central committee meeting on Wednesday.
“Infighting is not ending with the votes of no confidence that have become fashionable. Are people unable to settle issues amicably? Yes, to those who are unrepentant, they can be booted out, but should be disciplined first. They should be warned before taking such action,” Mugabe said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said Nhari and Mutsvangwa’s cases were still pending.
“The (Zanu PF) national disciplinary committee has not yet brought the matter to the attention of the politburo. It (suspensions) was a recommendation of the Women’s League and the league will take it to the national disciplinary committee, but I’m not sure if it will be dealt with at the conference or at a later stage,” he said.