VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly went for broke at Wednesday’s politburo meeting where he “exposed” Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s alleged role in leaking sensitive State secrets to the media and foreign spy agencies as part of machinations to topple President Robert Mugabe from power.
BY STAFF REPORTERS
This came as Mugabe gave Mnangagwa the floor to clear his name and respond to “State capture” allegations levelled against him by Moyo during the previous politburo meeting held on July 19.
But Moyo reportedly hit back, claiming Mnangagwa was, among other things, behind the infamous Tsholotsho Declaration, which Mugabe viewed as an attempted coup plot.
The Higher Education minister also claimed Mnangagwa sponsored the formation of the stillborn United People’s Movement, which the Tsholotsho North legislator tried to establish in the aftermath of his axing from the ruling Zanu PF party.
Moyo also reportedly gave registration numbers for a vehicle allegedly bought for him by Mnangagwa backers to campaign in the 2005 elections as an independent candidate to debunk claims the VP had been loyal to Mugabe for 40 years.
Politburo sources told NewsDay yesterday that Mnangagwa grabbed the opportunity to crucify Moyo and his G40 faction counterpart Saviour Kasukuwere, accusing them of secretly conniving to whittle Mugabe’s powers by challenging Zanu PF’s one centre of power principle and leaking confidential information to the Press.
The under-fire Vice-President reportedly left no stone unturned as he sought to endear himself with Mugabe ahead of the December special Zanu PF congress organised by the G40 faction to decisively end Mnangagwa’s succession ambitions.
“He was aggressive yesterday (Wednesday) when he presented his response, accusing Moyo of leaking sensitive politburo and confidential government information to the media. He asked the meeting to reflect in 10 minutes of silence why politburo minutes and sensitive information were now always being leaked to the media,” the source said.
Mnangagwa, sources said, also demanded Moyo and Kasukuwere to explain why they were pushing to remove the one centre of power principle that gave Mugabe control of the party and government, if, as the duo claimed, they were happy with the veteran politician’s leadership.
“It was a gripping account of the man that Moyo is. His association with Western powers especially the Americans and that country’s CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). Mnangagwa identified Moyo’s handler and his code number as a source of information,” NewsDay heard.
“Mnangagwa gave dates of meetings and the information leaked from government and party gatherings between Moyo and his handlers. Moyo’s discussions at (local think-tank) Sapes (Southern African Political and Economic Series) and his introduction of (Defence minister Sydney) Sekeramayi as a potential successor to the President when the party policy has consistently been that there is no vacancy”.
Mnangagwa reportedly began his presentation with a video clip of Kasukuwere praising the VP’s contributions to the struggle and development of the country.
“It was an eight-minute video of Kasukuwere during the Chiwundura by-election campaign early this year introducing Mnangagwa as the most loyal cadre Zanu PF and Mugabe has ever known. Kasukuwere was shown extolling Mnangagwa’s virtues and at the end the VP asked how he could suddenly have turned against the President in a matter of months.
“He painted Moyo and Kasukuwere as serial flip-floppers. Moyo was shown denigrating the President, his marriage to a younger wife and that he had overstayed as leader of the country,” the sources said.
“Mugabe sat there thumping his fingers on the table and tapping his feet apparently in anger as Mnangagwa played videos and read from articles Moyo wrote arguing the President was no longer fit for office. Moyo, (Vice-President Phelekezela) Mphoko and Kasukuwere sat sullen-faced as Mnangagwa tore into G40.”
Prior to his presentation, First Lady Grace Mugabe had vainly tried to block Mnangagwa’s response to issues raised by Moyo, arguing they were sub judice since the VP had already filed a $3 million defamation lawsuit against the Tsholotsho North MP.
Mnangagwa, with Mugabe’s support, reportedly brushed her aside, saying the presentation would not touch on issues before the courts.
Mugabe reportedly stopped Mnangagwa from responding to the issue of the attempted murder of former journalist, Godfrey Majonga, which Moyo raised, saying the matter was before the courts.
Moyo later told the politburo meeting that he had accepted his mistakes.
“He argued that he had accepted his mistakes, including the Tsholotsho Declaration that Mnangagwa was part of. He accused Mnangagwa of dumping them at the 11th hour and having been behind the stillborn formation of a party after the Tsholotsho debacle,” the source added.
Grace then gave Moyo a pat on the back, saying: “I like Jonathan (Moyo) because he accepts his mistakes unlike some people here.”
At that point, Mugabe reportedly interjected saying: “We cannot have people who sell out like that. It is unacceptable that all these crimes are by one man. Only one man! Why? Why do you talk to the likes of (Sapes head) Ibbo Mandaza and his regime change friends?”
“The President asked why Moyo had never talked about the issue of trying to form a party on Mnangagwa’s behalf in the past (if that was true). He said the issue was irrelevant now and that he knew of G40, but not Lacoste,” another source told NewsDay.
As Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste faction moved in for the kill, Harare politburo member Cleveria Chizema jumped into the discussion, accusing Moyo of being a “long-term spy”.
“She pleaded with the President not to listen to Moyo because he has been a spy and worked with whites at Lancaster trying to derail the independence negotiations. Chizema accused Moyo of working hard to cause divisions in Zanu PF,” the sources said.
At that point, former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira joined in the fray, roasting Grace for selling out and dumping people who catapulted her to lead the Zanu PF women’s league.
“She was aggressive and challenged Grace, telling her that she was turning against people who helped her ascend to power. Mupfumira, who was fired by Mugabe said Grace had turned against her and Oppah Muchinguri, whose ministry was also affected in the recent Cabinet reshuffle,” the sources also said.
Mnangagwa’s allies said they were prepared to fight it out at the special congress against their G40 rivals.
“They (G40) have no support on the ground and if we call for a special elective congress, then we would want elections for provincial chairpersons, youth and women’s league. The truth is that most of the people imposed as chairpersons in provinces will be dumped and those who don’t support G40 will be elected,” NewsDay heard.
“The issue of a special congress was discussed, but seemed to have been smuggled into the meeting. In his presentation, Kasukuwere indicated that he had consulted provinces on the issue, but it emerged that only three provincial chairpersons had been asked for their input.
“The President said it would be unprocedural and then asked that the commissariat begins a process of holding provincial co-ordinating committee meetings across the country before the central committee sits to endorse the special congress,” NewsDay also heard.
Mugabe has already been endorsed as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate and would not need a special congress to represent the party at next year’s elections.
However, his advanced age and growing health problems has presented Zanu PF with a dilemma over his candidature in the elections amid reports that Mnangagwa, Grace and Sekeramayi were all eyeing the post.
Mugabe will be 94 next February.
“It (special congress) can be called anytime and if the requisite number of people feels it is required, they can approach the President or the central committee, which is obliged to call it. But Kasukuwere did not give reasons. It was a botched clandestine job,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo however, professed ignorance over the planned special congress.
“I issued a statement after the politburo and that is the official position. I do not know about the issue of a special congress.
We are planning for elections next year,” Khaya Moyo said. “If there are going to be meetings in the provinces, it’s a commissariat issue.”
Kasukuwere declined to comment on the issue. “Talk to Khaya Moyo,” he said dismissively.