HARARE – Warring factions in President Robert Mugabe’s bitterly-divided post-congress Zanu PF are hurtling towards bloody clashes as the party’s militant Young Turks, known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, take on an equally radical new faction that calls itself the Revolutionary Guards.

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By Helen Kadirire

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Kasukuwere

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The seemingly ever-scheming G40, whose presumptive leader is the ruling party’s combative national political commissar and Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, stand accused of being impatient, harbouring “over-weening” ambition and plotting to oust the former liberation movement’s old guard from power, including Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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Its Zanu PF foes also claim that the G40 have “recruited” and are abusing Mugabe’s controversial wife Grace, as well as the other vice president Phelekezela Mphoko, in their “dirty scheme” — first to thwart Mnangagwa’s alleged presidential ambitions, and then to oust the entire “liberation brigade” from power.

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As if to confuse the ever fluid and chaotic state of affairs within the imploding Zanu PF, well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that the Revolutionary Guards — apparently led by war veterans — were “not exactly pro-Mnangagwa, but decidedly more sympathetic” to the embattled VP than they were to Kasukuwere, whose Zanu PF enemies appear to be swelling by the day.

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To the chagrin of the old guard, the G40 group has in the past exploited its access to State media to project itself as the only viable representatives of a “new” Zanu PF, while using this influence to malign anyone associated with Mnangagwa — as the party’s ugly war to succeed the increasingly frail Mugabe got dirtier.

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As first exclusively reported by the Daily News this week, the Revolutionary Guards are set to march to the Zanu PF headquarters today for an anti-Kasukuwere protest to press home their concerns over the political commissar’s alleged “unbridled ambition for high office” as well as his role in the “confusion and unnecessary fights” that continue to disembowel the ruling party.

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At the same time, Kasukuwere’s supporters are also said to be mobilising not only to counter today’s demo, if it goes ahead, but also to agitate against Mnangagwa — taking advantage of their access to Grace in the process by manipulating her to ensure that her nonagenarian husband addresses their march and condemns the under fire VP.

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The Daily News was also reliably told yesterday that the Kasukuwere group will call on Mnangagwa to resign and urge Mugabe to fire him, claiming that he is “worse” than former Vice President Joice Mujuru.

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If Grace is actively participating in all these plots, it means that she is pulling the strings from outside Zimbabwe, with sources saying she is currently in Singapore where she went for yet-to-be-disclosed reasons.

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But a senior Zanu PF official who spoke to the Daily News yesterday confirmed the plans regarding the two opposite demonstrations, adding that he feared the situation could get out hand and result in “serious violence” and further divisions in the warring ruling party.

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“Factionalism has worsened since Mai Mujuru was purged from the party. Among many other camps, these two (G40 and Mnangagwa’s supporters) are desperate to grab power once Mugabe is gone. The demo against Kasukuwere, which is slated for tomorrow (today) is expected to go on, although I understand that are a number of people in that group are developing cold feet because the president (Mugabe) is opposed to it. But buses have been hired and thousands of people have been mobilised to demonstrate against Tyson (Kasukuwere’s nickname).

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“Those who are developing cold feet know that they are coming up against a formidable force in the form of Dr Amai (Grace First), who is issuing instructions from wherever she is that Ngwena (Mnangagwa) will go. This has put the president in a corner as he adores Ngwena, but one thing for sure is that one of them (between Mnangagwa and Kasukuwere) has to go. The demos scheduled for next week are expected to be well-attended because Grace has a lot of influence at the moment. The test for the president is whether he will sacrifice his vice president because of his wife’s influence or he refuse to listen to the First Lady.

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“All this could not be happening at a worse time after Mai Mujuru launched her well-received manifesto and campaign for 2018 this week,” the highly-placed source said.

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In the meantime, the planned demo against Kasukuwere has been panned by his top ally and fellow politburo member Jonathan Moyo.

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“Petition, what petition? Smells of Gamatox Manifesto. Commissar has won 23 Parly by-elections for Zanu PF & lost none,” Moyo tweeted this week.

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A self-proclaimed G40 member said yesterday: “We would rather not be organising this event at all. We would rather be out there campaigning on issues that really matter to people like rescuing the economy and other public services from cuts.

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“Nevertheless, we believe that the poisonous ideas of the Ngwena faction must not go unchecked, and so we have unanimously agreed to call a counter-demonstration to give people the opportunity to unite against hatred targeted at our hard-working commissar.”

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On their part, the Revolutionary Guards said buses had been organised to ferry protestors from Manicaland, Matabeleland South and North, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Midlands to the party headquarters in Harare today for the protest.

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“We want to thank all those who are helping us logistically to ensure the success of the programme,” the group said.

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“Let’s continue to defend Zanu PF and its values, lets continue to defend our President Cde R.G Mugabe, the revolution needs you, act against factionalism,” it added.

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Zanu PF junior spokesperson Psychology Maziwisa has defended Kasukuwere saying there is no pending disciplinary hearing against the national commissar, and the politburo appeared to brush the matter aside when it met in Harare on Wednesday.

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In their communication circulated on social media, the Revolutionary Guards say: “We shall be sending five buses to all other six provinces which include Manicaland, Matabeleland South and North, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Midlands, with the other three getting eight buses each since they are near Harare and the host being Harare province shall get 12 buses to ferry participants to Zanu PF HQ …

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“The revolution needs you. Act against factionalism. Sign against divisions and premature succession talk and CIA infiltration,” their petition reads further.

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Among those earmarked to speak at today’s demo are leaders from war veterans’ associations, representatives from the party’s youth and women’s leagues, students, farmers and mining unions, as well as cross-border traders and trade unionists. – Daily News

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