VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the “only candidate for succession” and any attempt to block his takeover would “cause bloodshed in the country”, the country’s war veterans have declared.
The former fighters have never been coy about their succession preference, a choice that has provoked the wrath of President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace and her allies in the so-called G40 faction of the ruling Zanu PF party.
G40 is reportedly determined to stop a Mnangagwa succession and backs Grace who says her 92-year-old husband will go to work in a wheelbarrow if eventually unable to walk – and then rule the country from his grave when mortality finally knocks at the State House doors.
But, at a meeting of the war veterans’ leadership in Gweru on Sunday, the former fighters said that they were prepared to go to war if a Mnangagwa’s succession was blocked.
They denied G40 allegations that Mnangagwa was plotting to remove Mugabe from office, but insisted that he was only “suitable” succession candidate should a vacancy arise at the top.
Minutes of the meeting were leaked to the media on Monday. A member of the war veterans’ leadership told NewZimbabwe.com that the record of proceedings was largely correct but “some elements have been manufactured to cause outrage”.
The gathering was attended by war veterans’ national leader Chris Mutsvangwa, secretary general Victor Matemadanda and executives from all of the country’s ten provinces.
Addressing the meeting, Matemadanda is claimed to have “clearly indicated that Cde E.D. Mnangagwa is the only candidate for succession”.
Mutsvangwa reportedly said China had demanded to know who would succeed Mugabe and were given Mnangagwa’s name, adding that “if anyone derails this aim of succession he or she will cause bloodshed in the country.”
Both Matemadanda and Mutsvangwa demanded the expulsion of ministers linked to the G40 group, but said the case of the “unknown” vice president Phelekezela Mphoko was “still being assessed”.
They also criticised the Zanu PF administration’s handling of the economy, with Matemadanda indicating “that government shows its failure to run the country by printing bond notes”.
Mutsvangwa added that President Mugabe’s cabinet was “full of thieves and corrupt people such as (energy minister Samuel) Undenge who defrauded ZESA of $5million”.
Declaring that “G40 is dead”, Mutsvangwa accused the faction of influencing Mugabe to “remove war veterans who are serving as service chiefs” in the military and other security structures.
The former war veterans minister was fired from cabinet by Mugabe and then suspended from Zanu PF.
He however told Sunday’s meeting that “no one had the power to remove him from the party”.