CENTRAL Intelligence boss Happyton Bonyongwe a fortnight ago reportedly warned President Robert Mugabe that continued infighting in Zanu PF at a time social discontent is rising is likely to fuel civil unrest and protests, Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Sources in the security sector said this week Bonyongwe briefed Mugabe after learning that First Lady Grace Mugabe and her backers in the G40 Zanu PF faction wanted to launch a fresh onslaught on Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to politically disable him as part of the cut-throat succession wrangle to replace Mugabe.
Before Bonyongwe’s briefing, Grace had invited Zanu PF provincial Women’s League chairpersons from the country’s 10 provinces to her orphanage in Mazowe to push for fresh attack on Mnangagwa, whom she wants replaced as Mugabe’s deputy by a woman.
Grace and her allies want Zanu PF’s December conference to be turned into an extraordinary congress where the vice-presidency will be up for grabs. The Women’s League is pushing for reintroduction of the women’s quota in the presidium to ensure that Mnangagwa is replaced by a woman.
The women’s assembly, with support from the Youth League, is planning rallies to drum up support for the move while ratcheting up pressure on the vice-president to crumble in the heat of the suffocating race.
“At the Mazowe meeting, Grace said the rallies will be rolled out soon and the message to be sent to the structures was that of a fresh call to have a woman in the presidium,” the source said.
“Mugabe also had a meeting with Youth League leader Kudzai Chipanga, who is part of the G40 camp, to discuss the plot.
“However, Mugabe was warned by Bonyongwe that there are chances of a civil unrest spreading even further if internal issues in Zanu PF are not resolved amicably. There are intelligence reports which show that tension is rising as social discontent and unrest are becoming widespread.
“After this warning Grace toned down and did not attack Mnangagwa when she met the Women’s League executive on Thursday last week.”
In preparation for the onslaught, Grace and the Women’s League had purchased thousands of T-shirts emblazoned with Grace’s image. The T-shirts are written Munhu wese kunaamai (Everyone belongs to the mother) and were printed in South Africa.
“The plan was for Grace to re-launch her ‘meet-the-people’ rallies similar to those she ran ahead of the party’s December 2014 congress which led to the ouster of former vice-president Joice Mujuru and her backers.
“She tried to repeat the modus oparandi on Mnangagwa earier this year, but backtracked after fierce resistance from war veterans and the military. But now that the bulk of the war veterans’ leadership has been booted out of the party, she feels its time to resume the rallies.”
Zanu PF is currently divided on factional lines with the Mnangagwa faction fighting a war of attrition with the G40 faction over Mugabe’s succession.
The CIO is, however, worried that Zanu PF infighting could fuel social discontent “at a time the party and government should be pulling together to contain the growing crisis,” one source said.
The intelligence is also worried that the opposition seems to be gaining ground while officials expelled from Zanu PF seem to have added impetus to opposition politics as the likes of Mujuru, who is leading the Zimbabwe People First party, have joined hands with the MDC formations and other opposition parties to pile pressure on Mugabe.
Former Zanu PF administration secretary Didymus Mutasa has also been troublesome as he is chairing the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) comprising of 18 political parties.
The parties are demanding reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the country’s electoral process.
Nera organised demonstrations which rocked Harare last Friday and has planned another protest march today.
The organisation is also planning protests countrywide to pressure the government into agreeing reforms.
War veterans leaders expelled from the party have also supported peaceful demonstrations and are engaging opposition parties.
Last weekend, war veterans met MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai “in a bid to find a solution to the economic and political crisis bedevilling Zimbabwe”.
“All these developments are worrying the intelligence,” a security official said