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Team Lacoste comes face to face with G40






Feathers are expected to fly when Team Lacoste, the Zanu PF faction rallying behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa's mooted presidential aspirations, comes face to face with the under-fire Generation 40 (G40) group - which rabidly opposes the Midlands godfather - at tomorrow's politburo meeting in Harare.

This comes as the tribal, factional and succession wars devouring President Robert Mugabe's ruling party have become even more intractable over the past few weeks, amid damaging public accusations and counter-accusations between the two of corruption and abuse of State institutions.

A politburo member who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said he expected "fur to fly" at tomorrow's meeting, given the alarming deterioration in the relationship between the two factions over the past few days.

"I feel for President Mugabe as he is in the middle of all this, and definitely I expect fur to fly (at the meeting)," the cagey bigwig linked to Team Lacoste said.

In the past week alone, alleged G40 kingpins - Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and his Local Government counterpart Saviour Kasukuwere - have come under the cosh, as the fortunes of Team Lacoste have increasingly appeared to soar both within Zanu PF and the government.

Moyo was arrested and charged with corruption by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) last Wednesday, while the anti-graft body has also threatened to nab Kasukuwere, a message relayed through State media, on account of alleged shady land deals that the Zanu PF national political commissar has been involved in.

On his part, Moyo has been hitting back with venom, stunningly accusing Mnangagwa and Team Lacoste of using Zacc and other key State institutions to grab power from Mugabe.

And Kasukuwere took the war a notch higher at the weekend. Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters at a rally in the Harare small dormitory town of Epworth on Sunday, Kasukuwere made the startling claim that some ruling party bigwigs who are angling to take over from Mugabe wished death upon the increasingly frail nonagenarian.

Party insiders at the rally told the Daily News that the shocking claim was "the beginning of the public outing of Team Lacoste".

"Despite the fact that people voted for President Mugabe in 2013 and the party declared that he is our 2018 candidate . . . there are some among us who are now losing sleep each time mudhara (Mugabe) goes out of the country inquiring whether he is still alive or not.

"Is that politics to wish others dead so that you can assume power? Isn't it that you have to work for the people to get to the top?" Kasukuwere asked cryptically.

"However, he is not dying anytime soon. He will be there even to bury some of you and some of us will not be moved from the position that we have taken to let him rule forever.

"I will face my accusers head-on. Let those who are saying and writing what they want do so. But be warned, I am ready for you.

"Now they are using State institutions such as the police and Zacc to fight a political war. But we know what you are up to. I am in politics for life, not for the short term. This is our game," he added.

Kasukuwere also suggested that Mnangagwa's allies had sabotaged Zanu PF in the Norton by-election which was won by independent candidate Temba Mliswa.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was not reachable yesterday when the Daily News tried to get a comment from him, as well as the agenda of tomorrow's politburo meeting.

However, a senior party official linked to the G40 did not mince his words, saying they would now take the war to Team Lacoste, including at tomorrow's meeting.

"While in the past we have had heated politburo meetings, this time it will be different because the factions will confront each other over succession like never before.

"There will be war, and if the president does not handle it well, it may even turn physical. There has never been so much animosity going into a politburo meeting," the official said.

And writing on his Twitter account after the tumultuous events of the past week, Moyo launched yet another scathing attack aimed at Team Lacoste, and also making it abundantly clear that the fallout between the two camps could now be irreconcilable.

"The capture and abuse of State institutions to target perceived opponents for factional purposes risks triggering irreconcilable differences!" he said.

In another thinly-veiled attack against Mnangagwa - who last week attended a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva Switzerland, where he advocated for the abolition of the death penalty - Moyo said, "It's phoney to call for the abolishment of an unenforced death penalty when you're brazenly assaulting liberty. No life without liberty!"

All this came after his hard-hitting statement on Tuesday last week in which he also threatened to sue Mnangagwa, other senior government officials and State media.

And provocatively responding to one of his followers on Twitter who had appeared to suggest that Mnangagwa's famed toughness did not equate to cruelty, Moyo said, "Your lot will be taught a hard lesson. Make no mistake about it. Your cruel and murderous regional project won't succeed. This time hamulume (this time you will not win)!"

Respected University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Eldred Masungure, said the fact that the party's fights were getting uglier were a sign that the situation had now reached "boiling point".

"By the time this year's (December Zanu PF) conference is held, we could see worse things in terms of the factional fights because as it is, Lacoste is going all out to obliterate G40 which is also fighting for sheer survival.

"It is also indisputable that Zanu PF's performance come 2018 will not be as clinical as they would want even in the face of rigging, because there is too much discord and the players involved are too suspicious of each other, especially in terms of who will benefit from the victory when it is delivered," he said.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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