Succession row: Mugabe warns Zanu PF youths

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has warned ruling Zanu PF youths against being used to foment divisions in the ruling party.

Zanu PF youths must not divide the party ... President Robert Mugabe

Zanu PF youths must not divide the party … President Robert Mugabe

The veteran leader was addressing supporters at Gutu in Masvingo Friday after paying his respects to his uncle, the late Chief Gutu, who died in 2013.

Zanu PF youths are planning to stage a million-man-march, supposedly to show solidarity with Mugabe.

But the May 25 event has already sparked controversy in the bitterly divided ruling party.

Mugabe, who turned 92 this February, had lately appeared to have quietened a row over his succession after ordering the rival factions to “shut up”.

But his remarks Friday at Chamisa Primary School, on the outskirts of Mpandawana Growth Point, suggest the bickering continues.

He warned Zanu PF youth league against disrespecting and abusing party leaders.

“(The) youth league should remain united; we cannot have a youth league that gets into fights with the leadership,” Mugabe said, speaking in Shona.

“How can you claim to know where we have come from as a party when you were born just 20 years ago?”

The youths are thought to back the so-called G40 faction which is opposed to vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over from Mugabe.

G40’s preference for successor remains unclear with key figures insisting Mugabe must be allowed to complete his current term and seek another mandate in 2018 when he will be 94 years old.

However, the group counts Mugabe’s wife Grace and co-vice president Phelekezela Mphoko among its key allies.

Mugabe challenged the youths to refuse to be used by ambitious elements in the party.

“Youths should not be misled by those who want to cause confusion by telling them to support certain individuals and or our groups,” he said.

“We don’t have groups in the party; we have one big group which is Zanu PF. We do not know about factions; that must stop.”

Meanwhile, controversy surrounds the youths’ planned May 25 march.

Sections of the party view the event as an attempt to counter the February protest by pro-Mnangagwa war veterans which culminated in a meeting with Mugabe attended by a claimed 10,000 ex-fighters.

It is thought that the march is aimed at proving that the G40 cause has wider and more grassroots support.

Not so, maintained Youth League deputy secretary Kudzi Chipanga.

“That talk of trying to counter any meeting, I don’t think the people saying this are up to date as far as Zanu PF events are concerned,” he said in an interview with State media this week.

“We started to initiate this One Million Man March before the President held his meeting with the war vets, so I don’t see where this aspect of countering is coming in.

“When the President held his meeting with the war vets we had already done around five provinces in mobilisation and preparation for the One Million Man March, so I don’t see where this aspect of countering is coming in.”

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