Robert Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS
Robert Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS

Harare —President Emmerson Mnangagwa is gradually losing patience with his former boss Robert Mugabe as the latter becomes visible in politics once again — a few months before high-stakes general elections.

Mnangagwa‚ a right-hand man of Mugabe since the late 1970s‚ ascended to power with military assistance‚ forcing Mugabe to resign in November last year. After the coup, Mugabe was confined to private life shuttling between his rural home in Zvimba and private residence in Harare’s richest suburb‚ Borrowdale.

That is apart from going to Singapore in December to see his daughter‚ Bona‚ and son-in-law‚ Simba Chikore‚ who were expecting a baby‚ and also to undergo his routine medical check-ups.

But last month Mugabe met with African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki and told him that he was toppled by a coup. Since then he has openly opposed the Mnangagwa presidency‚ raising concern that the upcoming elections might not be free and fair.

What angered Mnangagwa this week is that Mugabe snubbed working with the Zanu-PF in its electoral campaign. Instead he is rallying behind a new organisation called New Patriotic Front (NPF), and has also had meetings with other opposition leaders.

Speaking at a Zanu-PF youth league rally on Tuesday‚ Mnangagwa warned about Mugabe. "With the former president there is an issue. Currently we are not happy with what the media is saying. It is an issue we are examining."

At the same rally‚ youth leader Pupurai Togarepi said, as the youth, they would stop respecting Mugabe. "Can someone try and talk to Mugabe? He must withdraw his behaviour and be responsible. If he fails to respect the revolution‚ we will stop respecting him in future‚" he said, before chanting anti-Mugabe slogans.

Because of his latest political choices‚ Mugabe, during his birthday party on February 24, told close friends and relatives he was being persecuted via his wife Grace, who spent every night crying.

On Wednesday‚ Mugabe made his first trip outside Zimbabwe this year and sources say he is in Pretoria. Unlike in the past when he would commandeer the national flag carrier Air Zimbabwe‚ Mugabe flew business class with about 12 aides. In the past, he would have traveled with a 70-strong entourage.

"The suspicion within Zanu-PF is that Mugabe is in SA to meet up with stakeholders involved with the NPF project. We understand NPF is seeking an alliance with some sections of the Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai (MDC-T)‚ [Joice] Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP), and other like-minded groups, to dilute Zanu-PF’s dominance‚" said a Zanu PF source.

This week, the NPF wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission informing it that the party would be taking part in the general elections and so should also be included in programmes that involve political parties and the upcoming elections.