President Robert Mugabe says there are no shortcuts to ascending to leadership, admonishing his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa for lacking discipline and stooping so low as to hire youths to heckle him and the First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe at a rally in Bulawayo on Saturday.

Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters at the party headquarters in Harare today, Cde Mugabe exonerated the Bulawayo Zanu PF leadership and the Youth League for the interruptions and jeers made by some hired unruly youths who tried to cause chaos at the interface rally held at White City Stadium.

Zanu PF supporters who included youths, members of the Women’s League and other affiliates such as the war veterans, came in their thousands to show their solidarity with the President and the First Lady.

Some of the supporters came marching from different suburbs in Harare.

The meeting was hurriedly organised by the Youth League national executive, which felt that they needed to apologise to the First Family over the treatment the President and the First Lady were subjected to in Bulawayo as well as to show solidarity with the President following his decision to fire Mnangagwa who has been implicated in fanning factionalism in the party.

The youth also wanted to relay their message to the First Secretary of the party, Cde Mugabe that they are behind the Women’s League’s request for the party constitution to be amended and have a women’s quota in the presidium.

President Mugabe said the party will never deviate from its principles nor entertain those who are bent on causing indiscipline to advance their personal interests, adding that what Mnangagwa did, including the hiring and busing of youths from other provinces to heckle the First Family, was never expected from someone who held such an esteemed position in the party and government.

He said Mnangagwa played the loyalty card but was in actual fact scheming and aligning people hoping to take over power.

“We are aware that the interruptions and jeers were planned by some people who could no longer wait to grab power and buses from Kwekwe based schools were used to ferry people to Bulawayo. So Bulawayo Province and the Youth League, you are exonerated because we know who was behind the heckling,” he said.

Cde Mugabe said Mnangagwa had promised his followers that he was going to take over the highest office in the land by March this year but when that did not happen, he started employing ‘other shameful means and even consulted witchdoctors, all in the quest of ascending to the helm of the country.

President Mugabe reminded elders in the party that there are values and principles that are followed, saying while the sun is setting for the elderly, it is rising for the young ones and they must emulate good lessons and behaviour from the elders and not be led astray.

He also reminded people that all tribes are equal and the war of liberation was fought to liberate the whole country and not a particular tribe or province.

He thanked the Youth League for organising a very successful 1 million men march and the youth interface rallies that were oversubscribed in all the nine provinces held so far, adding that the last one in Harare must be massive so as to send a strong message.

President Mugabe ended his speech by encouraging people to go and register under the new biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise.

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko gave the vote of thanks and asked President Mugabe to replace Mnangagwa, saying he is already feeling lonely.

Cde Mphoko said he is happy that people have identified the person they think is the right candidate for the post.