Tensions escalate within ZANU PF as Robert Mugabe’s time draws to finish line

Robert Mugabe emerges as man who imbibed a culture of violence

Zanu PF’s deadly tribal, factional and succession wars have gone a gear up as the party’s two major rival camps launch a final assault against each other ahead of the former liberation movement’s annual conference in Masvingo next week.

President Mugabe speaks to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa while Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and Secretary for Commissariat Saviour Kasukuwere looks on at Women’s league National Assembly meeting in Harare. Picture by Justin Mutenda
This comes as the party’s brawling bigwigs, who have made it in life largely on President Robert Mugabe’s charity, are increasingly coming out in the open that their ugly fights are about who takes over from the nonagenarian and what would happen then.

At the same time, analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the raging infighting within Zanu PF had extended to other political parties, with the country’s squabbling opposition now also moving to savage each other seemingly in terms of who among them is allegedly aligned to which ruling party faction.

This was after People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Tendai Biti, openly suggested that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is allegedly working on a secret deal with the Zanu PF faction backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations, which goes by the moniker Team Lacoste.

In turn, Biti’s opposition detractors whisper that he is allegedly “in the pocket” of the Generation 40 (G40) group, which is rabidly opposed to the Midlands godfather succeeding Mugabe.

Within Zanu PF itself, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko threw the cat among the pigeons at the weekend when he not only supported Mashonaland Central’s controversial resolution that the party’s VPs should be subjected to internal elections, but also that it needed to elect a leader it could trust post-Mugabe.

The remarks, which were widely interpreted by Team Lacoste as anti-Mnangagwa, also laid bare the suspicion that many party bigwigs are now looking to secure their future after the nonagenarian leaves office.

State broadcaster, the ZBC, quoted Mphoko telling a Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial fundraising dinner on Saturday that while Mugabe was trusted to the point of being given full authority of the party and the government, “there is no guarantee that the same trust can be vested in any other party leader, hence the need to look beyond President Mugabe by looking at some constitutional issues which could be abused to compromise the party in future”.

As would be expected, Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Dickson Mafios, who announced the proposal that the VPs should be elected, gleefully welcomed Mphoko’s remarks, saying: “The vice president has made it clear, so what more can I say on our position.”

Mashonaland Central is said to be a stronghold of embattled national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who is said to be one of the kingpins of the G40 faction, together with fellow politburo members such as Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao.

On his part, Moyo — who accuses Mnangagwa of being a successionist who fears elections — wrote on microblogging site Twitter yesterday that Mphoko’s views were correct.

“VP Mphoko correctly defended Mash Central’s right to move a resolution & the fundamental principle that VPs should be elected by the people,” wrote Moyo, adding cryptically: “What do you do if after a solution to a political problem in 2014 the problem persists in 2016? Change solution!”

The Tsholotsho North legislator has also previously declared that “amending the constitution in 2014 because of the Mujuru Cabal was a mistake. Case for Female VP & elected VPs is strong”, also in support of Mashonaland Central’s resolution.

Meanwhile, Zhuwao — who is Mugabe’s nephew — has also warned ominously that he would not support presidential aspirants whose backers used allegedly nefarious methods, in an apparent dig at Mnangagwa.

But Team Lacoste has also been fighting back with venom, with Mnangagwa’s allies mostly working underground and within key institutions to torpedo the G40.

As things stand, both Moyo and Kasukuwere are facing a slew of corruption charges, which they say are factionally-driven, with Moyo having already appeared in court.

And in remarks which were widely seen as a warning shot to the likes of Moyo and Kasukuwere, Mnagagwa last month said the government was in the process of building special courts to handle corruption cases.

“I am reliably informed that the stakeholders in the Against Corruption Together campaign have drafted a protocol designed to assist them in structuring mechanisms for the establishment of special courts for the management and trial of corruption related cases which will be commissioned soon.

“Those special courts must be operational in the first half of 2017,” Mnangagwa said while officially opening the Mvuma Magistrates’ Courts.

Political analyst, Gladys Hlatywayo, told the Daily News yesterday that with “the sun definitely setting and the ruling party’s factions cognisant of the need to make hay whilst the sun is still shining”, Zanu PF’s succession wars were becoming more intractable.

“G40 is aware that they are more likely to achieve their objective to stop Mnangagwa if Mugabe is alive, than after he is gone. In other words, their power has a sell-by date and is tied to the life of the president in office, and therefore the need to maximise on this.

“The Lacoste Team, through the war veterans has also been pressurising Mugabe to get rid of G40. Again this exactly plays into the Machiavellian politics of Mugabe where at each conference he diverts attention from his overstaying in power to manufacture factions and thereby justifying why he should stay put despite being too old and having overstayed his welcome,” Hlatywayo said.

Former Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition executive director McDonald Lewanika said the issue about the election of VPs was more than about the ouster of Mnangagwa.

“It is about ensuring that should he prevail post-Mugabe he cannot just pick and choose his deputy, which he would likely do from those perceived to be in his faction.

“The G40 believes that should Mnangagwa ascend to the throne, he would shut them out if he has the power to appoint his deputies, and that they stand a better chance to compete and win and in the process check Mnangagwa’s power if VPs are elected.

“Both of Zanu PF’s major factions are clearly worried about the day after Mugabe and the factional fights since 2013 have thus been about positions beyond Mugabe,” Lewanika said. Daily News

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