Robert Mugabe’s party rocked by ills of the past as it faces inevitable disintegration

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s savagely-contested succession — as well as the recent concrete moves by the country’s resurgent opposition to work together ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections — is sending the jitters through the warring ruling Zanu PF.

By Mugove Tafirenyika

So concerned are some Zanu PF bigwigs, that they are warning of the threat of another “Bhora Musango” rebellion by disgruntled party supporters next year — akin to the 2008 revolt which saw Mugabe and his brawling former liberation movement being given an electoral hiding by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, in the hotly-disputed presidential and parliamentary elections of that year.

Insiders who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday described the twin challenges of Zanu PF’s deadly tribal, factional and succession wars, and the opposition moving to finalise their grand coalition, as “ominous” and “not boding well at all” for the ruling party ahead of 2018.

It also prompted political analysts to conclude that the opposition had “a rare golden chance” to end Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s long misrule in next year’s make-or-break polls.

The analysts also noted that it was an ill-omen for Zanu PF that war veterans — who have been quarrelling with Mugabe since mid last year — were ratcheting up the pressure on their former patron to pave the way for his deputy, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to take over the reins now at both government and party levels.

The well-placed Zanu PF sources who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday said Zanu PF’s wars and the current push to oust national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere from his position — over a slew of charges which include plotting to topple Mugabe from power — had heightened the fears that the party would suffer another Bhora Musango in next year’s watershed elections.

“That will mean (the fights and Kasukuwere’s ouster) that the opposition will have a field day in provinces such as Mashonaland Central and East where (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru commands a significant support base as well.

“Whatever his shortcomings, Tyson (Kasukuwere) still has many sympathisers, and Mujuru is to all intents and purposes still a Zanu PF insider. All this does not bode well at all for the party in 2018,” a fearful central committee member said.

“The people who support Kasukuwere are some of the most committed and feared in the party, and were largely the ones who hammered the MDC in 2008. Without them, Tsvangirai, now with Mujuru’s support, will feast on us because it means that many of our stalwarts will back them,” a Mash Central regional executive member chipped in.

This comes as Zanu PF’s mindless bloodletting, which pits Mnangagwa’s supporters against the party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) group — who are rabidly opposed to the Midlands godfather succeeding Mugabe — has escalated over the past few weeks.

This has seen Kasukuwere’s future in both the party and the government coming under serious scrutiny — with eight provinces saying they no longer want him continuing in his positions.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, while admitting to the serious ructions in the party, said however, that these were not insurmountable.

“Zanu PF was not formed yesterday and is not facing challenges for the first time. We have seen worse things than this, but have always overcome them.

“So, this is not new and the president has since directed party structures to follow procedure and that is what is happening at the moment. No one is defying that,” Khaya Moyo told the Daily News on Sunday.

In 2008, in a rebellion which is said to have been led by officials loyal to Mujuru and her late husband Solomon — and which came to be known as Bhora Musango — Tsvangirai and the MDC beat Mugabe and Zanu PF hands down in that year’s historic, albeit hotly-disputed polls.

However, the results of the elections were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities, amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud which were later revealed by former Zanu PF bigwigs.

In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in a murderous orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed in cold blood, forcing the former prime minister in the inclusive government to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.

Mugabe went on to stand in a widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.

However, Sadc and the rest of the international community would have none of it, forcing the nonagenarian to share power with Tsvangirai for five years, to prevent the country from imploding completely.

Political analysts said yesterday that the current brawling by Zanu PF factions, and Mugabe’s failure or unwillingness to deal with his succession, could also gift the opposition victory in next year’s elections.

“I think if the problem of succession is not resolved, they (Zanu PF) are not going to be united come 2018. We have precedence in that regard.

“The 2008 Bhora Musango scenario is likely to repeat itself. In the recent Norton by-election, they could not unite and I don’t see how Kasukuwere’s supporters and Mnangagwa’s will coalesce this time … as this will need nothing short of a miracle,” political analyst, Shakespeare Hamauswa told the Daily News on Sunday.

Commenting earlier this year on the possibility of Zanu PF factions sabotaging the party in next year’s elections, another political analyst Alex Magaisa said this was very likely.

“Neither of the two factions (Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste and the G40) like each other very much and I cannot see why one will support the other in their quest for power.

“In the past, they have been able to close ranks but this time the acrimony is escalating to levels that may be impossible to bridge,” Magaisa said then.

Former Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition director, Philani Zamchiya, said a coalition of opposition forces could in this scenario take advantage of Zanu PF’s ructions to bring about “a democratic breakthrough that will see the international community spotlighting the country”.

“Zimbabwe is a grey zone in its protracted transition. So, a coalition makes it easier for citizens, civil society, the region and the international community to support the missing link, which is a democratic breakthrough,” Zamchiya said.

This week, opposition parties fired warning shots at Mugabe and Zanu PF when they signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in Harare, ahead of the finalisation of their planned grand coalition.

Tsvangirai signed MoUs with Mujuru and his former secretary-general Welshman Ncube, which lifted the mood of opposition supporters ahead of next year’s elections.

Analysts have said apart from having to contend with divided supporters and a united opposition, Mugabe and Zanu PF also need to find urgent ways of healing their rift with war veterans.

Former freedom fighters have been feuding with Mugabe ever since they broke their 41-year relationship with him mid last year, over their worsening plight and the country’s deepening political and economic rot.

Until that time, the fed-up ex-combatants had served as Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s pillars, waging particularly brutal campaigns against Tsvangirai and the MDC, especially in the bloody elections of 2000 and 2008. – Daily News

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