4 February 2016

Zimbabwe: President Mugabe Faces Tough Choices

Photo: Herald
Professor Jonathan Moyo.

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will have to play a delicate balancing act next week Wednesday when his party's supreme decision-making organ, the Politburo, meets in the wake of ugly infighting that has broken out among his trusted lieutenants, the Financial Gazette can report.

The wrangling, which has everything to do with the ZANU-PF leader's succession, has spilled into government, with devastating effects on an economy that is shuttling between the intensive care and the high dependency unit.

Analysts warned this week that the raging infighting would have serious ramifications on the country's economy and society at large unless President Mugabe quickly moves in to contain the situation.

The warnings come in the wake of an unprecedented implosion within the party, with reports suggesting that warring Cabinet ministers were working to undermine each other's work in government, along factional lines.

ZANU-PF has failed to return to stability after it stampeded former vice president, Joice Mujuru and a host of her allies from the party and government between late 2014 and early last year.

The demon of factionalism the party had hoped to exorcise has come back with full force, and is now threatening to tear it asunder, taking government business down with it.

After the Mujuru faction had been decimated, only one faction linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa had remained in the party, but not for long before a rival group emerged.

The new group, determined to knock Mnangagwa off his perch, is tending under the moniker, Generation 40 (G40).

G40 has within its ranks Young Turks and pro-reform minded party cadres who believe that it is high time the old guard paved the way for young blood as part of ZANU-PF's renewal matrix.

Among the big names linked to G40 is Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who doubles up as the party's national political commissar.

Both deny being part of G40.

In the rival camp, the core Mnangagwa backers include War Veterans Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and his wife, Monica; July Moyo; Josiah Hungwe; Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri; Justice Mayor Wadyajena and Owen "Mudha" Ncube.

With G40 proving to be tactically superior than their rivals, Mnangagwa's allies are said to be making spirited attempts to rope in President Mugabe on their side so that their nemesis could be booted out of the party at the coming Politburo meeting.

Mnangagwa's allies are also taking advantage of the control they have on the public media, which they are using to dictate the agenda of the Politburo meeting.

Having been shut out of the public media, their techno-savvy opponents have taken to social media to hit back.

Heated exchanges have been the order of the day lately between ZANU-PF's wordsmiths opposed to each other.

Moyo has been engaged in a no-holds barred bare-knuckled tirades with allies of Mnangagwa, among them Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba and Mutsvangwa.ZANU-PF now seems to have stepped out of the denial mood to finally acknowledge the existence of bitter factions within its ranks.

This week, the duty to dig at Moyo was delegated to secretary general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, Victor Matemadanda, who threatened to block Moyo from attending the next party Politburo meetings and all other party gatherings thereafter.

Moyo, with the State media he used to control during his tenure as minister of information now firmly in the hands of his nemesis, is finding himself restricted to the social media and some sections of the private media where he never got access before.

But that has not weakened the man's resolve in any way as he seems to have truckloads of arsenal for his perceived enemies.

President Mugabe has so far only managed to warn of action against factionalists without naming them or specifically indicating what action would be taken against the rubble rousers.

At the coming Politburo meeting, the ZANU-PF leader has tough choices to make.

Analysts said with his party already weakened by the departure of Mujuru and her band of followers, President Mugabe may not wish to rock the boat any further.

He is seen trying to bring together the warring factions and rallying them towards focussing on the restructuring of the party ahead of the 2018 elections.

ZANU-PF insiders said President Mugabe is also aware that some of the issues being sneaked into the party's agenda were merely personal vendettas between his lieutenants.

For example, Moyo and Charamba have had an uneasy relationship ever since their days together at the Information Ministry.

Kasukuwere and Mutsvangwa have also always had an axe to grind over the national political commissar's sentiments last year that seemed to demean war veterans. Being Kasukuwere's ally, Moyo has joined in the fight with Mutsvangwa.

Insiders say it is unfortunate that those being targeted by the war veterans were the very same people who have been working hard for the party, which makes the whole episode a difficult one for President Mugabe.

Political analysts this week said unless President Mugabe swiftly intervenes to save the situation, his ministers could drag the country into total chaos.

"We have always predicted that the party and government is conflicted. Any split in the party translates to a split in government. That's what is manifesting now," said political scientist, Ibbo Mandaza.

"What we seem to be witnessing here is a situation whereby the President has completely lost control of the succession issue and the implosion is here. The only time he can act to salvage whatever is left is now," Mandaza added.

Political analyst, Nhamo Mhiripiri, said President Mugabe needs to take decisive action as soon as possible to contain the situation before it goes awry.

"He simply has to stop the feuding factions by ordering a stop to the ugly bickering going on. We have heard that there is going to be a Politburo meeting soon; that would be the best time for him to make those decisions. If anybody has been found guilty of fanning factionalism, the same has to be brought to book. He can still play an advisory role if no one is to be disciplined," he argued.

But, in recent years, criticism has been that ZANU-PF bigwigs now only pay lip service to the President's instruction and largely ignore his advice.

However, political commentator, Earnest Mudzengi believes President Mugabe still has it within his grasp.

"He simply needs to be decisive. He still has a lot of control," he noted.

The analysts have also predicted total chaos in the event that things spiral out of control.

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