Sunday, 18 January 2015

Mnangagwa's coalition of the unpopular, its strategy for 2018

HARARE - Now that the dust is slowly settling after the political drama we witnessed in Zanu PF leading up to its December congress, it is imperative to fathom deeper into what really transpired and its implications for our national politics.

It is now common cause that the Mujuru camp has been decimated and is unlikely to have a Lazarus moment of resurrection at least for the foreseeable future.

It seems to me that Mai Mujuru’s biggest undoing was her failure to give sufficient guarantees to the First Family that she would protect their family’s vast business empire after Mugabe is gone.

Another problem is that the Mujuru camp invested too much in democratic processes in a party that loathes democracy. Their assumption was that rules and procedures would be followed and they underplayed Mugabe’s hand in the succession conundrum.
Mnangagwa's coalition of the unpopular, its strategy for 2018
This, against Emmerson Mnangagwa, a wily tactician surrounded by Machiavellian schemers. The sucker punch was their ability to rope in First Lady Grace Mugabe into their camp by raising her fears of a Mujuru presidency. My suspicion is that Mai Mujuru revealed too much to some of her advisors and that cost her dearly.

But what are the implications of Mnangagwa’s preeminence to Zanu PF and to our national politics, particularly in the context of elections in 2018? More importantly, has the succession issue in Zanu PF been settled once and for all?

I submit that Mnangagwa’s elevation was a knee-jerk reaction to what the First Family thought was a Mujuru plot to unseat the president.

Mugabe considers the succession issue as work in progress and elevating Mnangagwa was a way of stopping Joice Mujuru and buying more time to deal with it.

This has been his modus operandi in dealing with ambition within his party. The nation witnessed his obliteration of the Mnangagwa group in 2004 when he felt they had become too ambitious.

Moreover, there is no consensus in Mnangagwa’s camp that he should be the one to succeed Mugabe. Jonathan Moyo was quick to pour cold water on suggestions that Mnangagwa had been anointed to the throne.

Furthermore, Josiah Hungwe’s ludicrous eulogy of Mnangagwa as “son of God” and Faber Chidarikire’s introduction of Mrs Mnangagwa as the “acting First Lady” were both met with scorn in the public media.

It therefore seems to suggest that these people were only brought together by a common desire to stop Joice Mujuru.

Beyond that there is no common ideological persuasion or political roadmap that binds them together.

In spite of all this, I submit that Mnangagwa’s appointment places him in a strategic position to succeed Mugabe given the latter’s age and health.

Mugabe has increasingly become frail and the speed with which both his wife Grace and the hawks in the Mnangagwa camp moved in cajoling him to purge Mujuru raises the suspicion that they probably know something about his health that the public does not.

In other words, Mugabe has inadvertently promoted Mnangagwa to succeed him.

If indeed Mugabe departs the political stage and Mnangagwa takes over the party leadership, what is likely to happen and what chances does he stand for 2018?

The biggest challenge Mnangagwa would face is how to reach out to those who have been purged in order to rebuild consensus.

While Mujuru and her allies are not likely to form their own party or go into a coalition with the opposition given that they are trapped in Mugabe’s vast patronage network, they pose a serious risk to Zanu PF if they quietly regroup and become an opposition within the ruling party.

This would present another Bhora musango scenario akin to the one of 2008.

Moreover, as the scale and reach of the purges have shown, Mujuru has control of the party social base and Mnangagwa will find it hard to break that.

The other problem for the Mnangagwa group is that most of its public faces are extremely unpopular and therefore not marketable to the voting public. Mnangagwa himself lacks mass appeal and has a tainted history. Perhaps a measure of his dearth of popularity was his defeat to the MDC’s Blessing Chebundo, a political lightweight, in 2000 and 2005 in a parliamentary seat contest.

The humiliation forced him to abandon the Kwekwe constituency for a gerrymandered Chirumanzi-Zibagwe constituency.

Mnangagwa also has the ignominy of having been State Security minister in the 1980s when over 20 000 ethnic Ndebeles were butchered in what is now commonly referred to as the Gukurahundi massacres.

For that reason, he will find it very difficult to draw voters from the southern part of the country where the Gukurahundi issue is still emotive.

His role in Zimbabwe’s participation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) war in the late 90s is yet another blight on his name.

A clique of Zimbabwean military elites, dodgy businessmen, and senior Zanu PF officials were named as having participated in the pillaging of what was perhaps Africa’s richest country and a UN panel of experts reportedly named Mnangagwa as one of the culprits.

Other key figures in his camp are also not beyond public reproach. Zimbabweans have not forgiven Jonathan Moyo for his perceived role in the creation of a fascist State post-2000.

To many Zimbabweans, Ignatius Chombo’s name is synonymous with corruption.

Since 2000 Oppah Muchinguri has been occupying key positions at Mugabe’s benevolence while Savior Kasukuwere’s role in the creation of the “green bombers” that terrorised villagers in the 2000s are well documented.

I could go on and on. The point I am making is that this is a coalition of the unpopular which would struggle to win the hearts and minds of the electorate. Daily News

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