Succession fire still glowing

IN the aftermath of Zanu PF’s historic congress in which the force of naked coercion was used in the internal power struggle, fuelled by President Robert Mugabe’s unresolved succession, amid purges, the bloodbath continues as shown by this week’s firing of Vice-President Joice Mujuru and eight ministers.

EDITOR’S MEMO BY DUMISANI MULEYA

Mujuru, whose faction was disorganised, paralysed and strangled to suffocation, was cheekily replaced with her rival, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who won’t relinquish his ministerial position, ensuring he will also remain leader of government business in parliament. Mnangagwa will also chair Zanu PF on a rotating basis with his counterpart, Phelekezela Mphoko.

With Mugabe having consolidated power to halt his faltering grip at the helm, Mnangagwa and Mphoko, who have strong military and security backgrounds, reinforce the new Zanu PF presidium which resembles a strongman’s club.

Those trying to figure out the direction of Zimbabwean politics following a brutal succession fight in the run up to congress and subsequent relentless tumultuous developments might find out that the victors have only managed an inconclusive victory.

It would be useful to put things in their historical and contemporary context, while taking a broader view of the situation. Zanu PF has a long history of militarised politics and succession struggles, and so Mugabe’s appointments must be seen in that context.

As stated here before, the Zanu PF congress last weekend proved to be about one thing and one thing alone in the final analysis: Mugabe’s self-preservation.
Events in the run up to congress and during the occasion showed Mugabe was behind the removal of Mujuru whom he feared had become too powerful and ambitious to constitute a threat to him. Hence, Mujuru had to be removed at all costs.

Grace Mugabe initially became the stalking horse which her husband, backed by vested interests, used to remove her. The strategy was to keep Mugabe safely ensconced in power and Grace, who has a vested interest, was used to spearhead the tactical onslaught while the president remained the taskmaster.

Mugabe, however, did not want Mujuru, a freedom fighter and long-time comrade who regarded him like a father, to be removed in that brutal way as he later admitted, but once Grace, who seems to be now running the show, crossed the Rubicon, there was no going back.

Mugabe would have wanted to remove Mujuru in a smart way; without too much political drama, but then Grace went too far. She also admitted that at congress but tried to justify it, saying she was vicious because she had been provoked.

However, the bottom-line is Mugabe was behind the plot to remove Mujuru to stop her faction’s political juggernaut which would have left her as shoo-in to be his successor. Mugabe was doing all this for himself and not anyone — he wants to be president for life to avoid being held to account for his excesses in power.

Incidentally and in the process of all this there was a convergence of interest between different elements within Zanu PF: Mugabe wanted to ensure he remains safely entrenched in power, Grace mainly wanted to ensure she protects her personal and family interests, while Mnangagwa took advantage of the events to help fight Mujuru to sink her succession plans and rebound. Of course, there was an overlap of interests.

Yet despite all this the congress outcome was inconclusive: Mugabe’s succession remains unresolved and there will be more rounds of infighting going ahead, first within the winning camp which has various and even conflicting agendas, and later after Mugabe is gone.

To avoid prolonged uncertainty and exacerbation of the current problems, Zanu PF should have decided conclusively at congress who will replace Mugabe were he to be incapacitated, not seek re-election in 2018 or die. The embers of succession remain smouldering and a conflagration might reignite anytime consuming the party and the country.

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9 Responses to Succession fire still glowing

  1. magame December 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    I sgree this is far from over especially with bob gone.

  2. eagle December 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Mnangagwa is so unpopular even Nikuv cant help him to win 2018 & everyone knows that. Therefore the succession issue is truly very mch alive

  3. toussant December 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    how would nominating a definite successor now have prevented future conflicts when the president is incapacitated or retires? the future as we all know is unpredictable so are politicians.

    • Qiniso December 13, 2014 at 12:05 am #

      Good point toussant. I am not sure what Editor Muleya is smoking.

  4. Qiniso December 13, 2014 at 12:05 am #

    “To avoid prolonged uncertainty and exacerbation of the current problems, Zanu PF should have decided conclusively at congress who will replace Mugabe were he to be incapacitated, not seek re-election in 2018 or die”
    Really…that’s baloney! Do you have a policy at your work which says if Editor Dumisani Muleya is incapacitated or die, then Xxxx replaces him?

  5. Zim2 December 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    DUMISANI MULEYA you are a brilliant analyst.

    My issues is that Joyce was treated very unkindly, from comrades who have been together for so long, and she is a widow who as suffered both during the war and the loss of her husband. Why would she seek ill for a father figure Mugabe who gave her the Deputy Presidency and someone in his last days constantly seek medical treatment overseas. Possibly Joyce’s expressions of seeking Mugabe to retire angered the Royal family particular Grace who is still young and wants to enjoy the privileges that go with it. At the same time its all about Mugabe’s self preservation as life President. Although not so popular Emmerson appears heir to the throne, which charts the way forward which is better than not having a heir apparent.

  6. Zim2 December 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    Mugabe creates crisis to sustain his rule and be relevant, example, land invasions when he lost the referendum in 2000. Now the Joyce hullabaloo saying she wants to topple him is just meant to divert attention from his old age and need to retire. It also serves as warning to the new Vice President Emmerson as to who is in charge, as he could fall the same fate. But it seems unlikely; the old man is old and needs a trusted strong man by his side. And Emmerson I think is the rightful man.

  7. David Mduduzi Ngobese December 14, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    A high stakes political game is taking centre stage within the ruling ZANU-PF. President RG Mugabe has long shied away from the issue of succession, however with his newfound powers enabling him to amend the party’s constitution the appointment of Vice-Presidents Mnagangwa and Mphoko signal his likely preferences. Mnagangwa is highly favoured to succeed the ailing statesman in what is likely Mugabe’s last term as president. The recently concluded conference is indeed a vestibule to a new era in Zimbabwean politics.

  8. Mduduzi Ngobese December 14, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    A high stakes political game is taking centre stage within the ruling ZANU-PF. President RG Mugabe has long shied away from the issue of succession, however with his newfound powers enabling him to amend the party’s constitution the appointment of Vice-Presidents Mnagangwa and Mphoko signal his likely preferences. The recently concluded conference is indeed a vestibule to a new era in Zimbabwean politics.

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