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Succession saga could blight talks prospects

Dumisani Muleya

ZANU PF’S succession struggle has now spilt over into the ongoing inter-party talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Official sources said President Robert Mugabe’s succession drama was now playing out in the talks-theatre where Zanu PF officials engaged with the MDC are pushing a takeover agenda for Zanu PF’s secretary for administration, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

This has widened the rift over the issue in the already divided Zanu PF. Ruling party hawks are said to be fiercely resisting dialogue. The division over talks were manifested during the party’s recent politburo meeting, the sources said.

While Mnangagwa and his allies wanted dialogue, die-hards like Zanu PF deputy spokesman Jonathan Moyo were trying to derail the talks through the state media.

Moyo has always advertised his hostility to Mnangagwa and talks through the government-controlled press that now seems ranged against movers of dialogue.

When reports filtered in February that Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe wanted to strike a power-sharing deal with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Moyo reacted with anger, insinuating the two were “coup plotters and electoral cowards”.

Moyo’s animosity towards Mnangagwa has a long record. Writing in the Zimbabwe Independent on June 28 1996, Moyo said Mnangagwa should not be allowed to become president because of his involvement in the Matabeleland atrocities in the 1980s.

However, Mnangagwa’s allies are pushing for talks with the MDC. These include Zanu PF head of delegation to last year’s collapsed talks Patrick Chinamasa, secretary for security in the politburo, Nicholas Goche, secretary for the commissariat, Elliot Manyika and MP Saviour Kasukuwere.

Goche is seen as Mnangagwa’s key ally in the state security apparatus together with Manyika and Kasukuwere who also have intelligence backgrounds.

Mnangagwa, State Security min-ister during the 1980s, is seen as wielding vast influence in the Central Intelligence Organisation and the army.

It is thought he wants to use this clout to launch an assault on power.

Justice minister Chinamasa is understood to be Mnangagwa’s associate as he worked under him when the former was attorney-general and the latter Justice minister.

Chinamasa, Goche, Manyika and Kasukuwere – who all initiated the current talks – are talking to the MDC team led by party secretary-general Welshman Ncube. The MDC group also includes deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire, spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi and MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

Sources said the Zanu PF officials were anxious to see a negotiated settlement to facilitate Mnangagwa’s take over bid.

“Mnangagwa’s foot soldiers are pushing hard for talks with the MDC because they think this will lead to a negotiated deal that will propel him to power,” a source said.

“The idea is that Mnangagwa or his agent will emerge as the head of the transitional authority that will organise new elections and during that period consolidate his grip by recruiting some moderate opposition members into his plans before taking over.”

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