Dumisani Muleya/ Constantine Chimakure
IN a desperate bid to win next year’s crucial presidential and parliamentary elections, President Robert Mugabe has roped i
n the Zanu PF faction led by senior party official Emmerson Mnangagwa and the war veterans.
Zanu PF sources said Mugabe has reached out to the Mnangagwa camp and the war veterans to be part of his campaign machinery for the elections after he realised that his fallout with a faction led by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru had created a rift that could not be bridged before the elections.
There are three factions in the ruling party — one fighting for the continued stay in power of Mugabe, the other backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru, and the third rooting for Mnangagwa.
Mugabe and the Mujuru camp fell out in February after he made thinly veiled attacks on Vice-President Mujuru.
Sources said Mugabe and the Zanu PF camp rallying behind him have promised to support Mnangagwa’s succession bid in the future if his group manages to help secure victory in next year’s critical elections.
However, some in the Mnangagwa faction are sceptical about the promise because Mugabe dumped Mujuru after they fought from the same corner at the height of the party’s power struggle in 2004.
Mugabe supported Mujuru’s ascendancy to the vice-presidency in 2004 against Mnangagwa who appeared to be the winning candidate in the run up to the momentous Zanu PF congress.
Mugabe accused Mnangagwa and his group of trying to seize power in the party through a palace coup.
This led to the suspension, demotion and expulsion of Mnangagwa’s party supporters, including war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda.
But Sibanda is now back in the Zanu PF fold through the back door to support Mugabe’s bid for re-election.
Last week war veterans held street marches in support of Mugabe in Harare amid reports the Mnangagwa faction was behind the demonstrations of loyalty and support.
Mugabe — fighting for his political life — has now turned to Mnangagwa despite dealing with him roughly in 2004 because the Mujuru camp is balking at supporting him.
The Mujuru faction wants to oppose Mugabe’s candidacy at either the party’s conference or special congress in December.
“We know Mugabe is determined to stand for re-election, but we will fight to oppose him,” a senior member of the Mujuru faction said. “It won’t be easy for him come December.”
Mugabe needs to be roundly endorsed to be the party candidate.
Mugabe’s backers have of late been scrambling all over the place to secure his endorsement ahead of the conference.
This comes after the realisation that endorsement may not be taken for granted, especially after Mugabe was blocked in his bid to extend his term to 2010 without an election at the party’s Goromonzi conference last December.
Mugabe also failed during the party’s crucial central committee meeting in March to secure his endorsement, leading his loyalists to mislead the public on the issue, claiming his candidacy was approved when it was not.
Although many in Zanu PF do not want Mugabe to stand, they are unable to oppose and force him out.
Mugabe is said to be also turning to the Mnangagwa group because the Zanu PF faction comprising his adherents is collapsing due to infighting.
The camp comprises the likes of party political commissar Elliot Manyika, Youth Development deputy minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Labour minister Nicholas Goche, women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri, Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira and Security minister Didymus Mutasa but it has of late been crumbling due to internal conflicts. The camp is now split on whether to support Mugabe or the likes of Simba Makoni as the candidate.