FORMER Finance minister Simba Makoni’s three-phase project to assume the Zanu PF leadership all but collapsed this week after he failed to ch
allenge President Robert Mugabe at a politburo meeting as reportedly planned by his backers.
The situation was made worse by Makoni’s meeting with Mugabe early this week where he reportedly distanced himself from reports of him launching a party to fight the election against Mugabe. Makoni’s plan was to push the Zanu PF politburo to reverse the endorsement and confirmation of Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate.
Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that the plan crumbled after Makoni chickened out of the project to split Zanu PF and met Mugabe to pledge his loyalty to him and the party.
The sources said Makoni and his backers had come up with a three-phase plan to oust Mugabe. The implementation of the plan was due to have commenced at Wednesday’s politburo meeting.
In the first phase, the sources said, Makoni was supposed to convince the politburo that Mugabe was “unconstitutionally and un-procedurally” endorsed and confirmed as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate at the Zanu PF congress last month.
“Makoni was supposed to mobilise other politburo members and attack how Mugabe was endorsed,” a source said. “A call was going to be made for a fresh endorsement and confirmation of the party’s presidential candidate by the central committee. It is at this stage that Makoni and his backers wanted to block Mugabe from the race.”
However, the plan collapsed when Makoni reportedly failed to even “whisper a protest” during the politburo meeting.
The sources said if Makoni had failed in the first two phases, his faction had agreed to break away from Zanu PF and form another party led by the former Finance minister to challenge Mugabe in the March polls.
However, the plan collapsed after Makoni on Tuesday met Mugabe at Zimbabwe House and told the 83-year-old nationalist that he was committed to Zanu PF and the president’s leadership
The sources said Makoni met Mugabe in a preemptive move to stop the octogenarian leader from raising the intended formation of a political party in the politburo on Wednesday.
“Makoni disassociated himself from the formation of a new party. He told Mugabe that he will remain loyal to Zanu PF and to the president,” another source said. “Makoni said he was being linked to the new party by his enemies.”
On Wednesday, Makoni arrived at the Zanu PF headquarters for the politburo meeting in jovial mood and reportedly hugged and shook hands with members of the party organ present.
“My interpretation of his behaviour was that he wanted to assure everyone present that he was still in Zanu PF and loyal to Mugabe,” a politburo member said. “It was the first time for Makoni to shake my hands since my appointment to the politburo.”
The sources said the Makoni faction went into disarray last week when former Industry minister Nkosana Moyo – who was reportedly mobilising funds from abroad — ditched the project over differences in strategy.
Last week the Independent reported there were serious misgivings in Zanu PF, the MDC and civic society as to whether Makoni had the capacity to split the ruling party.
Makoni on Tuesday declined to confirm or deny his ambition to become president. “I have nothing to say about this issue at the moment,” he said.