Editor’s Memo: Partisan interests stifling reform agenda

The situation has strongly brought to the fore that Mugagbe is navigating a sea of trouble before the next elections, including internal factionalism and infighting, fuelled by intensifying power struggles and divisions over the way forward.

 

Disclosures that Zanu PF negotiators and senior party officials undermined Mugabe ahead of the crucial Luanda summit come as Zanu PF hardliners are also blaming their representatives in the constitution-making process (Copac) for colluding with the MDC formations to slow down the exercise to disrupt Mugabe’s elections agenda.

Hardliners, who include members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which brings together army, police and intelligence chiefs, are behind Mugabe’s vigorous push for early polls, with or without a new constitution.

Mugabe’s loyalists have also been privately calling for the removal of the party’s negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, accusing them of making easy concessions to the MDC parties during negotiations. Some senior Zanu PF officials say the negotiators have now become too close and cosy with their MDC counterparts, having worked together well before the GPA was signed in September 2008 up to date.

Some Zanu PF negotiators and their party allies have reportedly become so close that they are now involved in commercial transactions and deals which the hardliners believe have compromised them. Sources say a Zanu PF negotiator and another from one of the MDC formations are currently under the police radar over a shady deal involving the construction and refurbishment of roads.

Sources said Mugabe’s position going to Luanda was already weak, with his party negotiators and envoys he had sent to the region having dissociated themselves from calls for early elections which imply abandoning the GPA and roadmap.

Sadc facilitator in Zimbabwe, South African President Jacob Zuma, had also done his homework, having in March visited Botswana, Namibia and Angola.

When his facilitation team visited Harare last week on Monday ahead of the summit they ensured they got the MDC parties and the negotiators on their side, it was said. Sources further say some of Mugabe’s emissaries to the region also destabilised his agenda by dissociating themselves from the messages they were carrying.

“When the facilitation team was in Harare last week, our negotiators re-affirmed the party’s commitment to reforms, including the constitution-making exercise and implementation of the GPA and election roadmap,” a senior Zanu PF official said. “They then agreed with the facilitation team that there was need to work on the implementation mechanism and this is the exact position which was recommended by the Sadc Troika to regional leaders and finally adopted by summit. In Luanda, the negotiators distanced themselves from the call for early elections and re-affirmed their commitment to the election roadmap. This was against the president and the party’s official position.”

Zanu PF and its negotiators have often taken different positions during Sadc summits, including at Livingstone, Sandton and Windhoek. The divergence between the hardline party position and the sober line of negotiators widened before the Luanda summit.

Prior to the summit, Mugabe sent his envoys to influential countries in Sadc to convince regional leaders to back his plans for early polls, arguing the inclusive government, which he claimed was illegal, had outlived its lifespan while there was now political and economic stability, as well as peace, to hold elections.

Vice-President John Nkomo was sent to Pretoria to meet South African President Zuma and Botswana to meet President Ian Khama, while Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo travelled to Namibia. Mugabe sent Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to deliver a special message to Sadc chair, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos in Luanda while State Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi went to meet with Zambian President Michael Sata in Lusaka and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. The party’s secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, was also part of the team which went around the region with the message.

It is said some of these dissociated themselves from Mugabe’s messages, telling the regional leaders there was no consensus on the issue.

Most Zanu PF officials, including Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Mnangagwa, who lead the two main factions in the party, have not publicly and systematically backed Mugabe on the election issue. JOC members and some Mugabe diehards have been driving that agenda. Those who have publicly backed early polls include Khaya Moyo, Mutasa, Youth secretary Absalom Sikhosana as well as senior politburo member Jonathan Moyo. 

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has also been vocal over holding elections this year, although he is believed to be neither working with JOC nor any Mugabe diehard. He is said to be a Mujuru ally.

JOC hardliners and Mugabe diehards have been pushing for early elections mainly because they fear Mugabe (88) may not be fit enough to endure the rigours of a gruelling election campaign if polls are held next year, mainly due to old age and health complications.

None of those who were part of Mugabe’s delegation in Luanda openly defended his position, leaving him vulnerable. Mugabe was accompanied by Goche, Chinamasa, Mnangagwa and Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, among other officials. Zanu PF hardliners are now trying hard to limit the damage after Luanda.