THE seemingly endless battles between factions in Zanu PF as recently evidenced by the chaos that characterised the party’s primary polls ahead of the July 31 plebiscite and the current provincial elections should ring a loud warning bell to President Robert Mugabe that he now needs to make it clear which way the wind is blowing in terms of succession.
Candid Comment with Brian Mangwende
Although competition is healthy, there is a danger the Zanu PF succession battle could eventually tear the party apart should the cracks deepen, with possible far-reaching implications for the country.
Last weekend’s developments where rival factions positioning themselves to take over from Mugabe when he eventually steps down — and that cannot be far off — were using all means fair or foul to win the provincial polls prompted Mugabe to cancel elections in his home province of Mashonaland West amid allegations of candidate impositions and attempts at rigging elsewhere.
Mugabe’s failure, or rather, reluctance to deal with the succession issue once and for all could continue to fuel rivalry among Zanu PF bigwigs. The party is reportedly split into two warring factions, one allegedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and the other by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. However, indications suggest Mujuru has an edge over Mnangagwa as she at times chairs Zanu PF’s supreme decision-making body in-between congresses, the politburo, when Mugabe steps out of the meeting for any reason.
On the other hand, Mnangagwa played a crucial role when he was defence minister by securing Mugabe victory using the military.
However, Mugabe is set to retain his stranglehold on power against the backdrop of indications that the succession debate is not on the agenda of the party’s conference slated for later this year in Chinhoyi.
Immediately after a resounding victory in the July 31 polls, Mugabe told journalists: “I am going to serve the whole term. Why should I put myself as a candidate if I were to resign?”
But what Mugabe needs to do is call for a special congress to effectively and decisively deal with the succession issue which is tearing Zanu PF apart.
He should take the opportunity at the special congress to at least come clear on a succession plan for he now has less pressure after winning the July polls. He should also take the opportunity afforded by the special congress to demonstrate statesmanship and announce not only to Zanu PF, but Zimbabweans at large, his succession plan. This will go a long way in narrowing the wide divisions within Zanu PF and help assure the country’s future.
But for some strange reason, this is not happening, hence the dogfights bedevilling the party.