SUCCESSION manoeuvres in Zanu PF are intensifying ahead of the party’s congress in December as Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa moves to secure an alliance with former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono.
Mnangagwa and Vice-President Joice Mujuru are reportedly leading the two main factions battling to succeed Mugabe, but have consistently denied this.
The development comes amid a surprise political development in which Mugabe’s wife, Grace, is set to take over as Women’s League boss from veteran politician Oppah Muchinguri.
Mnangagwa took a major step in bringing Gono closer by bestowing him an honorary life membership for the Midlands Show Society.
This has widely been read to be an attempt by Mnangagwa to reinforce his camp by recruiting an influential player reported to be Mugabe’s personal banker and close advisor.
Despite moving out of government after retiring as central bank governor, Gono remains closely connected to the Mugabe family.
This appears to have spurred Mnangagwa to seek an alliance with him.
In a letter dated May 30, Mnangagwa, who is the patron of the Midlands Show Society, wrote: “The patron, president, chairman and executive committee of the Midlands Show Society are pleased to inform you that you have been awarded honorary life membership of the Midlands Show Society.
“You are therefore invited to receive the honour at our prestigious dinner reception to be held on the 1st of August 2014 at Fairmile Hotel at 1800 hours. We thank you and hope you will accept this invitation.”
A senior Zanu PF Midlands legislator, who preferred anonymity, said the invitation flies in the face of a perceived rift between Gono and Mnangagwa.
“I think the ED (Mnanagagwa) camp has pulled the rug from under Mujuru’s camp as some of them viewed Gono as theirs,” he said.
In a subsequent programme of events made available to the Zimbabwe Independent, Mnangagwa also invited Gono to present a lecture on “Indigenisation and the Way Forward” today at a business conference being held under the theme “Creating an Enabling Economic Environment”.
Gono has clashed with government ministers, including former Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Information minister Jonathan Moyo, over the empowerment law, arguing a “one-size-fits-all approach would not work in Zimbabwe.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa was also scheduled to open the three-day business conference.
Both Gono and Chinamasa were unlikely to attend as they are reported to be out of the country.
Gono is reportedly on a study tour in South Asia and Chinamasa has taken the begging bowl to Russia, seeking funding for government economic blueprint ZimAsset.
Gono was nominated by the Manicaland province to replace former Dare Rechimurenga, politburo and cabinet member Kumbirai Kangai, who died in August last year, and the nomination was endorsed by the politburo.
His elevation to Manicaland Senator now appears imminent after parliament passed the Electoral Amendment Bill.
The Bill was sent to Mugabe recently for his assent.