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Drama in Zanu PF madhouse

BERKSHIRE CEO Warren Buffet, an American business magnate, once wrote: “No sooner is one problem solved than another surfaces — never is there just one cockroach in the kitchen.”

Editor’s Memo with Dumi Muleya

This seems to be the situation currently in Zanu PF’s kitchen — there is more than one cockroach.

Life for President Robert Mugabe and his party officials these days seems like a series of problems waiting to happen.

All sorts of things are happening, ranging from public name-calling to character assassinations and physical violence.

This is all linked to Mugabe’s succession manoeuvring which now has some Hollywood flavour as shown by the so-called “The Dirty Dozen” story in the state media involving Zanu PF MPs allegedly receiving secret funding from the US.

The headline of the story was apparently derived from the 1967 American war film, The Dirty Dozen.

Zanu PF officials, who used to blame the media for their infighting, now clash without restraint in public, criticising each other with reckless abandon along factional lines at every turn, while calling each other spies or gay gangsters.

Some, like Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao’s wife and other nasty pieces of work, have resorted to public threats and violence against rivals to push their factional agendas.

Certain elements in the media have joined the fray, while some are just enjoying the drama in the Zanu PF madhouse.

No one knows where the next volcanic-like eruption within Zanu PF is going to be. It’s one problem after the other.

Even endless politburo meetings like the one held on Wednesday and Mugabe’s increasingly vociferous, if not lame, threats will not stop the internal strife.

Leaders, as those in management discourse say, encounter problems daily, even hourly.

How they deal with them shows either strong or weak leadership, or worse still total lack of it. Successful ones learn how to deal with them; develop techniques to manage or solve them.

Mugabe used to be able to manage his party efficiently, albeit by authoritarian means. Unfortunately, he seems to be losing control. The centre is no longer holding and things might fall apart, to use Chinua Achebe’s famous novel title.

Just like US President Lyndon Johnson’s experience in Vietnam, no matter how hard Mugabe tries to quell the raging succession fires inside the Zanu PF cauldron, he can’t bend the will of belligerents locked in the fierce power struggle to take over from him.

There is a theory Mugabe enjoys the infighting because it enables him to remain in control through divide-and-rule.

However, this ignores the reality that leaders facing such problems must find solutions immediately or risk losing the loyalty of their followers and overall control.

Who knows what will eventually happen in Zanu PF if Mugabe completely loses control or when he is gone?

The Zanu PF succession crisis has reached boiling point even if some would like to argue these are just skirmishes. If they are mere scuffles, why is it that whenever party leaders step back to get the benefit of perspective and clear-headedness, the infighting intensifies?

Political stakes are very high given the watershed congress slated for December.

This would be possibly Mugabe’s last congress unless an extraordinary one is held before 2019 when the next one after December would be constitutionally due. His succession is likely to be largely decided in December even if he remains in charge.

The real issue is Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s fate. If she survives, she will move a step closer to power. If she is swept away by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Grace political tsunami or anybody else for that matter, it would be a game-changing development.

The other issues, besides the military factor and related security dynamics, are rather peripheral even if they may influence the final outcome.

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