PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is expected to name his new-look Zanu PF presidium tomorrow which will most likely see the elevation of Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe’s former ambassador to South Africa Phelekezela Mphoko to the vice-presidency.
Zanu PF officials say national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, who survived an attempted purge by war veterans and youths from Matabeleland South on Monday, could feature in the new presidium with insiders tipping him to retain his position.
But Mugabe, who has been given powers to appoint members of the presidium, members of the politburo as well as 10 central committee members of his choice, could spring a surprise by appointing speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda or politburo member Kembo Mohadi to the position.
Khaya Moyo, Mohadi and Mphoko all have an interest in the vice-presidency while Mudenda’s name featured in the run-up to the congress as the faction controlled by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, which wanted Didymus Mutasa elevated to the position, collapsed like a pack of cards.
Mnangagwa, who appeared down and out before First Lady Grace Mugabe stormed the Zanu PF political scene to rescue his faction, is likely to emerge the biggest winner of the congress should he land the vice-presidency as expected. This will place him in good stead to succeed Mugabe.
Before Grace plunged headlong into the Zanu PF succession fray, the Mujuru faction was trailblazing like a runaway train as her camp controlled most of the party structures, including the politburo, central committee and the provinces.
Grace, however, viciously attacked Mujuru and her allies by making a litany of allegations including incompetency, extortion, corruption and gossip to which the faction found no answers.
Despite not being in Zanu PF structures for long, seen as a massive disadvantage a few months ago, senior officials believe Mphoko is likely to land the vice-presidency because of the good personal relationship he enjoys with Mugabe.
Mphoko is one of the remaining senior Zapu/Zipra leaders who have remained loyal to Mugabe.
He is one of the founding Zipra commanders who went on to become Zapu’s representative in Maputo where he rubbed shoulders with senior Zanu and ANC bigwigs, including Mugabe and South African President Jacob Zuma, during the liberation war.
Mphoko has served as ambassador to Botswana, Russia and South Africa. He is also close to Zuma, who has an uneasy relationship with Mugabe.
Despite being linked to the Mujuru faction, Khaya Moyo and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi have survived the purges targeting officials linked to Mujuru.
Khaya Moyo was a one-time favourite to land the vice-presidency, but his fortunes changed when the Mujuru faction was crushed.
Mujuru, Mutasa, Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema, Labour minister Nicholas Goche, Education minister Lazarus Dokora and Minister of State Sylvester Nguni are now ordinary Zanu PF card-carrying members after failing to make it into the central committee.
The party’s former spokesman Rugare Gumbo was expelled from the party on Wednesday, joining former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda on the sidelines.
Politburo members Angeline Masuku, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Absolom Sikhosana also fell by the wayside alongside political commissar Webster Shamu.
Despite being tainted by Gukurahundi atrocities like Mnangagwa and the Willowgate scandal, former Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) chairperson Mudenda’s star could rise further as he is one of the frontrunners to land the national chairman’s position.
Mudenda has a remarkable rise-fall-rise tale. He was appointed speaker after last year’s general elections, shortly after Mugabe had plucked him from political obscurity through appointment to chair the commission.
He was one of the provincial chairpersons to be suspended from Zanu PF for participating in what became known as the Tsholotsho Declaration.
After time in the political wilderness, Mugabe surprisingly appointed Mudenda to the politburo in 2011 before convincing then prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai he was suitable to chair the ZHRC.
Mohadi, Zanu PF’s deputy secretary for security, declared his interest in the vice-presidency ahead of the congress, but realistically he only stands a chance in the race for the national chairship.