A GROUP of Young Turks in Zanu PF known as Generation 40 (G40), which has been fighting for control of the party with a faction led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the bitter wrangle to succeed President Robert Mugabe, is mulling over a number of scenarios ahead of the 2018 general elections, including springing up First Lady Grace Mugabe as the party’s preferred presidential candidate.
Officials in the G40 group believe bringing Grace on board would bolster their bid to stop Mnangagwa from assuming the presidency or significantly strengthen them such that they would be able to get influential positions in the post-Mugabe era.
G40 is a network of ambitious mavericks like higher education minister Jonathan Moyo, local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, industry minister Mike Bimha and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, among other “youthful” allies.
Grace’s power lies in her closeness to Mugabe, whose word is virtually law in Zanu PF. Besides propping Grace, the G40 group is considering the merits and demerits of challenging for the presidency in the 2018 general elections, or whether the group should work with the 2023 general elections in mind.
“Having Grace on board could be crucial, but plans also have to be made in case she does not come on board. There are also serious implications should Mugabe not be there in 2018 because Grace will not enjoy the sort of influence she has now,” said an official linked to the group.
“Plans have to be made for us to be able to challenge even without Grace and this means we have to work on structures while also ensuring that a strong group of potential leaders emerges. At the moment Kasukuwere has raised his hand as a potential leader, but there is a need to come up with more people because some believe he is not the best candidate.”
Although the First Lady appeared to have dumped G40 after last December’s congress, as evidenced by Mugabe’s decision to remove former information minister Moyo from his politically powerful portfolio to the important but less politically strategic Ministry of Higher Education, Zanu PF officials say she is still in touch with the Young Turks.
Grace, who had taken a laid back approach after the Zanu PF congress last December where former vice-president Joice Mujuru lost her position after which she was expelled from the party, has of late been throwing jabs at Mnangagwa.
Relations between the Mnangagwa camp and the G40 group have however deteriorated as evidenced by the fight in parliament between the party’s political commissar Kasukuwere, a key member of G40, and Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena, a Mnangagwa ally.
Upon her entry into mainstream politics last year Grace praised Mnangagwa for respecting Mugabe and not planning to plot Mugabe’s overthrow like his long-time rival Mujuru, but of late she appears to have her guns trained on him.
Speaking in Binga where she launched an irrigation Grace appeared to blast Mnangagwa by insinuation while slamming factional wars.
“… Acting as president does not mean one is an heir apparent. This is what destroyed Mai Mujuru. Do not be caught offside. Tamba nevamwe zvakanaka (you must interact well with others).”
A G40 member told the Zimbabwe Independent they were aware Mnangagwa had the upperhand but said they believed they could upset him ahead of the 2018 general elections, and if not, in 2023.
“Succession politics is very fluid and unpredictable; who at the beginning of last year would have guessed that Mujuru would be thrown out of Zanu PF,” said the official.
As the purported leader of G40, Kasukuwere is also seen by many as a potential threat to Mnangagwa’s ascendancy. Despite the push, Mnangagwa loyalists believe he has too much experience to be dislodged by the G40 group.