FOR all the divisions and cut-throat rivalry as Zanu PF politicians position themselves in the long-running war to succeed veteran President Robert Mugabe, the party factions are not hard and fast as there has been and continues to be fluidity which allows constant movement among them.
Factions the world over have been based on a variety of factors, the most significant being ideological and policy differences.
Not long after America’s declaration of independence in 1776, had factions began to form as ideological differences emerged over the extent of power to be wielded by the federal government.
The Federalists, led by Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, wanted a strong central government, but clashed with anti-Federalists led by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.
The Anti-Federalists advocated greater states’ rights and less power for the federal government.
There was a similar contest in France between 1792 and 1793 as the revolutionaries split into the Jacobin and Girondist factions. The former were pro-poor and favoured a strong central government in Paris, while the latter were dominated by upper bourgeoisie elements that were more inclined to a federal system in which the provinces had greater autonomy.
However, in Zimbabwe, such ideological and policy clashes appear not to exist and there is little to choose between members of the various Zanu PF factions that have emerged since Independence in 1980.
Personality rather than ideology or policy clashes have been the driver of factions and as such these have also tended to be very fluid with as the players re-align themselves with those leaders whose fortunes will be shining brightest at the time. The factions have been driven at various points by the struggle to succeed Mugabe who has ruled the country since Independence from Britain in 1980, and in recent times the two main rivals have been Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his predecessor Joice Mujuru.
Zanu PF leaders like Oppah Muchinguri, who backed Mujuru as she outmanoeuvred Mnangagwa in 2004, had by last year realigned with Mnangagwa as he elbowed out Mujuru to become Mugabe’s second-in-command and position himself for the top job. Others who switched allegiance to Mnangagwa last year to remove Mujuru include political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, and their actions were motivated less by any ideology or policy differences as they were by personality clashes and disgruntlement over unfulfilled personal expectations of reward.
However, some including like Kasukuwere, have since dumped Mnangagwa and are coalescing around a G40 group of Young Turks like another erstwhile Mnangagwa ally, Jonathan Moyo, who enjoy the support of the First Lady Grace Mugabe.
And again the differences with Mnangagwa do not appear to emanate from any known ideological or policy contradictions.
In addition there are other shared factors that promote the fluidity, including issues of ethnicity, family relationships, inter-marriages, shared experiences in school and university as well as personal friendships.
Mnangagwa may have fought a long war for supremacy against Mujuru and his victory resulted in the sacking of the latter, along with many other senior party officials like former indigenisation minister Francis Nhema.
However, that has not prevented Mnangagwa and Nhema from fraternising as two politicians with a shared ethnic and regional background. Both hail from the Midlands province and Mnangagwa’s Mapanzure area near Zvishavane is not far from Nhema’s home area in Shurugwi. The two share the Shumba totem and not even the serious scheming and in-fighting that preceded Mujuru’s ouster last year could dampen Mnangagwa’s warm appreciation of Nhema.
At last year’s Midlands Agricultural Show, Mnangagwa, who is the patron of the event, not only arranged for Nhema to be feted and decorated as well as granting him honorary life membership of the society. He went so far as becoming a traditional praise-singer, lauding Nhema as “Shumba inogocha nyama nemuromo wayo” (literally, the lion that roasts the meat with its mouth).
Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was widely perceived to be a front-runner for the vice-presidency only to be supplanted by the relatively obscure Phelekezela Mphoko because of his reportedly close ties to the ousted Mujuru.
However, he could easily work with the Mnangagwa group as he already has common ground in the form of inter-marriage between his and the family of July Moyo, the chief strategist in the Mnangagwa camp.
Moyo has ties with the likes of Rugare Gumbo and Fred Moyo as all of them are from the Mberengwa district in the Midlands.
They are reportedly all related. Gumbo, who continues to work closely with Mujuru, is also related to Transport minister Joram Gumbo who is one of the senior figures in the Mnangagwa camp.
Ignatius Chombo’s roots in Zvimba and reported family relationship with Mugabe would suggest a closer alliance with the likes of the First Lady and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao and Philip Chiyangwa in the G40 group slugging it out with Mnangagwa, but he appears vacillating between the Mnangagwa and Grace factions.
He reportedly works well with July Moyo who also deputises him in the party where he is secretary for administration.
Chombo and Moyo are known to have a friendship dating back to their time together as university students in the United States in the 1970s where the latter was instrumental in raising funds for Zanu PF’s war effort.
The Nguni brothers, Goodson and Sylvester, have also backed the rival Mnangagwa-Mujuru factions. While Goodson has been in the Mnangagwa camp, Sylvester worked closely with Mujuru as minister of State in her office before being fired. There are likely to be more re-alignments in the factions as the succession war drags on.