Moyo backs Sekeramayi

…savages Mnangagwa on Mugabe succession

IN a new twist to President Robert Mugabe’s protracted succession battle, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, also a Zanu PF politburo member, has endorsed Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi to succeed the veteran leader ahead of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

By Wongai Zhangazha/Hazel Ndebele

Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo
Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo

This comes as pressure is mounting on Mugabe to call an extraordinary congress to allow a new leader to be elected before next year’s crucial general elections. Details gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent this week show Mugabe could soon make a shock move to unravel his succession conundrum.

Top Zanu PF officials say Mugabe is not convinced about Mnangagwa — widely seen as the frontrunner in the succession race — or his wife Grace taking over from him, and is thus now weighing the option of anointing Sekeramayi his successor.

“We are moving towards a critical moment now; something must give,” a senior Zanu PF official told the Independent this week. “Mugabe has to decide which way to go on this issue. He still has residual control and influence to determine the outcome of his succession, but that window of opportunity is fast closing.”

In prepared notes for his presentation last night at the Sapes Trust Policy Dialogue Forum titled Whither the Nationalist Project in Zimbabwe?, Moyo — speaking in his personal capacity — said Sekeramayi was a far better candidate to succeed Mugabe than Mnangagwa.

“The notion peddled by the so-called Team Lacoste that its leader is the only one who is above or senior to everyone else below President Mugabe is false and that falsehood should stop. There are others that are senior to the leader of the so-called Team Lacoste,” Moyo said.

“One of them, by way of an important example, is Dr Sydney Sekeramayi whose loyalty to President Mugabe, the party and country; whose liberation credentials, experience, consensus-style of leadership, stature, commitment to the nationalist project and humility have no match.

“So there are others. In fact, I must add that even Vice-President (Phelekezela) Mphoko is senior to the leader of the so-called Team Lacoste.”

After being quiet for sometime, Moyo, who kept on emphasising he was not speaking as a minister or Zanu PF official, but as “Jonathan Moyo”, re-emerged with fierce political intensity; showering praises on Sekeramayi, describing him as “humble, grounded and someone who carried the stature of a president”, while savaging Mnangagwa.

Zanu PF is embroiled in a nasty succession battle with two rival groups, the G40 faction backed by First Lady Grace Mugabe and the Mnangagwa camp battling to produce a successor to Mugabe.

Moyo said while he preferred Sekeramayi to succeed Mugabe, he was aware the Mnangagwa faction was manoeuvring to grab power.

“I don’t think there is any rational person in Zimbabwe who is now not aware that the so-called Team Lacoste is presenting itself in general and its candidate, VP Mnangagwa in particular, as a shoo-in: Tapinda tapinda! (we have made it; we are in!) is their song punctuated with their refrain that mudhara achauya (our leader is coming),” Moyo said.

“The loud successionist whisper early in the year was that ‘something was going to happen in April’. What was or is something that was supposed to happen? Then in March the heat was turned on the Zanu PF national commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, who faced dubious votes-of-no-confidence under the absurd claims that he had set up parallel structures to topple President Mugabe. The ensuing and unprecedented pressure on Cde Kasukuwere was dubbed ‘The Momentum’. What momentum or momentum towards what?”

Moyo said it was important to assess “Team Lacoste and its candidate” which wants to seize power against seven features of Zimbabwe’s nationalist project.

Defining it as “a summation of the founding values, principles and aspirations of the anti-colonial, independence movement”, Moyo said the nationalist project was now under threat from Mnangagwa and his faction.

“On the national question, it is a matter of public record that the so-called Team Lacoste defines power as chinhu chedu (our thing) because the team and its leader have no sense of the importance of collective belonging or the national unity of Zimbabweans as a permanent aspiration of the people or as an expression of the power of the people,” he said. “On the economic question, it is again now in the public domain that the so-called Team Lacoste is about command economics, command politics and command ideology such that everything is now about command. There was something to be said about command agriculture as a maize import substitution programme, but the extension of the command farming to everything, even before stock has been taken of the maize import substitution programme, is amazing. This command framing business is as revealing as it is dangerous.”

Moyo said the Mnangagwa faction was also a threat to the current constitutional order.

He said the position taken by the Mnangagwa faction was a menace to political order and stability.

“An example of this is the current campaign against the Peace and National Reconciliation Bill being spearheaded by Vice-President Mphoko. Of greater concern to me about the threat to order and stability posed by the so-called Team Lacoste and its leader are the issues contained in a document dubbed Blue Ocean that started circulating in 2015 and an interview that Vice- President Mnangagwa gave to an elite British magazine the New Statesman last year entitled The Last Days of Robert Mugabe,” he said.

“These two documents tell a very sad story about a sinister programme of capturing state institutions and targeting individuals for extrajudicial attacks in ways that betray the nationalist project in as much as they threaten order and stability in the country.”

Blue Ocean — Taking Back Zanu PF is a document allegedly written by some war veterans supporting Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe. The document alleges Moyo and Kasukuwere, key G40 members, are using Grace to push their political ambitions.

It says there is growing discontent in Zanu PF over Mugabe’s reluctance to install Mnangagwa as his successor.

Moyo said the Mnangagwa faction was battling to win support and endorsement of foreigners instead of fighting to win the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans.

“Loud whispers are everywhere within successionists circles that Zimbabwe needs British support through such schemes as the Lima Debt Initiative or that Zimbabwe needs a Deng (Xiaoping) or a (Paul) Kagame and the leader of Team Lacoste is in that mould. How about that Zimbabwe needs a Mugabe, a Joshua Nkomo, a Simon Muzenda or Herbert Chitepo?” Moyo said.

He said the Mnangagwa group had shown “surprising hostility to youths, who are not only the vanguard of the party today, but who are also the critical pool from which the skills necessary to industrialise and modernise Zimbabwe must be developed, trained and deployed”.

“In my analysis, the so-called Team Lacoste poses a clear and present threat to the nationalist project. The threat is dangerous not least because it comes at a time not only when the centrepieces of the nationalist project have found expression in the new constitution, but also on the eve of the 2018 elections. It is important that the 2018 elections are used to consolidate the gains and legacy of the nationalist project,” Moyo said.

He urged “the silent majority in the nationalist movement” to “stand up and be counted in defence of the nationalist project” going forward.

“… the current situation where the so-called Team Lacoste uses a whisper campaign to carry out a silent power grab is harmful to the nationalist project. Time has come to subject the so-called Team Lacoste to open and public scrutiny consistent with the values and aspirations of the nationalist project and our new constitution. People who say they are on the verge of taking over power deserve that kind of robust scrutiny. It would be tragic for Zimbabweans to wake up into a power grab,” he said.

Moyo added it was time that “the myth entertained not only by the so-called Team Lacoste, but also by others, including in countries like Britain, that Vice-President Mnangagwa is the designated successor or that he is the successor on the verge of taking over anytime from now” be debunked.

“The position is that there is no vacancy in the Office of the President in the party or in government. Where there is no vacancy any talk or activity of succession — such as contained in the Blue Ocean document and in the New Statesman interview, is by definition subversive.”