THE expulsion of the country’s former president Robert Mugabe from Zanu PF, resulting in the appointment of Emmerson Mnangagwa as its new leader, could result in the rejuvenation of the deeply divided and fractured ruling party.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
Zanu PF was ravaged by factional fights between the camp led by Mnangagwa and one that had coalesced around former First Lady Grace Mugabe, resulting in Mugabe sacking his deputy.
As Grace intensified her push to be appointed vice-president to replace Mnangagwa and possibly replace Mugabe as President, the military intervened, initially warning against the purging of party members, particularly with liberation credentials.
After Zanu PF Youth League attacked Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga for the statement, accusing him of treasonable conduct, military commanders took over government operations in the early hours of Wednesday morning last week in an operation code-named “Restore Legacy”, which they said was meant to weed out criminals around Mugabe and prevent the political situation degenerating into violent conflict.
While the move to remove Mugabe has been widely welcomed, as evidenced by the heavily-subscribed solidarity march on Saturday, which was attended by thousands of Zimbabweans, among them, opposition parties and civil society, political analyst Ibbo Mandaza has warned against getting carried away.
“It makes sense to forget everything else and focus on this historic moment, but at what cost to the broader pro-democracy, human rights, state accountability, comprehensive state reforms, ending impunity and transparent natural resource governance?” Mandaza queries.
“Have we or are we in danger of donating a political kidney to a Zanu PF that was on its death bed and, in essence, adding more years to its lifespan as a governing party?
There is a belief among those, either looking for jobs or that have been promised jobs, to seek to normalise the abnormal.”
He adds: “Indeed, Mugabe must go, but, more fundamentally, the system must go!”
Mandaza’s concerns are not without foundation. After the solidarity march, Patrick Chinamasa said Zanu PF does not need to form a coalition with opposition parties.
“What happened today has nothing to do with the opposition, it has nothing to do with the national government, we are cleansing our own party,” Chinamasa said.
“We were correcting our own mess, we have the majority in Parliament. We can expel the President alone and we are the ruling party, so where does a coalition come in, we do not need them?”
Although Chinamasa’s comments were roundly condemned by MDC Alliance member Tendai Biti and war veterans’ chairperson Chris Mutsvangwa, it has triggered misgivings that the process could embolden Zanu PF to go it alone without involving other stakeholders going forward. Economist Godfrey Kanyenze said although the removal of Mugabe was based on factional fights within Zanu PF, it represents an opportunity to build a broad alliance based on an inclusive and democratic framework as Zanu PF cannot go it alone.
“Chinamasa’s comments were egoistic and narrow and highly antagonistic and have not led us anywhere,” Kanyenze said.
“Chinamasa’s way is fraught with problems and is not sustainable. It will only lead us into a cul-de-sac.”