By Blessings Mashaya
Political analysts say the recent suspensions of key Zanu PF officials aligned to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa leave the Midlands godfather with the option of either fighting back or sinking quietly.
This comes as Masvingo provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira and Midlands secretary for administration, Justice Mayor Wadyajena — who are viewed as Mnangagwa’s key allies — said they are unaware of the purported suspensions, which were sanctioned by Zanu PF’s political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere.
The duo was said to have been suspended together with Masvingo’s youth league political commissar Brian Munyoro and Midlands acting vice chairperson, Godwin Shiri over a slew of allegations.
Analysts warned Mnangagwa that he was now under systematic attacks ahead of the December special congress which could be his waterloo unless he fights back to lift the spirits of his followers.
“I think Mnangagwa will survive at the congress but will be left severely wounded.
“He might remain in the politburo but without powers to change anything. But you must also know that the president has liberty even to fire the VP today.
“However, he must come up with counter strategies towards the days of the congress like throwing the name of (Water and Climate Change minister Oppah) Muchinguri-Kashiri for the post of vice president.
“He must play delaying tactics until he gets towards the special congress. The idea is that they want to isolate him (Mnangagwa).
“Look what happened on the issue of Cabinet reshuffle he was left isolated,” University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masungure, told the Daily News.
Another political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said although odds appeared to be heavily stacked against Mnangagwa, it would be foolhardy to expect him to go the “Mujuru way”, in apparent reference to how his predecessor Joice, was sacked from the party at the 2014 congress.
“The idea is to weaken him so that at the congress he won’t stand or will be too weak to win anything. He has to start challenging Mugabe or he will be history soon. He needs to assert himself and defend his surrogates doing the leg work for him.
“If you look at the nonsensical charges against Mayor you will see how illogical the institution is. Who abuses more Zanu PF members on social media between Jonathan Moyo and Mayor? I think these moves are naked attempts by G40 using the commissariat to do a hatchet job against Lacoste after Mugabe failed to fire Mnangagwa at all as wanted by his wife,” said Saungweme.
Former Zanu PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West, Temba Mliswa who is now an independent MP for Norton constituency posted on micro blogging site, Twitter, that Zanu PF was committing “political suicide”.
“Jonathan Moyo gets away with it, the first lady (Grace Mugabe) who has committed all those offences is allowed to reign supreme. The party commits suicide!” wrote Mliswa on Twitter following the suspensions of the four Zanu PF officials.
Chadzamira was accused of fanning tribalism and spreading hate while Wadyajena was accused of using social media to promote gossip.
The suspension of Chadzamira came hardly four months after winning the Masvingo elections twice, following a controversial re-run which later saw his rival, Masanganise Mutero, pulling out days before polling, citing irregularities.
Mugabe and the politburo had nullified results from the initial regional poll, which was again won by Chadzamira, amid claims of irregularities, including people not voting in some districts.
According to Zanu PF constitution only an appointed disciplinary committee can suspend party members.
Section 71 of the ruling party constitution states that “all disciplinary committees of the party shall conduct their hearings informally but having proper regards to the principles of natural justice”, and section 79, goes further to say “any member of the party against whom disciplinary action is intended to be taken shall first be issued with a prohibition order and notice of charges in writing…”
However, in the case of the quartet no such procedures were taken — fuelling suspicion that the latest suspensions were aimed at weakening Mnangagwa ahead of the congress at the end of the year.
“It is difficult to know what Mnangagwa can do to demonstrate the cost benefit of his retention, or rather the dangers of the strangulation strategy now in play, to Mugabe and Zanu PF generally.
“In a context of opportunism and survival, it is not always clear where your true allies are. It seems to me that Mnangagwa’s best bet may be to try and use the courts to try and force an assessment of whether law and process is indeed being followed. This worked for Mutsvangwa and the war veterans’ executive, at least for the moment,” Piers Pigou, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group told the Daily News yesterday.
With Zanu PF divided right in the middle over the party’s unresolved succession riddle, the factional feuds took an ominous turn in August when Mnangagwa fell sick during an interface rally in Gwanda — which his backers said was allegedly a poison attack by his G40 enemies.
The Midlands godfather was later airlifted to South Africa where he received emergency surgery. He subsequently issued a statement denying that his illness was caused by ice cream from the First Family’s Gushungo Dairies, although he has consistently suggested that he was poisoned.
Recently, Mnangagwa again suggested to hordes of his supporters who had converged at Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu, for the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s memorial service, that he was poisoned in the same way Mahofa was in 2015.
In the current wars, the Lacoste group is backing Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, while the G40 is bitterly opposed to his mooted higher ambitions.
Mugabe has consistently refused to name a successor, arguing that it is Zanu PF that must decide this issue through a congress when the time comes.
The ruling party last held its congress in Harare three years ago, where it sacked Mujuru and several other senior officials who included Mutasa over the untested allegations of plotting to unseat Mugabe.
There are calls for Zanu PF to amend its constitution to re-introduce a clause to have a woman in the party’s presidium which was originally presented as a women’s league resolution at the annual conference that was held in Victoria Falls in December 2015.
Both insiders and political analysts agree that the move is “a transparent plot” to oust Mnangagwa, and possibly replace him with Grace.
Zanu PF resorted to the quota system in 2004 to accommodate Mujuru at the expense of Mnangagwa. However, the system was expediently abandoned in 2014 to allow him to succeed Mujuru.
In terms of the ruling party’s constitution, an extra-ordinary congress may be convened whenever it is deemed necessary, at the instance of the members of the central committee or its president and first secretary.
Alternatively, it can be convened at the instance of resolutions of at least five provincial executive councils to that effect.
But unless there are constitutional amendments at the mooted congress, only Mugabe’s position will be contested. The rest of the party’s senior officials will be appointed by the current or new president. Daily News