HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s unrestrained attacks on Information minister Jonathan Moyo reveal a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Zanu PF, with vice president Joice Mujuru’s faction earning the president’s ear, analysts have said.
The “nucleus” of the plot is inside a faction headed by Mujuru, which is baying for Moyo’s blood claiming he is using the State media to antagonise the faction led by the Vice President in their battle to succeed the 90-year-old Mugabe.
Mugabe reportedly met Moyo on Monday but details of their one-on-one showdown remained a mystery while members of the Mujuru faction are reportedly putting pressure on the veteran Zimbabwe leader to push out the Information minister.
Yesterday, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who is believed to be a member of the Mujuru faction, piled more pressure on Moyo.
Asked by the Daily News if he knew the outcome of the Mugabe/Moyo meeting, Gumbo said: “I have not been briefed and as such I know nothing about the meeting,” he said.
Questioned if the party was cracking the whip on Moyo, Gumbo said: “It is the prerogative of the politburo and the President to rein in divisive elements. The issue will be discussed in the politburo and if action needs to be taken, it will be taken.
“But the president was very clear that he was not happy with some members who are trying to divide the party. The president emphasised that we should remain united and concentrate on service delivery. He made it clear that he was unhappy about some divisive elements and that party members should promote unity.”
As the saga rages on, the country’s military said the army had not approached the country’s leadership to save Moyo from being expelled.
Air Force of Zimbabwe commander, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, refuted media reports that Moyo had rushed to their hierarchy seeking to forestall his expulsion from Zanu PF.
Shiri told State TV yesterday: “As military, we have been schooled into understanding that the gun does not command the party, but the party does command the gun. We do not interfere in the politics of Zanu PF, we only get involved in politics when the country is under external threat.”
No-nonsense zanu PF administration secretary, Didymus Mutasa declined to comment on Mugabe’s meeting with Moyo.
“Mwana wangu, (my son) I cannot give you a comment,” Mutasa told the Daily News.
“All matters to do with the president, you speak to Charamba (George). He is the best person to answer your question whether the president met with minister Moyo.”
Charamba was not picking up his mobile yesterday.
While Moyo could not be reached for comment yesterday, as his mobile phone went unanswered the whole day, he has in the past insisted that he does not belong to the faction reportedly led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, which is also angling to succeed Mugabe.
But the Mujuru faction insists that he belongs to the Mnangagwa faction and have prepared dossiers against Moyo which they believe will also weaken the rival faction or those whom they believe to be working with the Information minister.
They reportedly prepared a dossier nailing Moyo, whose contents enraged Mugabe that he savaged the 57-year-old minister for two consecutive days.
“Don’t plant seeds of division,” Mugabe said at Nathan Shamuyarira’s funeral at the Heroes Acre.
Earlier on Friday, Mugabe described Moyo as divisive and “the devil incarnate”, who sacked hardworking and loyal editors at State-owned newspapers and replacing them with opposition sympathisers.
Mutasa at the weekend told party youths in Mutare that a strong chemical was needed to kill weevils in the party.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa are seen as the two major protagonists leading the race to succeed 90-year-old Mugabe. And as the party hurtles towards a crucial congress scheduled for December, stakes are in favour of the VP, who has received a boost by Mugabe’s blistering attack on Moyo.
A Mujuru faction member yesterday said they had prepared “deadly” ammunition against Moyo.
Said a Mujuru faction member yesterday: “The dossier presented at the politburo was worked out over time and it details Moyo’s involvement in destabilising the party from within. There were a number of issues which angered President Mugabe including this Jukwa scandal, and Moyo’s previous fights with top Zanu PF and government officials.
“Do you think it’s a coincidence that in the past Moyo fought vicious battles with both late vice Presidents, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo, Nathan Shamuyarira, the late General Solomon Mujuru and even the president himself when he was expelled from the party.
“And in the few months he has been in Cabinet, he has fought with everyone including Vice President Mujuru, Cde Mutasa, Gideon Gono, Obert Mpofu, the police, Temba Mliswa and others. Is it a coincidence that Jonathan (Moyo) has fought with the three vice presidents?” charged the Mujuru faction member.
But analysts said Mugabe’s attacks were a ploy to divert attention from real issues.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, the director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), said Mugabe’s attack on Moyo was redolent with tribal connotations.
“His (Mugabe’s attacks are in bad taste and should not be taken seriously,” Ruhanya said. “People should not lose focus to the glaring fact that Mugabe and the authoritarian system he constructed for 34 years are the national problem, not Moyo.
“Mugabe could be accused of trying to promote Zezuru hegemony in Zanu PF. These tribal fault lines will haunt Zanu PF in this succession issue. Why is Mugabe parroting the Joice Mujuru rants against Moyo?”
Mnangagwa comes from the Midlands, a predominantly Karanga-speaking region, while Mujuru, like Mugabe, are both from the Zezuru ethnic group.
Alex Magaisa, the former advisor to ex-prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and a political analyst, said Mugabe is singing from the same hymn book with Mujuru, but warned that the faction should not sit on its laurels because Moyo was plotting a comeback.
“Now Mugabe is speaking the same language with Mujuru, accusing Moyo of being a weevil, we know the modus operandi of a weevil is to drill and consume the inside of a seed, Mugabe is using the same script. This suggests that the Mujuru faction has scored big against their rival faction to which Moyo belongs.”
Tellingly, Mutasa, immediately after Moyo’s humiliation called for his annihilation.
“Mutasa has previously declared his support for Mujuru as Mugabe’s successor,” Magaisa said.
“So there is a sense of victory there. But nothing is permanent in politics,” he said, adding that Mugabe’s vitriol might be a high-sounding nothing.
“If Mugabe wants to get rid of Moyo, he has the power to fire him. Making a public criticism suggests that he might be scared of the repercussions of firing him and might just be trying to please the Mujuru faction. It’s too early for them to celebrate. They must avoid the premature celebration syndrome.”