Crunch time for Mugabe

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe returned from his Rome vacation yesterday amid an unusually tight security at Harare International Airport and also under pressure to deal with the boiling cauldron that Zanu PF politics has become over the past few weeks ever since his wife launched her vitriolic attacks on Vice President Joice Mujuru.

In addition to the extra-tight security that was visibly evident at the airport for his arrival, the nonagenarian also surprisingly dispensed with his normal practice of addressing Zanu PF supporters every time he comes back from a foreign trip, much to the disappointment of his followers.

Accompanied by the First Lady, Mugabe was welcomed by Mujuru, as well as a large contingent of Cabinet ministers, politburo members, the Zanu PF Harare leadership, service chiefs and senior government officials who had woken up early to receive him.

He was whisked away by aides and heavily armed security agents a short while after he had disembarked from the Air Zimbabwe plane, that he had commandeered for his trip to the Vatican, as soon as he had dispensed with the handshaking formalities, much to the disappointment of gathered private media journalists who were not allowed to cover the occasion.

And as was the embarrassing case on the outward journey, Grace reportedly petulantly declined to avail herself for a handshake with the seemingly composed Mujuru. The vice president has been the object of Grace’s diatribes over the past few weeks as the First Lady went around the country for her “Meet the People” tours.

“They did not shake hands, they just passed each other as if they were strangers. The president did not talk about the politics of the party but only spoke about his visit to Italy,” a senior Zanu PF official who asked not to be named confirmed.

And demonstrating that the couple’s visit to the Vatican, for the beatification of Pope Paul VI, had done little to thaw strained relations between Grace and Mujuru, the mood at the airport was tense.

Several MPs, notably youth deputy national chairperson Kudzai Chipanga and Harare South legislator Shadreck Mashayamombe were also turned away from receiving the 90-year-old strongman, and could only watch from a distance as Mugabe zoomed away in his long motorcade.

Zanu PF supporters, who of late have been descending at the Harare International Airport to demonstrate their loyalty to the president had to settle for the privilege of lining the road to wave their clenched fist at Mugabe’s motorcade.

However, the heavy presence of police raised eyebrows among supporters and observers alike, amid apparent misgivings that warring Zanu PF factions could take their fights even to the Harare International Airport.

There were hordes of police officers, some in anti-riot gear, who were at the airport to maintain peace and order.

In that light, there was no singing, dancing and certainly no love lost between the rival factions at the airport who were kept away from each other by police.

In savaging Mujuru, Grace has caused consternation among supporters of the VP who believe that the First Lady is being abused by a particular faction in Zanu PF.

Although Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mujuru are seen as the frontrunners to succeed Mugabe, the recent and unexpected entrance into the political fray by Grace has muddied the waters.

In the meantime, this week promises to be one of the biggest and most daunting in Mugabe’s long political career as he battles to manage the massive fallout in Zanu PF resulting from his wife’s reckless and relentless assaults of the past few weeks on the First Family’s perceived enemies inside the ruling party.

The 90-year-old leader will chair key Cabinet and politburo meetings today and tomorrow, which are taking place in the wake of unprecedented post-independence infighting within Zanu PF, emanating from escalating factional and succession wars that have been ventilated by the first lady’s entry into formal politics and her ill-advised recent utterances on Mujuru.

The key meetings, that are normally held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively, were postponed to today and tomorrow to accommodate Mugabe’s Rome sojourn.

So high are the stakes that one senior Zanu PF official described the Thursday politburo meeting, in particular, in an interview with the Daily News’s sister newspaper, the Daily News on Sunday, as “vitally important ... (in) a make-or-break week not just for the party, but for Mugabe himself as well”.

The official, who is also a Cabinet minister, said Grace Mugabe’s behaviour and utterances in her “Meet the People” rallies were “shocking and unprecedented, which is why the Cabinet and politburo meetings will not be easy for the president this week”.

“It is an understatement to say that tension is sky high within the party at the moment. In fact, I’ve never experienced such palpable tension in our party like we are witnessing at the moment since we returned from the war in 1980.

“In my humble view, this is a make-or-break week not just for the party, but for president Mugabe himself as well, as he has to try and manage this unprecedented tension in which his wife, the first lady, has played a key negative role.

“The president is, fortunately or unfortunately, the only person who can calm the waters a bit depending on what he does this week, and I pray that he will find Solomonic wisdom to deal with the ugliness that now pervades all party structures,” the official, who requested anonymity, said.

He added that the recent intra-party ructions did not have to be officially on the politburo agenda, “they would naturally be at the back of everything that would be said and done in the party” from now onwards.

“Look, what has happened is big and cannot be wished away.

“Unfortunately, it unwittingly places the president right in the middle of everything as his wife is at the centre of the current tension,” he said.

Another official said Grace had started “a fire that cannot be easily extinguished”.

“These are desperate times in our party and I do feel for the president as he is in a difficult position. If the party leadership does not deal with this matter carefully, I fear for the worst for our movement.

“Another thing that the first lady may not have taken into consideration in her offensive is that if she formally becomes leader of the Women’s League, she may soon have to work under some of the very same people that she is attacking in public now. Has she thought about how this will pan out?” he asked.

Analyst Shepherd Mntungwa wondered whether the events of the past few weeks marked “the beginning of the end for Mugabe”.

“While it is true that Zanu PF has experienced many serious challenges before, we have never witnessed events as dramatic and as potentially history-changing as those of the past few weeks.

“What makes things so complicated is that his own wife is now at the centre of the factionalism and anarchy.

“This is why I’m firmly of the belief that this week could even mark the beginning of the end of Mugabe and his long rule as he may battle to reinvent himself as demanded by the situation, remembering that he is no spring chicken anymore and the fact that his wife is now evidently wielding enormous influence in his decision making,” Mntungwa said.

Comments (29)

How can he deal with it when he is the instigator of the whole thing?

Bingo Wokwa Gutu - 22 October 2014

So that people know..... that young legislator called Justice Mayor Wadyajena is Mnangagwa`s secret key. I used to see Mnangagwa visit lot at Wadyajena`s office at Fidelity Life Tower along Raleigh road. Mayor Wadyajena is the one who handles all of Mnangagwa`s corrupt dealings. We all know that all his monies actually belong to Mnangagwa. Please Zanu pf investigate this. That is why this Mayor wadyajena is so arrogant.

KTM - 22 October 2014

Dailynews for a paper that claims to be fair and balanced i dont believ your article on mugabe is anyway close to that. We all know very well why they was a heavy presence at Harare airport is because some youths wanted to stage a demo aganist Dr Grace 2)You failed to mention that the harare province leaders that were allowed onto the tarmac were those that had organised the demo 3)its only lately that mugabe had started to address crowds at the airport, so its not fair to create an impressing it had been done over the yes. So please if your unbalanced reporting continues, you will be losing a reader in me.Yes you might say its one but imagine how many others out there feel the say and may take the same decision.

reader - 22 October 2014

The president is caught between a hard rock and a hard place. He is in a dilemma . Should he just ignore what is already in the public domain ie the fallout between his reckless and immature wife and a composed ,seasoned and popular VP. Though its public knowledge that Ngwena and Teurai are both eying the presidency the two have never publicly acknowledged their ambitions a sign of political maturity instead its the weevils Kasukuwere3 and Jonathan Moyo who are doing the talking for Nwena's faction complemented by the Pfambi club headed by Oppah . The president should not rely on hear say he should use counter intelligence to gather the truth not a bedroom source which is biased towards one faction.In the interest of fairness if he likes Ngwena to be his successor then he should just make that known to stop this madness and let Mujuru retain her VP post.They need her popularity and also Ngwena's shrewdness and cunningness.Both are necessary evils which should core exist.

Aluta Continua - 22 October 2014

reader or whatever you want to call yourself,Herald did not want to tell as it is when Grace started her madness.It was only later when they realised that they were shielding a mad women that they also started telling exactly what was happening in her rallies.So pliz do not waste your time blaming Dailynews coz the guys are informing us of what is really happening.Well I doubt if you will stop reading dailynews.

chimuti - 22 October 2014

The real question which is being missed here is that this is RG himself's plan. He had and still ahs things he wants to tell people and he has decided to do it through his wife. If he disapproved the maariage would be in trouble and they would not be in Italy together to worship God. Could this be the beginning of a Mugabe faction? Could those who have always known they have factions been out manuevered once more. From where I sit - watch the space - Sekuru is both wise and brilliant. His next dice will have all of us paralysed for years as he gives us a successor. Remember he is on record for saying "my best friend is my wife".

mai mujuru - 22 October 2014

Who is Grace? Wife of the President. Period. Why! denigrating Amai Mujuru, VP for that matter. kudheerera hutongika uku. Dai ri umwewo munhu angadai achitori mujere, key dzakakandwa mugungwa. George Orwell said it all "some animals are more equal than others". Animals with a tag "Mugabe", are more equal than all in Zim.

Tichaonerera - 22 October 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 22 October 2014

Reader is just an idiot. No sensible person can support Grace's tirade against mai Mujuru.Why single out mai Mujuru?Why leave the whole nation in the hands of a corrupt, useless acting head of state?

mharadzi mari - 22 October 2014

i wish our government ( if we have one) would concentrate on the proper running of the country rather that the endless succession battles than MAYBE this country of ours could move forward, but i suppose i am being rather silly

not happy - 22 October 2014

The President being whisked away soon after arrival? But I thought I saw him on TV talking about his visit to Rome, the bishops' decision on gays. Secondly I thought tight security is normal practice for the president so what is it that has changed this time around.

Ndugu - 22 October 2014

@Cde Ndugu, this is English comprehension, please! Now read the story again, this time very slowly and carefully. Thank you.

Khumalo - 22 October 2014

Ma Zimbabweans munoshamisa iko kufunda kwamunonzi makaita ndofunga syllabus yamuri kushandisa ndeyeku Jupiter chaiyo Dr Grace varikutaura zvavari kuona asi unoona munhu aku blamer Mnangagwa, Kasukuwere Jonathan Moyo imi munhu ari kutaura hamusi kumuona here

Nyamhangambiri - 22 October 2014

You want to know what Mugabe's plan is?? He will shout at the British, blame sanctions, homos and oppsition parties before going back into hidingor sleeping

selele - 22 October 2014

@Nyamhangambiri. Usade kungwara zvisina basa. Yes we see Mngangagwa speaking through Grace's mouth. Yes we see her taking advantage of the bipolar nature of the succession battle and of the fact that both Mai Mujuru and Ngwena are cowards. They are afraid of Bob.

fodya_yese_yese - 22 October 2014

Baba naAmai VaMugabe you must be thankful just imagine you could travel leaving Mai Mujuru acting president and come back seeing the nation in peace .I think the politbro should tuckle on that tomorrow without fear.Amai wants to incite violence of which we want to maintain peace in this beautiful country Zimbabwe

Tinotenda - 22 October 2014

what has changed is that he did not address his supporters and there was no mbare chimurenga choir and buttock girating

hezvoka - 22 October 2014

I dont think there is anything new that Mugabe can do. The old tactics are not going to work this time everyone is looking at him with wide open eyes. He has done it before but everything has got its end. In shona they say Muvimi anourayiwa netsvimbo dzake. which means if you use dirty tactics to play your dirty games, its the same dirty tactics that will will put an end to all your dealings. Lets learn from the late Caucesco's of Romania,not forgetting the very close friends of Bob the late Muamar Gaddafi and not leaving the late Saddam Hussein who were being saluted as Heroe's of oppressing people by Bob. What do you think is so special with Zimbabwe which can not come to an end. God is in proper control

Karigamombe - 22 October 2014

The way I see it, Mugabe is just going to denounce factionalism without mentioning any names as it is his own wife who is at the center of the storm and remind his comrades sternly that his post of Presidency is not yet up for grabs. He will then be whisked away in his motorcade to his residential palace in Borrowdale and take a good nap. As we speak Grace is preparing more diatribe to spew when she meets War Vets whom she has summoned to meet her tomorrow.Life goes on.

Dr Know - 22 October 2014

Bob vapera but its expected 34years in power baba even kamuzu banda was toppled, bob knows its the beginning of the end, thats why he has his wife doing his dirty work for him

Harare - 22 October 2014

Mugabe is a shrewed politician, he will come out of the Politburo meeting tops as he has done so many times when faced with many a dilema. he has had to face throught his political career. He has the answers up his sleeves. He is a crafty and nibble footed politician. Wait till tomorrow you will hear from Rugare Gumbo the spokesman about how candid the meeting was and how composed the president was and eventually how the President got everyone to rally behind the party and the first lady!!! And the party constitution allows to for the appointment of Seniors by the first secretary. Aluta Continua. Check my record - the president will have the last laugh and last say as he has done so many times, so many years to so many situations.

Kambiri - 22 October 2014

There will be no crunch time with Mugabe. He dominates everyone in ZanuPF. Nobody can stand up to Mugabe. He will simply walk into the meeting and tell party functionaries to stop factionalism, full stop, and move on to other issues like ZimAsset. I am sure Mujuru will apologise at the meeting for “upsetting” the Mugabes. At the moment she does not know whether to apologise or commit suicide or resign. Mujuru does not look clever to me. If people are expecting Mugabe to clear the air then they will wait forever - Mugabe does not apologise or back down on any issues, he issues directives and expects people to do as he says slavishly. Anyone who threatens his hold on power will get short shrift or the silent treatment. And anyone who expects Mujuru to hit back will be disappointed. She is a doormat. She will not utter a word against Mugabe. Something will soon give. But as things stand Mujuru is a dead woman walking.

Musona - 22 October 2014

ONLY SOMEONE WHO IS POLITICAL NAÏVE WOULD HAVE FAILED TO SEE THE FAC-TIONAL FIGHTING TIRING ZANU PF APART, COMING WAY BACK. MUGABE HAS RUN ZANU PF ON RATS IN A GRANARY ETHOES – EAT AND MULTIPLY. IT WAS JUST A MAT-TER OF TIME BEFORE HE RAN OUT OF THE CUSHY JOBS, CORRUPT DEALS, WHITE-OWNED FARMS TO LOOT, ETC. AND THE LAST YEAR WITH THE ECONOMY IN TOTAL MELTDOWN IT WAS CLEAR MUGABE HAD NO MORE BRIBES TO OFFER HIS FOLLOW-ERS. WORSE STILL EACH FACTION KNOWS ABJECT POVERTY AWAITS ALL THE LOS-ERS. THOSE WHO ARE HOPING AGAINST HOPE THAT MUGABE WILL SMOOTH THE ROUGH FEATHERS AND EVERYONE WILL BE HAPPY ARE EQUALLY NAÏVE. NOW THAT THE GRANARY IS EMPTY IT IS IRRELEVANT THAT THE NEST IS BIG TO ACCOMMODATE ALL THE RATS MANY MUST GO BECAUSE THERE IS NO FOOD TO FEED THEM ALL. THOSE WHO GET KICKED OUT OF THE ZANU PF RATS' NEST KNOW THAT ABJECT POV-ERTY AND EARLY DEATH FROM WANT AWAITS THEM. YES THIS IS A LIFE AND DEATH MATTER AND THUS FEAR OF THIS FACTIONAL FIGHT TURNING UGLY IS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED!

Wilbert Mukori - 22 October 2014

At age 90 one cannot talk about reinveting oneself. ZPF must split and that's what we are all looking forward to in anticipation!

Dopori - 22 October 2014

dr mujuru is paying for not properly investigating death of her hubby. imagine dai solo anga aripo.

chinoz - 22 October 2014

zpf is in self bondage, and so is always trying to put those in liberty into a new form of bondage. They subdue us, and bring every Zimbabwean into the bondage of bankrupt liberation rhetoric along the lines of pseudo 'doc' mugabe`s `spilling blood` vitrol. Because they find themselves in the bondage of deceit, corruption, and their pressing contingency plan of creating a now `de facto` mornachy, they do not see the reason for our liberty. They believe in freedom, for themselves, but can't trust it in others. False brethren have crept in unawares, and spy out our freedom, to bring us back into bondage daily. They believe in freedom, but can not give it to others... They preach the gospel of `never a colony again` by day, accurately and truly condeming our former imperialists, while subduing the ordinary man and woman by night; the very people whom they purport to have liberated,thus bringing you and me back into the bondage of `hero` worship, the sharing of poverty, the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. They have the liberty, we have the poverty; they have the pedestals, are surrounded by the bayonets of soldeirs and truncheons police, we have the pain. They do not truly believe that the same liberty is desired by all and sundry; because they can't trust that freedom in the average citizen...they can not trust themselves to give us the same liberty they have. Remember oh long-suffering Zimbabweans, great and good are seldom in the same man, I detest zpf, and that's purely for professional reasons. Being as wicked a party as it has revealed itself to be, the 'great' liberators have exploited their advantage to the fullest.

Chizvarwa cheZimbabwe.TSDube - 23 October 2014

Ndaona njanji yanga ichibva kure.Pedyo, yanga yava mujecha sekugwenga.Payanga ichifanira kunosvika panga pava pedyo pedyo.Asi kuti isvike panga paine rwizi rwune zambuko.Ndaona munjanji muine varume vanga vachifamba vachinzi ndovaya vakarwa Hondo yerusununguko. Vanga vachifamba pamwe chete asi paine mapoka maviri anga akapfeka zvakasiyana. Vava pedyo nekunoyambuka, pedyo pedyo, zvekukanda dombo, ndaona njanji yapazika, simbi dzayo dzamwararika.Zvapazika njanji ndaona vaita kutungana kwembudzi chete. Nguva yekukumbira kunaBaba vekudenga kuti vavake kuti njanji inosvitsa varume ava ichiripo asi zvirikwavari.

hwayana - 23 October 2014

The veteran politician deliberately created this leadership vacuum by not having a capable VP who is a threat or someone with balls to tell him to retire but the if plan is not well executed it will backfire.We have watch the drama and with divine intervention sanity will prevail and God will bring justice for He always comes to the rescue of His people at the opportune time.

OHARA - 24 October 2014

All comments posted here make quite some interesting reading. however, most, if not almost all miss the point. The problems facing Zimbabwe are not about President Mugabe, Amai Mujuru, Grace Mugabe, E. Mnangagwa or any of these prominent political actors. It's about the people of Zimbabwe and their inability to call a spade, a spade. Even the behaviour of Zimbabwean politicians is a result of the realisation that there will be no consequences for their action, however unacceptable they may be. Every politician knows pretty well that Zimbabweans are the most docile and compliant of all the ppl in the world. Zim politicians behave the way they do because they know that Zimbabweans will never call them to account. Zimbabweans should not blame anyone but themselves for any misfortunes which may befall them as a result of political mismanagement. Just an observation.

Mufudziwa Mambo - 29 October 2014

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