Mugabe — master of divide and rule tactics

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s seeming encouragement of Zanu PF’s escalating factional wars shows that he is “a master of divide and rule politics”, analysts say.

The sentiment was made yesterday as the ruling party’s ugly infighting turns increasingly violent and messier by the day, with supporters of embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru and those of Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa going at each other hammer and tongs over the past few months.

The fights have crystallised in Mujuru being accused by her party enemies of plotting to assassinate Mugabe, while nine of Zanu PF’s provincial chairpersons, who were only voted into office a year ago, have been booted out under controversial circumstances ahead of the party’s elective congress scheduled for early next month.

Analysts told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the factional and succession wars had been ventilated by the surprise entry into formal politics by Mugabe’s wife, Grace, a few months ago — who has made it her mission to see Mujuru deposed, a stunt she says she also pulled a decade ago when Mnangagagwa was similarly slapped down.

This is despite the fact that Mugabe still leaves Mujuru as the acting president — the very person allegedly at the heart of plots to oust and assassinate the nonagenarian — every time he goes on his numerous external trips.

It is this confusing and contradictory behaviour that is making analysts to conclude that the 90-year-old is “a keen student of Machiavellian politics” whose philosophy of “maintaining power by any means necessary and at all costs” has now become legendary.

University of Kent law lecturer, Alex Magaisa, said there were a lot of things happening around Mugabe and in Zanu PF that did not make any sense.

“There are too many contradictions, but the one explanation for this is simply that Mugabe is a master of divide and rule politics.

“He thrives on the vulnerability of those around him. The more they feel unsure and insecure, the better for him,” Magaisa said.

He added that this was the reason why Mugabe was not protecting Mujuru from the scathing attacks she was receiving from his wife and Mnangagwa’s supporters, was at the same time not sacking her.

“If Mujuru was such a threat, why would he leave her in charge? But he knows that she is vulnerable and grateful that she has not been sacked so he retains command over her.

“At the same time, those who are pushing for her removal may gain comfort from the fact that he has not admonished them, but they are equally confused because he is not acting on their propaganda and is even leaving her in charge while he is away,” Magaisa said.

“Thus Mugabe has all parties where he wants them to be, fighting each other and vulnerable. He remains unscathed, looking powerful and untouchable.

“I cannot think of any other explanation apart from the divide and rule strategy that Mugabe is so good at,” he added.

Another analyst, Dewa Mavhinga, said part of the confusion arose from the dual character of Mujuru’s role as both Zanu PF and government vice president.

He said although some in the party were unhappy with her, this did not affect her government role, where the law demanded that she be accorded her place and be allowed to act as president when Mugabe was absent.

“Unless and until constitutional procedures to remove her are followed, she remains the country’s VP, even if she loses her post in Zanu PF.

“This is similar to the Malawi situation where Joyce Banda was fired from her party but remained State VP, who constitutionally

took over when Bingu waMutharika died,” Mavhinga said.

But Maxwell Saungweme said Zimbabweans should not read too much into the fact that Mujuru was acting president when Mugabe was away, as this meant nothing as the party’s elective congress drew nearer.

“He is just afraid of creating a constitutional crisis before their congress given that there are so many power-hungry people in Zanu PF and government at present and so many centres of power.

“He is in a dilemma and is no longer totally in charge. There are so many moving pieces, so many centres of power. Grace’s recklessness is not helping her husband in any way,” he said.

Saungwene went on to say the confusion surrounding Mujuru, with Grace and others calling on her to resign yet Mugabe was leaving her as acting president, was clear testimony of the fact that both Zanu PF and Government were currently operating very shambolically.

“There is total chaos. Grace does not understand the provisions of the new Constitution that make it impossible for her husband to dismiss a sitting vice president at a rally. You can’t do that,”Saungweme said.

He added that the president had no power under the new Constitution to just dismiss a vice president at his whim.

“But again Zanu PF knows no constitution and no rules and Grace and others like her are   in their normal mode of thinking where they view Mugabe as more supreme that even the constitutions of both Zanu PF and Zimbabwe.

“Yes, in Zanu PF Mugabe is the constitution and what he says goes, but just firing a vice president of Zimbabwe will create a constitutional crisis which I think Mugabe and a few others in Zanu PF are trying to avoid,” he said.

Comments (18)

Mr Mugabe is himself the country's constitution. He is the Zanupf constitution. He is the law. He is the magistrate's court, the high court, supreme court, and the constitutional court. He is the final court of appeals. He is the judiciary. He is the army,the police, the intelligence. He is the executive and legislature. He is minister of all gvt ministries. He is deputy minister. He is vice president and also president. He is everything. Now he is UZ professor, he marks his wife's university assignments. He is an economist,teacher, lawyer, doctor, engineer. He is driver,passenger and conductor. He is judge, jury and executioner. Fortunately he isn't God, otherwise we would all be queuing outside state house begging for little oxygen to live and a drop of water to quench ourselves. The biblical story of Lazarus.

mosquito - 23 November 2014

Lord, today we pray, no, we cry out that in all Your mercy and grace You will raise up a man to lead Zimbabwe; a man after Your own heart. A man that will bring You honour and glory because Zimbabwe in its present state only brings You great dishounour. We dishonour the name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We call ourselves Christians, we go to Church, we read our bibles, we abuse Your holy name from many different forums and yet we fail to be an expression of Christ. We are a sinful nation and that is why Your righteous judgment falls on this nation. Lead us into repentance Lord. Break our hearts over the state of this nation today. Pour out Your Godly sorrow upon us so that we may truly repent and be restored; not for our sake but only for Your namesake: so that the glory of God may be seen in Zimbabwe

Maid Marion - 23 November 2014

Amen amen mwana wezimbabwe atambura mwari pindirai.,pindirai henyu mwari

dofo - 23 November 2014 summarised it..Mugabe is everything ...he controls everything and everyone...but as you rightly pointed out he is not he will join the queue for oxygen everybody else

xoxo - 23 November 2014

@mosquito - 23 November 2014:

selele - 23 November 2014

Legal interpretation is pretty simple, what is difficult is distancing our own sentiments/wishes from the analysis. Seemingly legal-literal persons say “These are matters for the National Constitution, not Zanu-PF Constitution; investigation committee; at the President's pleasure...this, here, that, there.....” It is lawful to remove a Vice President from office even WITHOUT stating any wrongs, and WITHOUT violating both Constitutions, National or Zanu PF. Others ask, why Mugabe has found it fit and proper to undress his VP in public. Good question, but it's clear the answer is there in the Press, ASSUMING of course that the allegations are true. Dr Mujuru ATTACKED Dr Mugabe, albeit she sincerely believed she was behind some protective screens to hide her face/identity. The latter responded in kind. Here the two pulled off their positional-gowns as well as Doctoral-gowns, and decided, as it seems, to fight it in the known feminine way (Woman-to-woman). President Mugabe, might have sides (blood is thicker than water we all know that), but he hasn't vilified Dr Mujuru. It would appear he concluded that the 'Devil has met with his/her equal nemesis.' And, with dignity, Mugabe can later ask Dr Mujuru to vacate Office without alleging any WRONG. That way he will spare her the ridicule/stigma apparent from being 'fired', and also protect his own dignity that he has nonetheless continued to respect her regardless of her alleged tantrums/shortcomings. Investigations for corruption and other 'crimes/offences' can be conducted later, and the outcome will not have any nexus with leaving the VP office. Dr Mujuru will NOT have any grounds to challenge the removal, whether or not she wins the BATTLE in the inquiry proceedings. Smart politics.

Chenjerai Makudo - 23 November 2014

There is “no divide and rule” with Mugabe because he is the one who chooses these party and government officials. He can get rid of any of them when he feels like at any time his only problem is that he does not trust anyone and hasn't got many other choices. The fights between his underlings have no effect on the way he conducts his business. Mugabe has not been, and never will be, under any threat from anyone in Zimbabwe but he is abnormally PARANOID - moves around with an army battalion. As long as he is President, on top of the wreckage, everything else is secondary. What is happening now are just subservient puppets jostling for positions UNDER Mugabe. The best way to describe Mugabe is that he is a control freak, an expansive sociopath or psychopath, full of himself. People like Grace, Patrick Joao (Zhuwawo) and other underlings are panicking and worried about their futures seeing that their patriarch is about to depart this planet. They are trying to secure their futures. The whole thing will soon blow over after congress where everyone will be put in their places. Mugabe's first and only love is the presidency - everything else is secondary to him. He is going to die in office. Even if he is on a wheel chair or totally blind or bed-ridden, he will still be president.

Musona - 23 November 2014

The post of Vice President is no constitutional as some are suggesting. The VP and other Ministers are elected to Parliament, only serving in Cabinet at the discretion of the President. In other words, the VP is just a senior Minister, who can be hired or fired as and when the President wishes. Don't confuse people.

grey mukondo - 23 November 2014

Zanu pf is and operates as a Mafia Clan. Mugabe is its Boss and zimbabwe and its people are its property. Which means all government entities are in his hands. Everyone in zanu pf works and spies for mugabe. A mafia boss cannot be replaced, he dies being the boss. When Mugabe dies his Clan will die a natural cause too. A mafia clan has one life span. The end is near. Grace as a person in position to see and be more informed about Boss' medical records, she has sprang into action trying to achieve the impossible and definately inevitable collapse of the clan. All this madness will stop immidiately thereafter.

X-MAN IV - 23 November 2014

Well what this daily is forgetting is that this is ZANU PF , politics as a party and of cause , there is got to be a leader in that party and not leaders, look what happened to chematama and team, they are now defunct because they all wanted to be leaders at the same time. Only that in ZANU PF, they have an intelligent leader who nipps the rebels in the bud unlike the dull chemaz, who will be busy chasing ladies only to realise that the rebels have taken control of almost everything at the last minute.

reason - 24 November 2014

@Reason, you can only spit what is in you, vernom, hauna nyaya shamwari. Your ZANOID boss is a Mafia Boss period. He is everything, thats why Zimbabwe is dying with him.

Dr Munhuwo - 24 November 2014

reason got it thanks to all progressive zimbabwean chisingaperi chinoshura in god we trust

mafia - 24 November 2014

Mr Mugabe is madman because he want to president every time his country

sharma - 24 November 2014

Reason is 100% right. All the analysts have got it wrong. They do not understand a phenomenon called ZANU PF and its leader, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

mageja siziba - 24 November 2014

Though it may be true to some extent that Mugabe uses the divide and rule tactic, it is the patronage system that has really worked for him. People will fall over each other just to show their total allegiance to the old man. How many Ministers, top government officials, churchmen, businesspeople and other patronage beneficiaries left their everyday chores and offices to tail behind Grace as she embarked on her around Zimbabwe tour- hundreds.It is from this bootlicking that a contest has emerged over who should be liked the most and therefore benefit more from all the corruption and greed they would have set their minds on. It was only last week or so we read about one government official who confessed that his wife has to be seen at all functions to show their itmost support for the first family.

Dr Know - 24 November 2014

Cde Mugabe knows very well that Zimbabweans are peace-loving people.he does not know how to express gratitude.It is common knowledge that he is no longer wanted in Presidency by the people.But to prove that the assassination plot is a fallacy Why is it that the commisioner general is just silent about it together with other security forces?If its the case Mai Mujuru has been the acting President for a long time when this old man travels.she could have successfully organized a pacific coup but she did not.Now who is also ungratefulfor the second time in a row is the same old man.He is now politically insolvent and is just desperate to cling to power at all costs irrespective of the fact that he is no longer wanted by anyone.even the zvipfukuto team they are just having him for a ride and would dump him as the time slips in.The only honourable thing and noble gesture the old man could do is to leave power.its never too late for good things.

carson Macate - 24 November 2014

The plot is the same. You want to kill Mugabe and oops you are gone. The nice thing is the whole thing is coming back to haunt them. I remember a video clip in Mt Darwin people being warned at attending MDC rallies. Remember Tsvangirayi at Mt Darwin, did they not laugh, it is now in their bedrooms rega uone ma naked pictures coming out. Now Dongo can smile and feel exonerated because so many men in zanupf are actually women in men's robes. Jongwe ne mhambo dzaro.

maita - 24 November 2014

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