HARARE - Serious anxiety has gripped Zanu PF supporters of embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru as her continued tenure as President Robert Mugabe’s number two appears increasingly fragile, amid fears of a heightened clampdown on all her perceived allies.
The apprehension engulfing the Mujuru camp was given impetus by ominous State media reports yesterday exhorting law enforcement agencies to arrest the beleaguered VP’s allies who had been accused of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe.
A politburo member sympathetic to the under-fire VP told the Daily News on Sunday last night that most supporters of the 59-year-old widow were now living in ?palpable” fear, amid the ongoing brutal purges of party officials perceived to be close to her, as well as the ?chilling” arrest of deposed war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda on Friday.
?It’s terrible out there. The unconstitutional and perplexing purges of party officials all round has sent a message to all that you sympathise with Mai Mujuru at your own peril.
?The chilling arrest of Jabulani (Sibanda) has heightened people’s anxiety that a serious clampdown is underway to pummel all her supporters through both fair and foul means.
?What is even more frightening is that no one knows where all this will end and who is safe or not,” the senior official said.
A central committee member said he could not wait for the party’s congress next week to ?come and go”.
?I for one just want this rubbish congress to come and go as it is the cause of all this senseless infighting which is happening just a year after we destroyed (Morgan) Tsvangirai and the MDC.
?I’ve no doubt that when the power mongers have got what they want (unfettered power) at congress, relative peace will return to the party,” he said.
Sibanda was arrested in Bulawayo on Friday afternoon, amid authoritative State media reports that he is going to be charged Under Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which criminalises the undermining of Mugabe’s authority.
?Sibanda’s arrest prompted calls for the arrest of Zanu PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa and ousted Manicaland provincial chairman John Mvundura in whose company Jabulani Sibanda accused the president of plotting a ‘bedroom coup’ and threatened to march to State House to confront him,” chortled the State-controlled Herald and Chronicle newspapers in synchronised front page stories yesterday.
Amid all this, speculation reached fever pitch in the past few days, particularly after Mujuru missed last Wednesday’s politburo meeting, that she was now so despondent that she was allegedly close to quitting her government post.
There was also mounting speculation that Mugabe was set to effect a major shake-up of his administration — at all levels of government, including the composition of the Cabinet, civil service and the security sectors, soon after Zanu PF’s “damp squib elective” congress scheduled for this week, in an endeavour to get rid of all perceived Mujuru supporters.
A Harare daily owned by a Cabinet minister who is believed to belong to the anti-Mujuru camp reported yesterday that ?among those expected to be kicked out of government would be permanent secretaries and security chiefs, with some accused of leaking sensitive issues to aid Mujuru’s ascendency to power”.
The paper added that the far-reaching purges would also affect the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba said Mujuru was still the VP.
“Are they (those who are saying Mujuru has resigned) the ones who appoint? No, isn’t it where the story ends,” said Charamba.
Some analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday also said Mujuru might be retained in her government post by Mugabe on the basis that she was now weak and therefore no longer a threat to powerful party interests.
Alex Magaisa, the former advisor to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said it was difficult to second-guess Mugabe.
“Mugabe is an unpredictable fellow. He might spring a surprise and retain her because now she is no longer a threat,” he said.
Simba Makoni, a former politburo member, said on Friday that the nasty fights in Zanu PF were difficult to predict because they were not only unprecedented but were also being executed by new players.
“The latest developments are a new narrative that is difficult to unpack. While there were moves to change the leadership before, what makes the current struggle unique is that it comprises new players who seem to have adopted new methods of plotting for power,” Makoni said.
“We can only understand the developments in retrospect as the fights are full of surprises.
My guess is just as good as yours even though I have been in the party at senior level could do with the fact that some people have seen that the sun is setting and they should quickly make hay while it shines,” said Makoni.