HARARE – Despite the widespread belief among many Zimbabweans that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a powerful man in the warring post-congress Zanu PF, he is, like other party bigwigs, surviving solely on President Robert Mugabe’s benevolence, a local think-tank has said.
Commenting on the goings-on in the ruling party and the country in a recent report, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) said Mnangagwa would also depend on the benevolence and goodwill of Mugabe if he was to ever become Zimbabwe’s next leader.
According to the report titled “Complexities around Zanu PF succession: State and party constitutions”, Mnangagwa’s ruling party foes, the ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40), also controlled‘VP surviving on Mugabe’s charity’ critical party structures — which worked against his interests.
Thus, for Mnangagwa to power ahead and overcome these constraints, he needed the intervention of Mugabe, who was the ultimate puppet master.
“Despite the possibilities, the vice president’s mere occupancy of the position does not mean that he will be automatically nominated in the event of Mugabe’s death, resignation or incapacitation.
“As a presumptive heir, instead, this will depend on Mnangagwa’s successful exercise of his position as state vice president, and those positions as the second in command of Zanu PF, to consolidate power, and not his colleagues’ acknowledgement that they must obey him because he occupies these offices.
“Thus, Mnangagwa needs to use these positions to institutionalise his authority in order to entrench himself within the party system if he is to stand a better chance at winning the party’s nomination,” ZDI added.
The report also points out that due to the concentration of power in both the party and the country in Mugabe’s hands, Mnangagwa had a significant disadvantage as he did not possess the necessary powers that he needed to consolidate his authority over the party in preparation for the departure from office by Mugabe.
“As head of the party, president Mugabe has immense powers that allow him control of the main organisational and appointment machinery of the party.
“This is at the expense of other party institutions such as the central committee, the politburo and the office of his deputy, Mnangagwa,” ZDI said.
The Pedzisai Ruhanya-led think-tank also believed that analysts had prematurely concluded that as vice president Mnangagwa was better positioned to take over the party leadership than other party bigwigs, which was not entirely true.
“Unlike the president of the party, Mnangagwa cannot bump enemies from influential positions within the party, and replace them with allies.
“For example, he cannot re-assign his opponent Saviour Kasukuwere from the influential position of political commissar, nor can he have Jonathan Moyo booted out of the politburo, thereby weakening the powerbase of the G40,” it added.