HARARE - With Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars reaching what insiders say is “a tipping point”, and Zimbabwe continuing on its precipitous economic decline that is blamed on the ruling party, all eyes are on President Robert Mugabe (pictured) who has just returned from his annual holiday in the Far East.
The increasingly-frail nonagenarian, who turns 92 next month, made a low key return to the country on Friday evening — unusually dispensing with his normal practice of addressing bussed in Zanu PF supporters at Harare International Airport, and not speaking to State media.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday reiterated the sentiments of the past few months that only the nonagenarian could stop the mindless bloodletting devouring the former liberation movement, which is having a devastating effect on the country’s economy and its long-suffering citizens.
“I think you guys in the media do not fully appreciate the fact that the president is at the heart of everything that happens in this country.
“While we can all debate whether this is good for the country or not, the reality at the moment is that there is no solution that can be found for anything without his active participation, including the party’s (Zanu PF’s) regrettable succession fights,” a central committee member said.
The official’s sentiments tie in with what a politburo member told the Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News, last week — who implored Mugabe to act on Zanu PF’s escalating wars urgently and decisively, as he felt that the ructions had reached a tipping point.
“We have reached a tipping point beyond which all of us must forget about this party which we all claim to love so much. If there is any advice I can give the president, in fact this is a plea, it would be to act decisively now, before it is too late,” the dispirited bigwig said.
These sentiments of despair come in a month that has witnessed tumultuous developments — including yet another reported break-in at the offices of embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and yet another Cabinet minister receiving a bullet parcel in his hotel room, as Zanu PF’s savage infighting gets uglier by the day.
The bullet that Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane received a week ago, followed an order by the ruling party to its Midlands structure to conduct hearings against provincial bigwigs who stand accused of threatening him and two other ministers, as Mnangagwa’s home province is consumed by the party’s deadly factional and succession wars.
Unconfirmed media reports claimed at the weekend that police had dropped their investigations into the matter — a move that is set to stir a hornet’s nest if true, given the cloud of suspicion and deadly conspiracies enveloping the ruling party.
Another senior Zanu PF official told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that until Mugabe’s successor was in place, the ruling party’s wars could “only escalate”.
“There is no way of stopping the fighting until there is a winner, in this case a clear successor to the president. As it is, the two main factions slugging it out will be pushing the president to implement the demand for a women’s quota system in the party to achieve their factional interests. It’s war and one side has to win,” he said.
To complicate Mugabe’s task, analysts have warned that Zimbabwe is teetering on the brink of total collapse, a situation they say is spawning worsening citizen despondency which could lead to growing opposition to Zanu PF’s 36 years in power.
Political and economic observers have also warned that 2016 will in all likelihood be harder all-round compared to 2015, which was itself described as an “annus horribilis” (horrible year).
They say further that there is “little hope” that life will get better for most Zimbabweans, and that if anything, the country’s ailing economy will get sicker, while the deadly factional and succession wars ravaging the post-congress Zanu PF are set to worsen.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive Christopher Mugaga said with all the country’s key economic indicators — including inflation, unemployment and gross domestic product growth — heading in the wrong direction, the only way out was for the government to “quell the crisis of mistrust within the country”.
“Politicians mistrust each other more than ever before while they are the custodians of policy proposals. This therefore leaves a void when it comes to thoroughness in implementation.
“It is also vital to find feasible strategies to look for foreign direct investment without necessarily relying on the carrot approach of relying on incentivising potential investors.
“Let the policy environment be transparent and consistent while relegating populist policy measures to the dustbin. For example, what is the rationale of even considering giving bonuses both to the civil service and the private sectors when all the numbers are pointing southwards?” Mugaga said.
In the meantime, South Africa-based political commentators say with Zimbabwe continuing to disappoint politically and economically, former Vice President Joice Mujuru could be the tonic that the country needs to start its recovery.
Speaking in a radio interview with African Dialogue, one of the analysts, Associate Professor in the Department of Development Studies at the University of South Africa, Sabelo Ndlovu, said this was more so given the failure of the opposition thus far to dislodge Zanu PF from power.
“This has led people to look for salvation elsewhere and Mujuru as a former insider has the potential to bring something which will dislodge Zanu PF unlike the MDCs which have failed to do this since 2000,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by senior project leader for southern Africa for Justice and Reconciliation in Africa, Webster Zamabara.
“The other bigger challenge is the issues of personal egos and personalities permeating in opposition politics such that there is no coalescing around coherent issues and perhaps that is one issue that will be atoned for by the entrance of Joice Mujuru’s People First,” he said.
Since launching her manifesto last year, which she has followed up strongly by setting up provincial structures nationwide, the former vice president has gained a lot of followers, harvesting many officials from the warring Zanu PF.