HARARE - WITH the Zanu PF faction behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa feeling the heat of the ruling party’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, the camp is now reaching out to followers of former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that so “squeezed” was the Mnangagwa faction feeling at the moment, that it was desperately trying to lure back into the ruling party some liberation struggle stalwarts who had been purged from President Robert Mugabe’s party on allegations of working with Mujuru.
“The wheel is turning. Who would have anticipated that Team Lacoste would one day wish that Gamatox was still within the family fold (Zanu PF). But that is precisely what is happening now as they are desperate to augment their forces,” a party bigwig said.
The Daily News was also separately told authoritatively that among the resolutions that were made at the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association’s (ZNLWVA’s) meeting that was controversially held at the Presidential Guard military barracks in Harare’s Dzivaresekwa high density suburb last week was a decision to approach all war veterans who are now working with other political movements such as People First.
ZNLWVA secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda later confirmed this to the country’s leading daily newspaper — which has consistently and accurately written about Zanu PF’s ugly goings-on over the past five years.
“We resolved to follow up on war veterans who left Zanu PF to join other parties for various reasons, especially those who have gone to People First. We want to reorganise ourselves under the leadership of President Mugabe,” Matemadanda said.
Apart from resolving to bring back those who were expelled from Zanu PF on yet-to-be proven charges of plotting to overthrow and assassinate Mugabe, the war veterans apparently also reiterated their plans to block Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo from attending forthcoming politburo meetings.
While Matemadanda was reluctant to give the names of the war veterans that the pro-Mnangagwa ZNLWVA were hoping to bring back within its fold, there is apparently a growing belief within both camps of the Zanu PF war that the former VP and her allies are “better devils” than their present party opponents.
But former ZNLWVA leader, Jabulani Sibanda, who was expelled from Zanu PF after he threatened to march to State House after rejecting what he called was a bedroom coup at State House, is sceptical about the overtures that are being made.
“What they say is not what they are doing. I think they should first do something before we respond to them,” Sibanda said.
All this is happening as insiders say Mugabe is in a pickle over how to handle and end the ruling party’s internal wars, pointing to his “tepid” statement when he returned from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last weekend where he handed over the chairmanship of the African Union.
Well-placed ruling party sources told the Daily News that Mugabe was caught “between a rock and a hard place” as both of the two main factions brawling for supremacy in the former liberation movement boasted of having some of his most trusted lieutenants within their ranks.
“I don’t envy his position at all as he is being asked to choose between a faction linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he has known for five decades, and the other which appears to enjoy the backing of Dr Amai (his wife Grace) and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
“Clearly, therefore, Gushungo is caught between a rock and a hard place and hence his unusually tepid speech on the worsening fights in the party when he returned from Addis Ababa. I suspect that things will get worse before they get better,” a politburo member said resignedly.
Speaking at Harare International Airport on his return home, Mugabe appeared to tread a careful, middle road as he lashed the escalating factionalism that is devouring his party.
“We need unity in the country, province by province. Not to have a province which says we stand for this and our leaders are so and so.
“There are no other leaders other than the ones we were given by the central committee.
“Leaders are chosen at the congress, that is where we drop those we do not need,” the increasingly-frail nonagenarian said.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News said Mugabe, who turns 92 in three weeks’ time, was in a quandary about the infighting and had chosen to “sit on the fence” as his strategy to save his party from imploding completely.
Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said if the Zanu PF leader got tempted to take sides in the party’s brutal wars, this would expedite its implosion.
“If he has a preference, he is keeping it in his heart. The moment he pronounces a successor, as some are urging him to do, that would be the last nail in the party’s coffin as this will not unify the party but in fact deepen the succession wars,” he said.
But Afghanistan-based analyst Maxwell Saungweme said it would be difficult for Mugabe not to side with his wife’s faction given what had happened over the past 18 months.
“He obviously backs his wife’s faction but at the same time he can’t also fire all his key lieutenants such as (his spokesperson George) Charamba and Lacoste (Mnangagwa). He is in a big fix.
“But I think he deserves what he is facing as this is a direct result of him overstaying in power and not having a succession plan.
“It’s sad for Zimbabwe that we subject our elders to that torture by allowing them to overstay in power. Great grandpas like him should be resting and sharing ngano (folktales) with their grandchildren,” Saungweme added.
At the same time, analysts say it is clear that the centre can no longer hold in the ruling party as Zimbabwe teeters on the verge of total collapse, amid fears that the country could soon plunge into unprecedented chaos.
The analysts told the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday at the weekend that the free-for-all rumpus devouring Zanu PF —widely seen as the worst ever to hit the party since it came to power 36 years ago — also showed that both Zanu PF and the country were on “auto-pilot” in Mugabe’s dotage.