HARARE - Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding President Robert Mugabe have hit turbulent times after the latter mauled his alleged key henchman — ousted war veterans’ leader Christopher Mutsvangwa while the VP sat on the president’s side stone-faced.
Mnangagwa is battling it out with the party’s clique known as the Generation 40 (G40) in a merciless battle to succeed Mugabe, who turns 92 today.
On its side, the G40 reportedly boasts of First Lady Grace Mugabe, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Indigenisation minister, who is also Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao.
The group has been flexing its muscles, proving more strategic and powerful than Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste.
UK-based political analyst Alex Magaisa told the Daily News on Sunday that the events that happened last week showed that Team Lacoste is under serious pressure.
“The war vets chose a side but they have been shown to be on the wrong side… they are deluded because they think Mugabe is with them when he is on his wife’s side,” Magaisa said.
This followed the unprecedented move by anti-riot police last Thursday, who mercilessly clamped down on a group of war veterans loyal to Mnangagwa.
The war veterans were tear-gassed and water sprayed, forcing them to disperse from the City Sports Centre, where they had gathered reportedly intending to march to the party’s headquarters.
In light of this scathing attack, Magaisa said Mnangagwa was leaving his supporters to be helplessly devoured by the “wolves” under his watch.
“Mnangagwa’s weakness so far has been his failure to defend himself or his allies in the face of assault by the other side. It has always been said he is powerful and strong but that might also have been a mythical figure created by the media but not consistent with reality.
“Maybe Mnangagwa’s power has been overestimated all along. It remains to be seen whether he will spring a defence or he will go the (former vice president Joice) Mujuru way, buried without a fight,” Magaisa said.
Over the past few weeks, Mnangagwa’s power base was shaken to the core, a factor that analyst Dewa Mavhinga said was based on Zanu PF’s investment on State power and the capacity to control security forces.
“Judging by how the police mercilessly crushed the planned war veterans rally in Harare, it looks like State machinery is not on Mnangagwa’s side,” Mavhinga said.
He said it was difficult for Mnangagwa to form a splinter group, because he had few sympathisers and was on the receiving end in the Zanu PF’s succession war.
“This may very well be the end of his political career because even when under attack as he is, he will not want to fight Mugabe directly, although it is clear that the G40 position that Grace Mugabe fronts must have Mugabe’s blessings,” he said.
However, another analyst, Maxwell Saungweme said Mnangagwa, to a certain extent still had influence and power within the party.
“The fact that the State had to unleash police on some old war vets shows that the Lacoste faction has steam and backing. If it was a useless and weak faction there will be no need to invoke the wroth of the police on the old liberation fighters,” he said.
He added that many people within the party paid patronage to Mugabe, while some were questioning his wife’s ability to lead.
“War vets have over the years been treated marginally by Zanu PF. They have been used as part of the infrastructure of violence…this is not the first time war vets have been ill-treated by the regime.
“Remember during Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Clean-up) in May 2005, most of the war vets lost houses they had built as they were members of the many housing cooperatives that had come up in the immediate aftermath of Hondo Yeminda (Land Reform Programme),” Saungweme said, adding that Mnangagwa was leading a splinter group.