HARARE - Zanu PF insiders and observers alike agree that the party has now reached “a point of no return” as its deadly factional and succession wars get uglier by the day — with a senior party official graphically likening the former liberation movement to Humpty Dumpty, the popular nursery rhyme character.
All the insiders and analysts who were canvassed by the Daily News yesterday also agreed that Zanu PF’s worsening infighting had “ominous consequences” for both President Robert Mugabe and the ruling party ahead of the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
“For a long time, people spoke about the danger of the party reaching a tipping point, a point that I think we have long gone past. In fact, my friends and I now joke and liken the party to Humpty Dumpty because it is so broken that no one can seemingly fix it,” a despondent Zanu PF politburo member said.
A central politburo member who two months ago told the Daily News’ sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday that Mugabe could stop the mindless bloodletting devouring the party if he chose to, said he had also since revised his thinking after realising that the infighting was now beyond the nonagenarian’s control.
“Yes, I remember telling you guys that the president was at the heart of everything that happens in this country, and that there could not be a solution that could be found for anything in the party and the country without his active participation, including the party’s regrettable succession fights.
“That was then when I, like many others in the party, felt that we were just at the tipping point where matters could be rescued.
“We have now gone past that and indeed have gone even past the point of no return that you say others are talking about,” the senior party official said.
All these sentiments come in a new year that has witnessed yet more tumultuous developments in Zanu PF — including more senior party officials, virtually all of them linked to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa being booted out of the former liberation movement.
Respected political analyst and University of Zimbabwe Political Science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said the party’s infighting had become a “lose-lose, high-stakes political game”.
Commenting on the goings-on in Zanu PF, including the recent Chinhoyi meeting by pro-Mnangagwa war veterans — who passed a vote of no confidence against Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and other senior officials such as Cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere, who are all seen as opposed to the Midlands godfather succeeding Mugabe — Masunungure also said Team Lacoste should not be underestimated.
“Team Lacoste still appears to represent the main movement as the anchor of Zanu PF are the war veterans. They are the chief mobilisers in the party,” he said, adding that the former freedom fighters commanded respect within the party due to their connection with the country’s security organs.
He said the war veterans knew how to mobilise the general populace, just as they did during the liberation war — which was a major advantage for their faction over their party foes.
“G40 (ambitious young party Turks opposed to Mnangagwa) may have the advantage of being supported by the president, but beyond that Team Lacoste seems to have most of the ground under their control at the moment. They hold the trump cards.
“But it is also true that Zanu PF politics have now reached a point of no return, where the infighting can only end after the resolution of the succession dispute.
“Team Lacoste knows if they lose, they lose absolutely everything, and G40 also knows that if they lose, they lose absolutely. It’s not a win-win situation. Any high-stakes political game tends to be antagonistic,” Masunungure said.
He said the political antagonism devouring the party could only grow bigger if the succession war remained unresolved.
“We are not going to see an end to this war anytime soon,” he said, adding that Mugabe’s planned meeting with the war veterans during the first week of April would also not put an end to the factional and succession fights.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, described the climate within Zanu PF as “discordant and implosive”.
“It’s too hot there for a 92-year-old to handle … Team Lacoste has a reasonable following within the party and sections of the war veterans, just like (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru still commands support from the same pools,” he said.
Saungweme also added that war veterans were also increasingly sending a powerful signal to Mugabe that they were not happy with how the First Family was going about its work and politics.
“Mugabe should smell the coffee ... Zimbabwe has no future with Zanu PF in power, and the country continues to have a chaotic government and poorly performing economy due to the failure of this party to pull things together,” he said.
Political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said the events unfolding in Zanu PF showed clearly that the party was a “boiling pot”.
“Things are falling apart and the centre can no longer hold. What it means is that anything, including a vote of no confidence on Mugabe, or coup, is now possible.
“It also shows that Team Lacoste is not a push-over. It is still there and they have strategists who are ready to bide their time, who do not advertise their existence or even celebrate their seeming victories as G40 does,” Hamauswa said.
He added that the war veterans, who were largely part of Team Lacoste, were all over in key government sectors, including the army, police and the Central Intelligence Organisation.
“They have the capacity to mobilise people against Zanu PF … sooner or later they will become active opponents of the regime and if their peaceful strategies fail, they can join forces with the opposition, students and the workers’ movements.
“If any revolution is going to happen, it is going to involve or be led by the war veterans,” he said.