HARARE - As Zimbabwe continues on its precipitous economic and political decline of the past 16 years that is widely blamed on President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s misrule, there are renewed fears that the debilitating violence that rocked the country when the ruling party lost the 2008 elections could flare up again.
At least 300 MDC supporters are estimated to have been murdered in cold blood after Mugabe suffered a stunning loss to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in that year’s presidential ballot — which the nonagenarian has since openly acknowledged on a number of occasions that he lost hands-down.
Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday said they were “very worried” by the fact that the former liberation movement was teetering on the brink of total collapse due to its escalating factional and succession wars, a situation they said was destabilising the country.
“I’m very worried by what’s happening in the party and the levels of animosity that now obtain between comrades. Our leaders are engaged in a fight for power to the death, and now war veterans, who used to be the voices of reason, have now also joined the fray.
“Now factor into the equation the fact that opposition forces appear to be strengthening and you have a recipe for disaster as our democratic credentials as a country are at best suspect. If we are not all careful, the atmosphere is ripe for us to become another Congo,” a senior party official said.
The Zanu PF bigwig’s fears come as analysts have warned that Zimbabwe is now almost on its knees economically — amid shocking unemployment levels, looming mass starvation, escalating company closures and job redundancies, as well as a sharp deterioration in social and health services.
At the same time, Zanu PF — still reeling from the damaging breakaway from within its ranks of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters, is facing yet another bitter split, this time involving party members loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Party insiders who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News, last week said the latest acrimonious “divorce proceedings” involving Team Lacoste — which they said were already “well under way” and evident in Midlands and Mashonaland East — would deliver a knock out punch to the fast-unraveling party.
“The die is cast and there is no going back. We are going it alone now. When you see State media dredging up malicious stories about Ngwena (Mnangagwa) from 33 years ago (regarding the VP’s alleged inflammatory comments on Gukurahundi), then you know this has to happen,” a senior party official linked to the VP said.
Another Zanu PF bigwig said never in his “wildest imagination” had he ever contemplated that the former liberation movement would suffer more splits than the MDC.
“I’m embarrassed that after Zanu PF Gamatox (Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First), we are now going to have Zanu PF Lacoste, all within the space of a few months. Before that, we had the likes of (Edgar) Tekere, Margaret (Dongo) and Simba (Makoni) splitting from the party as you know.
“At least in the case of the MDC when they were splitting this was largely due to the work of our boys (infiltration and destabilisation by spies). What excuses do we have for this anarchy?
“And the chaos is worsening, what with some war veterans passing votes of no confidence against national leaders such as VP (Phelekezela) Mphoko and Tyson (Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere),” a politburo member who has always claimed that he is “non-aligned” said ruefully.
Amid all this, Tsvangirai has hinted that he will soon lead mass protests aimed at forcing Mugabe to fix the country’s dying economy and to implement much-needed electoral reforms ahead of Zimbabbwe’s keenly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Addressing a rally in Marondera last weekend, the MDC leader said Zimbabwe had reached a critical stage that made it imperative for the people to demand free and fair elections.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said anger against Mugabe’s misrule was growing each day, “as everyone is suffering”.
MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu, also told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the next few weeks would be a very busy period for the party, adding “those who thought we were not doing anything will realise that we are not sleeping on duty”.
“April 7 will be a game changer. Right now we have tasked each and every member of the party, starting with the top leadership, including the president himself and his standing committee, that they must have recruited not less than 15 new members by then.
“We are using this holiday to strengthen our structures, filling gaps where they exist and consolidating our support base in the process as we are targeting 4 million members in our data base by 2018.
“We will not be complacent this time around and we have dedicated 2016 to ensuring that Mugabe bows to the majority of the things we are demanding ahead of elections in 2018,” Gutu said.
Former Finance minister Tenda Biti said his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) planned to apply more legal pressure on Mugabe and Zanu PF to amend the country’s Electoral Act.
“We are collectively running out of time and next week you are going to see action on the part of PDP. You are going to see litigation against government as we push for major changes in the country’s electoral laws.
“We are also going to be pressuring the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to ensure the speedy implementation of the biometric voters’ roll,” Biti said, adding that while time was not on the side of opposition parties, there had been some progress in negotiations for a grand coalition against Zanu PF.
“While I am not authorised to speak for the coalition, I can tell you that there is a lot that is happening underground in terms of the grand coalition.
“On the side of PDP, we are almost finalising mechanisms for a National Transitional Authority that should ensure a soft landing for the country, seeing that we may not be able to reach 2018 with Zanu PF imploding,” the former Harare East MP said.
Analysts have also pointed out that with a mere two years to go to Zimbabwe’s next national elections, Zanu PF’s pie-in-the-sky 2013 election promises were coming back to bite the governing party, with the economy continuing to tank and bleed tens of thousands of badly-needed jobs every new year.
In addition, there have also been growing concerns that Zimbabwe has once again hit the depths of humanitarian and economic despair that were last experienced in 2008, when the country’s seemingly unending political crisis precipitated an economic meltdown of monumental proportions — which culminated in the death of the Zimbabwe dollar and mass emigrations out of the country.
Economic and political experts said the recent human trafficking scam associated with some Kuwait nationals also showed that Zimbabweans had now become so desperate that they were willing to do anything, no matter how dangerous, to survive.
Only a fortnight ago, the Harare Magistrates’ Courts charged a Kuwait embassy official with human trafficking — after about 200 local women had allegedly been lured to the Gulf region country where they were turned into slaves.
And instead of attending to the country’s worsening political and soci-economic crises, Zanu PF bigwigs are embroiled in their party’s mindless bloodletting, in which a faction loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is engaged in deadly factional and succession wars with a group opposed to him succeeding Mugabe.