HARARE - Zanu PF is hanging on the edge of the precipice, with more of its bigwigs and supporters set to defect to the opposition ranks ahead of the country's eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, a respected local think-tank says.
In a report that was exclusively availed to the Daily News yesterday ahead of its formal release today, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) said Zanu PF’s worsening infighting had created serious fissures that were becoming impossible to plug.
“The occurrences of internal fragmentation, elite discohesion and defections in Zanu PF may consistently increase over the next two years as Zimbabwe treads towards the 2018 elections,” the report — titled Zimbabwe Political Economy Review: Elite Discohesion and Authoritarian Erosion: Zanu PF on the Precipice — said.
The report also observed that the centre in the governing party can no longer hold, adding that the “lurid internal dissenting voices, a factionalised security establishment and a factionalised State bureaucracy” meant that Zanu PF was possibly now at its weakest point ever.
“The more the internal party fragmentation, the higher the costs of repression and the higher the chances of defection (exit), and the more probable the possibility of defeat of the hegemonic political party,” ZDI said.
It also noted that amid this helter-skelter, “Zanu PF and Mugabe’s power is slowly being eroded and waning like the morning dew”.
“The party’s dominance has been necessitated by party-State conflation, control of the economy, use of State resources and assimilation of the masses into the party-regime through patronage and clientelism, creation of a politico-military nexus and overt and covert electoral manipulation strategies meant to disenfranchise opposition political parties.
“The weakening and internal contestations of … Mugabe’s princely Machiavellian politics caused by his old age has brought a lot of disparate and contradictory internal forces all vying to capture the throne.
“This far, the warring parties appear determined to decimate each other, leaving the political party more severely weakened than at any point since its formation in 1963.
“This historic moment, marked by ... a monumental informalisation of the economy affecting the livelihoods of millions of Zimbabweans, internal contradictions and discohesion are the greatest threat to the possible demise of Zanu PF because of the magnitude of the structural and institutional weakening of the hegemonic edifice,” ZDI said.
“State security apparatus have always been the bulwark of Zanu PF support due to the politico-military nexus.
The coercive apparatus, including the war veterans, have been at the forefront of aggressively campaigning for Zanu PF rule,” ZDI added.
The report also noted that although former Zanu PF members like Edgar Tekere and Margret Dongo had tried to take the party head-on, their efforts had failed because the ruling party was relatively united at the time, and the former liberation movement had a capacity to thwart internal dissent then.
The think-tank said the situation was now dramatically different, even when compared to 2008 — as the issue of succession and factions had become more pronounced.
“The lack of succession framework has been Zanu PF’s Achilles heel…,” the report said, adding that the party’s dirty linen was now being washed in public, making it “fashionable” to contravene Mugabe and his decisions, as more cadres defected to former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First party.