Mugabe's Zanu PF panics as 2018 comes

HARARE - The warring ruling Zanu PF has recorded a precipitous decline in its registered membership numbers, causing widespread alarm within the former liberation movement ahead of the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday confirmed that party bigwigs, including President Robert Mugabe, were worried sick about the indicative loss of grassroots support — after it emerged at last week’s annual conference in Masvingo that membership subscriptions for the former liberation movement had plummeted by a whopping 73 percent over the past year.

“The low membership subscriptions, which have never been this bad, are indeed a very big worry, particularly with massive elections coming in less than two year’s time. We have to work harder to turn this untenable situation around,” one party bigwig said.

Another official pointed to the ruling party’s seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and succession wars, as well the country’s dying economy and Zanu PF’s failure to deliver on any of its 2013 election promises, as among the likely contributing factors to the falling membership figures.

In the party’s deadly succession wars, Team Lacoste — which is rallying behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations — is locked in a battle to the death with a group of Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40), who are rabidly opposed to the Midlands godfather succeeding Mugabe.

And as a direct result of the bloodletting, the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans has worsened with each passing year — with rural dwellers, who form the bedrock of the ruling party’s remaining support base, now also deserting it and not bothering to renew their membership cards.

A Zanu PF central committee report which was presented at the Masvingo gathering graphically described the drop in support as “disturbing”.

And in his foreword in the central committee report, Mugabe also readily admitted that his party, which has won almost all the by-elections which have been held since 2013, should not have a “false sense of hope” because of the “disappointing” membership subscriptions.

“Data on the distribution of membership data forms is disappointing for all provinces and districts except Matabeleland South. We need to interrogate this data and make appropriate decisions,” Mugabe said.

Other well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News yesterday confirmed that the party was cranking up its mobilisation of both resources and its support base ahead of 2018 — with its commissariat department recently receiving more than 300 vehicles.

In the meantime, and after months of the Zanu PF faction rallying behind Mnangagwa being on the front foot in the ruling party’s seemingly intractable ructions, the tide may again be turning in the VP’s opponents’ favour.

At the same time, analysts told the Daily News earlier this week that the proposal by the Zanu PF youth league to have Mugabe declared life president could in fact be “the coming to fruition” of a long-held ambition by the increasingly frail nonagenarian to die in office.

In a surprising move at the Masvingo meeting, the party’s women’s league, which is led by powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe, pulled a stunner when it revived its 2015 resolution to have the former liberation movement’s constitution amended to reinstate the women’s quota clause.

This is despite the fact that in the run-up to the conference, the women’s league had seemingly made a dramatic U-turn about this demand, saying repeatedly that they were no longer pursuing the resolution which was supposed to have been implemented by the end of this year.

According to the women’s league resolution, the party is supposed to drop either Mnangagwa or Mugabe’s other deputy, Phelekezela Mphoko, to make way for a woman — a call which has put Mnangagwa and Team Lacoste on the edge as their foes, G40 faction slowly regroups after months of being on the back foot.

Speaking in a recent interview with the Daily News, the influential women’s league’s forthright national secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka, said they expected Mugabe to ensure that the party adopted their resolutions.

“Chatiri kunyanya kutarisa ndechekuti chef (Mugabe) vachitipa chinhu chedu sezvo takawirirana kuti vanotipa muna 2016 muno … ndopatinowana mukadzi mupresidium (We expect the president to appoint a woman VP this year as per our resolution).

“We do not expect to encounter any obstacles now because this came from all the 10 provinces and was backed by everyone including men,” Mahoka said then.

Compounding Mnangagwa’s and Team Lacoste’s woes is the fact that there are also growing calls for the party to discard the idea of vice presidents being appointed by Mugabe, so that they go through an elective process.

“Guided by the president’s call that all party leaders must come from the people, the committee recommends that all leadership positions in the party from cell up to the presidium, be subjected to a popular election process,” party national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere said as he read resolutions by the commissariat department at the end of the Masvingo meeting.

This was supported by youth league leader Kudzanai Chipanga, who went on to declare that Mugabe should become a life president.

This was followed by the women’s thematic committee report in which league deputy secretary, Eunice Sandi Moyo, also strongly called for the 2015 resolution to reinstate the women’s quota in the Zanu PF presidium to be implemented without delay.

“We are concerned with the lack of implementation … we made it clear that we wanted the constitution to be changed to allow an earlier provision that one of the two VPs should be a woman,” Eunice Sandi Moyo asserted.

But analysts said the proposal to have Mugabe declared life president signalled “the coming to fruition” of a long-held ambition by the nonagenarian to die in office.

Mugabe, 93 in February, is the only leader that Zimbabweans have ever known since the country gained its independence from Britain in April 1980.

Comments (6)

A drop in the sale of membership cards is not neccessarily a drop in support for the ruling party. A lot of that party's supporters are surviving on drought relief, buying a membership card is a luxury. There are more scientific ways of gauging the level of support for parties. In any case a drop in support for zanupf doesnot translate to an upsurge in support for their competitors.

Msana we ngombe - 21 December 2016

I totally agree with you. I think this is a really poor way of looking at things. Opinion polls may actually give a better indication.

ViDon - 21 December 2016

I disagree with the Msana 's 2 comments where you also pretented to be another Vidon. First of all you should acknowledge that Zanu Pf does not need grassroots or any supporters at all to win an election. Whether everyone votes against them they will still claim victory. Zanu PF has never enjoyed support of Zimbabweans. Thus why they thrive on intimidating opposition supporters, threatening hungry villagers with unspecified action if they dont vote for them, refusing with the voter's roll, using state apparatus such as police, army and CIO, frog marching people to its functions to pretent to have Zimbabweans support. If Zanu Pf worries about their support then they would engage Zimbabweans instead of being like terrorists to ordinary defenceless Zimbabweans whenever there are elections.

DZIMBABWE - 22 December 2016

AND for you Vidon aka Musana to suggest opinion polls in Zimbabwe it shows that you are out of touch with reality. With the level of fear Zanu Pf has instil in Zimbabweans , do nt dare pretend to think that any Zimbabwean would risk his life saying he supports an opposition figure.

DZIMBABWE - 22 December 2016

Dzimbabwe you cant have said iot any better. Even the referredum which they agreed to have lost, they cheated. Plenty youths testified that they did not sleep putting Xs in favour of the Zanu PF stance but it did not work. 2013 Mugabe was beaten clean beyond reasonable doubt, and every Zanu PF bid wig or small body knows that. But his stubbornness and tactics made him refuse to give aware power. If he is alife and fit in 2018, the opposition coalition no matter how strong WILL NEVER WIN A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION AGAINST BOB. That I bet. Not the Zanu PF I know.

Dhozi - 22 December 2016

On a serious note: Zanu PF people you preach about child abuse, gender violence, etc and yet you do not want to open your eyes to your own SERIOUS GRANDPA ABUSE OF SEKURU ROBERT MUGABE. USENGU KHULU BANTU. At times coordination is lost, ko kuzoti muna 2018. This is abuse at its best. You need to be arrested. Chipanga first.

Dhozi - 22 December 2016

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