After long years of trying, Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to become Zanu (PF)’s senior deputy secretary and, according to party tradition, President Robert Mugabe’s national vice president. That will place him in good stead to take over from Mugabe. I am convinced we are trotting in that direction and we better start psyching ourselves to be ruled by that man soon.
Even though he clearly lacks grassroots appeal and is hardly convincing as a national leader, he is a shrewd tactician who has taken immense advantage of the death of Solomon Mujuru to turn the tables dramatically on the late general’s wife. Mnangagwa, clearly with much help from the likes of Jonathan Moyo, has managed to pull Grace Mugabe into his plan. This has helped him gain greater access to the president. Mnangagwa has actually shoved Mugabe from the cockpit even though the Old Man thinks he is still captaining the plane.
The sequence of events in recent months is ample evidence to this. The Mnangagwa camp in Zanu (PF), taking advantage of its new found proximity to Mugabe – whose political senility is snowballing by the day – has fatally weakened the rival faction led by Joice Mujuru. allies are falling to the ground like gamatoxed weevils. Didymus Mutasa, her strongest card perhaps, has been silenced.
Simon Khaya Moyo, another ace in her pack, is being forced to announce the unconstitutional expulsion and suspension of his own factional comrades. This is a calculated technique to embarrass him and show the Mujuru loyalists who is in charge.
A shadowy politburo disciplinary committee led by Mnangagwa himself is setting up kangaroo tribunals to persecute his rivals. That is a clear demonstration of how much influence he now has on Mugabe – who seems to have been fed with opium. It means the impending elective congress will be an academic affair – Mnangagwa will land the deputy’s post.
He will certainly waste no time in consolidating his power after congress. The Old Man is busy snoring at the blue-roofed house, so he represents an insignificant part in the power game now. Mnangagwa will just make sure he keeps Grace close enough until he takes over from her husband. Remember, his plot is to convince Mugabe to announce his retirement by February next year, most likely at his 91st birthday. Grace will do most of the footwork in that regard.
On the other hand, Joice is unlikely to put up any fight. She will use the model that Mnangagwa employed when she beat him to the post that she will soon leave. Mnangagwa kept a low profile. He did not think of forming a splinter party and Joice will go the same way because she knows that it is polar-freezing outside Zanu (PF). She knows that very well because their Mavambo project did not succeed and Simba Makoni is freezing out there. So is Dumiso Dabengwa.
What, then, is in store for Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa? The best way to answer that question is to simply revisit and interpret how the Crocodile has gained the political clout and influence that he now enjoys. It indicates the manner in which he is going to rule this country. First, it is abundantly obvious that Mnangagwa rode on the back of an increasingly violent strategy.
Hungry youths and intimidating war veterans have been deployed to cow internal opponents in recent weeks and months. It seems that Mnangagwa is convinced that the Machiavellian instrument of violence is an inevitable power tool. Of course, he is not new to violence as his name has always featured in the systematic and calculated processes of violence that have been used to steal elections and cow opposition supporters in the past. He was very involve during Gukurahundi. He might be innocent, but I have not heard him refute such allegations. We must therefore brace for violent rule under Mnangagwa.
He managed to weaken Joice through a complex cocktail of propaganda, lies and half-truths, intimidation, self-serving praise, mudslinging and manipulation of party processes and structures. He cleverly abused affiliated organisations such as the war veterans and traditional leaders to whip up emotion against Mujuru and her allies and, some say, even used money to buy loyalty to his cause.
Now he has presided over a seemingly unconstitutional kangaroo court to bully the politburo to suspend a whole range of party provincial leaders. For instance, it beats me how Jabulani Sibanda could just be expelled without being subjected to a disciplinary process. I don’t remember the politburo working like that before. That means that Mnangagwa has little regard for constitutional and legal tenets. He doesn’t seem to have transformed since the days the UN alleged he stole precious minerals from war-torn DRC. Ironically, he is the justice minister.
A justice minister who treats his party constitution with contempt will always make a bad ruler. He might not transform Zimbabwe into a kangaroo republic, but he may find it difficult to shed the old spots. African dictatorships thrive on the basis of the manipulation of party and government structures. These organs become an integral component in the persecution and repression of the people. Mnangagwa, in this regard, has left little to our imagination.