HARARE – Zanu PF appears rattled by this week’s unexpected move by a group of disaffected party members who are taking President Robert Mugabe head-on over his increasingly contested control of the former liberation movement, with party bigwigs and lickspittle State media going apoplectic yesterday over the challenge.
Analysts told the Daily News yesterday that the over-the-top reaction by senior party officials, including threats and unbecoming insults directed at former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, left, was a clear sign that the challenge against Mugabe by many of Zanu PF’s leading lights had touched a raw nerve.
Mutasa move rattles Zanu PF Reportage and commentary in lapdog State newspapers ranged from hysterical calls for Mutasa to be expelled from Zanu PF forthwith, to the tired refrain that what he and his colleagues were doing allegedly “confirmed allegations levelled against former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s cabal of working with the opposition to unseat Zanu PF and eventually assassinate President Mugabe”.
Zambia-based political analyst, Shakespeare Hamauswa, said the rabid reaction by officials of the ruling party had not come as a surprise, adding that it was a clear sign of the panic within the party, as well as notice of the rejuvenation of the Mujuru camp which had a strong social base.
“I would like to think that the environment now presents opportunities for the second Save Zimbabwe Campaign as we are likely to witness more chaos in Zanu PF and Zimbabwe.
“This has obviously shaken Zanu PF and they are in panic mode. It is also possible that the Mnangagwa camp made mistakes by thinking their problems are over because their enemy Mujuru had been dethroned.
“Possibly, all this explains again that Mutasa and company had realised that they still have residual influence and have realised that it is Mugabe and the other faction which seemingly won the battle, who are in tatters. Thus, they are simply taking advantage of the wrangles within the Mnangagwa faction,” the Mulungisi University political science lecturer said.
South Africa-based Zimbabwean businessman, Mutumwa Mawere, said although the dispute would appear to be a domestic Zanu PF matter, the constitutional and legal implications would haunt Zimbabweans for a very long time.
“The beneficiary of the unorthodox removal of former VP Mujuru is a trained attorney and minister of Justice, but one would expect the protectors of the state Constitution to be the last to be accused of undermining it.
“When a secretary of administration of any party steps up to make the kind of allegations made, one is compelled to take notice of the implied justice. The promise of independence could not have been rule by law but rule of law as provided for in the Constitution.
“However, any instrument that purports to be legal that limits the rights of any citizen without the due process of the law cannot be clothed as a constitutional measure,” Mawere said.
Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe director, Mcdonald Lewanika, said the latest challenge could not be taken for granted, although the situation was not entirely ripe for the opposition.
“Zanu PF is definitely changing and new alliances, accommodations and compromises will be sought. But we cannot take for granted that the nature of opposition to mainstream Zanu PF will be as it was in 2008, by 2018.
“But given the nature of those who are ascendant in Zanu PF and the fact that the popular Zanu PF base is divided and possibly being decimated, we may easily see a return to the resorting to violence and coercion as a means of capturing and retaining State power?
“We have to bear in mind that the Zanu PF that we see has the architects of Gukurahundi, the authors of POSA and AIPPA and are not hesitant about using chicanery and force to capture and retain power.
“It is also clear that if the incumbent ruling party president, who is also the Head of State, were to vacate State and party offices, the chaos that will ensue is self-evident as the two VPs have no nexus with the ruling party outside the personal preference of the incumbent.
“Where would their legitimacy to succeed the incumbent come from if they have escaped the eye of the democratic needle?” Lewanika said.
A politburo member who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was unfortunate that Mugabe had pushed out fellow comrades who had helped him to liberate the country, and had thus allegedly decided to align himself with “sellouts.”
“It is unfortunate that things have been allowed to reach this point where some comrades feel they have been pushed against the wall and that it is time that they stood up.”
The politburo member also accused Mugabe of “ill-treating his liberation war comrades” at the instigation of new party cadres of a “dubious standing”.
“Mugabe was made to create enemies out of his friends by those who misinformed him that these comrades were his foes. I think we need to look at ourselves as a party and to self-introspect in order that we can bring the party back to its founding values.
“What is particularly painful is that it is seemingly impossible for us to reconcile with our own comrades such as (Didymus) Mutasa and yet we managed to do that with the whites in 1980 who were oppressing and killing us. We also did it again when we signed the Unity Accord,” he added.
Analysts have said that Mugabe faces possibly his biggest political challenge since he assumed the leadership of both Zanu PF and Zimbabwe, with his one-time trusted lieutenants now evolving into a formidable tag-team as they bid to pressure him to run the party and the country more democratically.
They also say the current pressure could see Mugabe completely losing his tight grip on Zanu PF and ultimately lead to the 90-year-old losing the leadership of the party completely.
Serving party heavyweights, liberation war pioneers and analysts who spoke to the Daily News on Tuesday said the latest “frontal attack” on Mugabe by the disaffected members sympathetic to Mujuru had “never been witnessed before” and threatened to sweep the nonagenarian out of power.
They also blamed Mugabe’s wife Grace and some Mafikizolos (Johnny-come-latelies) for “the self-inflicted mess” that now confronted Mugabe and Zanu PF.
These sentiments followed the unprecedented move by the party stalwarts on Monday, including perceived allies of Mujuru, to confront
Mugabe head-on — a development analysts say is set to shake the ruling party to its core, and possibly result in the party of liberation splitting down the middle.
The party heavyweights, led by Mutasa, have bluntly called Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare late last year “null and void”.
They also, ominously, slated all the party appointments and changes that were made just before, during and after the controversial congress — pitting themselves for a titanic showdown with Mugabe,
Grace and party hardliners who led the assault on Mujuru and all party officials who were perceived to be sympathetic to her.
In a statement that was provocatively signed by Mutasa in his capacity as the ruling party’s secretary for administration, “in the broad interest of democracy and in defense of the Zanu PF founding principles”, the disaffected party members called for the nullification of the entire process of “the so-called congress”, deeming it constitutionally flawed.
They also agitated for the re-instatement of “the entire constitutionally-elected office bearers of the party in all structures of all wings, as at the 1st of July 2014”.
The no-holds barred statement also called for the nullification of all “purported constitutional amendments drafted and rail-roaded immediately before this so-called congress”, as well as the restoration of the “elective dignity of congress and the one-man one-vote principle as enunciated by our armed struggle and constitution”.
The statement shook the entire Zimbabwean body politic and prompted many serving Zanu PF bigwigs to proclaim in interviews with the Daily News that they were ready to join the disaffected members in their fight to “restore Zanu PF to its former self” and end the party’s dictatorship.
“Just watch this space, we have suffered enough,” said a central committee member who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.
“Since the liberation struggle, people have been treated unfairly and there is no justice in the party. We want Zanu PF to return to its founding principles and values and it is time that we all joined hands and ended this dictatorship,” the official added.