Mugabe in Mujuru dilemma

First Lady Grace Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faces a dilemma on how to deal with Vice-President Joice Mujuru, as on one hand his deputy might be quite popular and on the other, the statements by his wife Grace, that she be fired, could be his own sentiments.

In quite an uncharacteristic fashion, the First Lady called for Mujuru’s ouster, which could be an indication of what Mugabe thinks, but the vice-president’s support and power base could make it difficult for him to dispense with her without seriously fracturing the party, analysts said.

As if to show the conundrum the president is in, Grace said Mujuru should resign immediately, whereas, Mugabe has gone for a seemingly dovish approach, saying the issue will be dealt with at congress.JOICE-MUJURU-2

Political analysts this week said this was an indicator that the vice-president could not be done away with as swiftly as Grace and some hawks in the party may have wished.

Political commentator, Dumisani Nkomo, said Mugabe was at present trying to portray himself as neutral in the whole fiasco, although it was evident he was wary that Mujuru could be eyeing his position.

“Mugabe knows what he is doing,” he said.

“He is trying to weaken the Mujuru faction for now. He is weakening her to ensure she is not a threat to his stay in power, but at the same time he fears to push her too hard.

“He thinks that if he pushes the faction out now, Mujuru might take with her quite a large number of powerful people.”

Nkomo said Mugabe was quite unpredictable, as he sometimes lashes out at Zanu PF members in public, raising speculation they would be fired, but his anger soon dissipates.

“Remember what he did to Information minister Jonathan Moyo when he described him as a weevil,” he said.

“Many people thought Jonathan was gone, but he is still there.

“That is what Mugabe may be doing in Mujuru’s case, but the danger is that Mujuru commands a big following and Mugabe, in such a case, would love to keep people in suspense and in the dark over what will happen next.”

Nkomo implied that Mugabe was engaging in Machiavellian political tactics, where he left both his supporters and critics guessing what his next move was.

The political analyst said despite Mugabe being a shrewd political operator, age was catching up with him and he could not deploy his acumen as he would normally like to.

“The problem Mugabe faces is that Mujuru, despite the vitriolic attacks, remained quiet, keeping those who attack her guessing what course of action she will take,” he said.

“There is nothing difficult like dealing with someone you verbally attack and he or she remains silent.

“I think the Mujuru faction is pulling up its sleeves, ready to pounce and what it has in store for its rivals will definitely be a shocker.”

Godwin Phiri, a political analyst, however, said Mugabe was still in charge of the party and his middle-of-the-road approach was a statement that even if Mujuru were to be fired, Zanu PF still had to follow protocol.

“Mugabe is saying the normal channels must be followed if Mujuru has to be ousted, she has already lost that favour,” he said.

“There are suggestions that if she loses, she will go into opposition or she will form her own party, but the issue is that when you leave that centre of power, you also lose relevance.”

Phiri suggested that if Mujuru lost her position and quit the party, she could lose political clout and support and be like Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader, Simba Makoni.

“The same is happening with Simba Makoni who thought he was popular, when he left he became politically irrelevant,” he said.

“The same applies with Dumiso Dabengwa. So, if Mujuru loses, I advise her to rather stay in the party because her political career may flop.”

Journalist and political analyst, Methuseli Moyo, said it was clear Mugabe was on Grace’s side and inevitably, his lot was with the Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction, although he was careful not to antagonise the Mujuru camp.

Moyo said there was no doubt anymore that Mugabe had followed his wife and other relatives to Mnangagwa’s faction. He was, however, cautious not to antagonise Mujuru directly as his wife did.

“Mugabe, Grace and the State media are working hard to demonise Mujuru, but the situation on the ground remains undecided,” he said.
“Mujuru can still win and Mugabe will be stuck with her.”

“Clearly, Grace seems to be using her proximity to the President to steer the ship in the direction of her faction, however, her crusade against Mujuru may boomerang.”


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