A showdown is looming in Cabinet today as President Robert Mugabe and Vice-President Joice Mujuru are set to meet for the first time since the veteran ruler alleged that his deputy was involved in a plot to kill him.
While all along the fallout between the two was at party level, it now moves to government business in what may turn out to be Mujuru’s last Cabinet meeting.
With Mujuru all but out of Zanu PF, Mugabe now has the chance to kick her to the kerb, ahead of the naming of a new politburo and ultimately the naming of two deputies to succeed the late John Nkomo and Mujuru.
While the vice-president has refused to resign, the ball is now in Mugabe’s court to put finality in the matter.
The vice-president dodged politburo meetings and the Zanu PF congress, but it remains to be seen whether she has accepted her fate and will skip today’s meeting.
A number of ministers, who have been accused of being in Mujuru’s camp, are expected to attend what may turn out to be a tense meeting.
In what could be foreboding for the meeting, Mugabe ignored Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa’s outstretched hand as he left the opening ceremony of the Youth Games in Bulawayo on Sunday.
Langa was recently booted out as chairman of Zanu PF Matabeleland South and he, like Mujuru, faces an uncertain future both in the party and the government.
Analysts, however, ruled out a showdown in today’s Cabinet meeting arguing that most of Mujuru’s allies had accepted their fate and were further suppressed by their fear of Mugabe.
“The fight in Zanu PF was always about the control of the soul of the party,” Clever Bere, a former student leader, said.
“Mujuru and colleagues are now aware and have accepted that at this point they have played second fiddle.
“I believe they won’t be contemplating any fightback for now.”
Bere said the best strategy for Mujuru and her allies was to retreat and strategise.
National Youth Development Trust director Liberty Bhebhe said Mugabe was in a quandary, pointing out that he failed to name the politburo and his deputies at the congress.
He, however, ruled out any chances of the Mujuru faction challenging Mugabe at the Cabinet meeting.
“The hype about the congress was for nothing,” Bhebhe said.
“The real appointments will happen now and the (Justice minister Emmerson) Mnangagwa faction is likely to have its own share of disappointments. However, the greatest loser this time will be the Mujuru faction.”
Mnangagwa is reportedly leading another faction in the race to succeed Mugabe.
Bhebhe said expectations had been high at congress and Mugabe might just have bought time to dampen them with this delay.