POLITICAL analysts have described the fierce infighting by the Zanu PF top brass as a deliberate manoeuvre by President Robert Mugabe to extend his stay in power by portraying himself as the party’s sole unifying force.
The analysts said Mugabe was deliberately letting the factional fights play out in the open so that the party’s grassroots structures would plead with him to stay on and save the ruling party from disintegrating.
Bulawayo-based actvist Dumisani Nkomo said: “It’s all political arithmetic at play. Mugabe always appears not in control when in reality he would be absolutely in charge. The reality of the situation is that he doesn’t want any of the factions to be too strong, hence his statement as articulated by (presidential spokesperson George) Charamba.”
The internal party fights shot to the roof last week after Charamba announced that the Zanu PF politburo was yet to receive provincial election results for Mashonaland Central although party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo had earlier announced them.
Charamba and Gumbo last week issued contradictory statements over the provincial elections in Mashonaland Central that were won by Luke Mushore who beat former chairman Dickson Mafios.
Charamba claimed Mugabe had instructed him to convey a message that the politburo would decide on the fate of the disputed elections after receiving a report from the presiding officer Francis Nhema.
Party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa also accused Charamba of overstepping his mandate.
But, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister and Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo defended Charamba saying: “There can be no executive authority in Zanu PF higher than the party president and first secretary (Mugabe). Any suggestion or claim to the contrary is mischievous to the extreme.”
Moyo added: “It is only when the politburo has been favoured with both the results and the accompanying report that it will then be in a position to study both before taking a decision. This is the official position as directed by the president and it has not changed.”
Charamba on Sunday insisted he was simply a “messenger” working under instruction from his boss.
“I am a medium and my role is to transmit messages and as a medium, I never seek to be the message,” Charamba said.
“Consequently, my role began and ended with the instruction from the President which I believe I delivered to all the concerned.”
So deep rooted were the party divisions that senior government officials were allegedly snubbing events where colleagues from the opposing faction would be in attendance.
Another political activist Ernest Mudzengi said the latest impasse in Zanu PF was likely to work against Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s faction, perceived to be gaining ground against her rival, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“This fight may be to Mujuru’s disadvantage. They may now be mistrusted by Mugabe and he may attempt to weaken them. He has the ability to do that. What Charamba did was simply to articulate the position of the president,” Mudzengi said.
Commenting on the alleged snubbing of events by government officials from opposing factions, political commentator Takura Zhangazha said Mugabe had to act with speed to avoid a crisis in governance.
“It’s indicative of succession battles and Mugabe has to deal with this issue candidly and transparently to avoid problems within central government. Divisions are exploding to these levels because, according to the new Constitution, should Mugabe leave office between now and 2018, a successor would have to come from within Zanu PF and so a lot is at stake here,” he said.