Mugabe loses control of Zanu PF

President Robert Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe may have virtually lost control of Zanu PF, with his wife Grace and a faction linked to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa literally in charge.

Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa
Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa

Nqobile Bhebhe
Chief Reporter

Political analysts say Mugabe’s inertia over the deep chasm and personal attacks on his deputy, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, all but confirmed their beliefs that the president was not in charge.

Commentators said the continued upheavals rocking Zanu PF ahead of its December elective congress were an illustration of Mugabe’s failure to outline a succession plan and this was fuelling gross indiscipline within his party.

United Kingdom-based social scientist Admore Tshuma said the present Zanu PF divisions were a product of Mugabe’s failure to groom his successor.

“There is no doubt, judging by the turn of events that Mugabe has lost control of his party,” he said.

“In a perfect scenario, Mugabe has got to control his bickering lieutenants.”

Tshuma said Zanu PF was in a chaotic state thanks to Mugabe’s failure to stamp his authority on the feuding factions.

“It is clear that the current Zanu PF divisions are a product of Mugabe’s failure to groom a successor,” he continued.

“And, at 90, I find it impossible for him to restore order in his party.”

Due to continuous infighting, Tshuma said Zimbabwe and Zanu PF were on autopilot.

“There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is leaderless as a result of the squabbles, needlessly to say, the closest person in charge is Grace Mugabe,” he said.

“There are good signs to advance the argument that Grace has become a de facto president of Zimbabwe.”

The academic said the mooted vote of no confidence on Mashonaland East provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde “two weeks after a public humiliation by Grace is evidence that she is now a self-appointed president of Zimbabwe, standing in for her aged husband”.

Five chairpersons perceived to be aligned to Mujuru have been deposed.

However, Bulawayo-based political commentator Godwin Phiri said Mugabe was in charge of the party and the demonstrations and vote of no confidence were well-co-ordinated.

“I believe Mugabe is well in charge of the party,” he said.

“Before the last politburo meeting, I recall him saying procedure must be followed if people want to remove anyone.

“Now, we have witnessed a string of co-ordinated demos and vote of no confidence motions passed on people linked to Mujuru.

“The idea is to influence and restrict the number of delegates to congress associated with Mujuru.

“So I believe Mugabe is well aware of these developments and in full command of the party.”

Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo recently said what was happening in the party was akin to a free for all, with chaos being the order of the day. Gumbo, himself subject to a vote of no confidence motion, described the events in Zanu PF as sad.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo

However, Mugabe is often seen as a Machiavelli type of politician, often allowing his supporters to batter each other politically while at the same reaffirming their support to him, meaning he remains unchallenged.

Political commentator Dumisani Nkomo said it was suicidal to assume Mugabe had lost control of Zanu PF, saying his silence was consistent with his behaviour.

“Historically, Mugabe has allowed some people or groups to appear as being in charge of both Zanu PF and government,” he said.

“One easily recalls the time when the late war veteran leader Chenjerai Hunzi, former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, Jabulani Sibanda, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and even army generals appeared to have been in charge at one stage.

“Mugabe would suddenly emerge and assert his authority after all these people seemed to have done his dirty work or fulfilled his short-term goals.

“He allows politics to play out and without notice he will emerge.”

Nkomo said, presently the Mngangagwa faction seemed to be having an upper hand, but it would be naïve to assume that they had Mugabe’s full backing.

“He will soon emerge and stamp his authority,” he said.