President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu-PF party are now desperately moving to block any further anarchy within the former liberation movement by clamping down on planned new suspensions of party officials and Members of Parliament across the country.
Analysts told the Daily News last night that the party’s move was a strategy to avoid by-elections at a time the Zanu-PF membership was sharply divided between supporters of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his fired predecessor Joice Mujuru.
Zanu-PF national secretary for the commissariat, Savior Kasukuwere, ordered all of the party’s 10 provinces at the weekend not to suspend officials, emphasising further that only structures that existed at the time of the party’s damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare early this month would be recognised.
Kasukuwere’s order came as the Zanu-PF Manicaland provincial coordinating committee adopted a motion on Saturday imposing five-year suspensions on party officials who were slapped with votes of no confidence ahead of the congress.
Bulawayo province was also reported to have taken a similar move, amid fears that this would result in all bigwigs accused of being close to Mujuru being booted out of the party.
Lapdog State media quoted Kasukuwere yesterday declaring that the suspension of officials in Manicaland province on Saturday was “null and void”.
“The commissariat department would like to advise all provinces and the entire membership that any changes to the existing structures of the party after congress will not be accepted without the following procedures and guidelines to be released by the department with the authority of the politburo and central committee under the guidance of the President and First Secretary.
“I am, therefore, informing all the provinces that no changes will be entertained without approval and sanction by the department.
“This is meant to avoid confusion and disturbances in the provinces and structures of the party. The recognised structures are those that attended the congress and any other changes thereafter are null and void. All provinces should, therefore, be guided accordingly,” Kasukuwere told The Herald.
Mugabe, at the instigation of his influential wife Grace — who is now telling the nonagenarian what to do — dismissed the popular Mujuru last week, replacing her with the secretive Mnangagwa, amid untested claims that the widowed liberation war heroine wanted to assassinate him.
In the process, Mugabe ostracised nearly 100 MPs and scores of Cabinet ministers who if they are chased out of the party altogether would create a mammoth political headache for Zanu-PF as by-elections would be neccessitated, with no guarantees that a dived Zanu-PF would win them.
The party’s anxiety is currently at roof level as it also emerges that former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has appealed to South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma to put pressure on Mugabe to reverse his controversial grab of powers in the warring party.
Analysts contacted by the Daily News yesterday said Mugabe was being haunted by his actions.
Shakespear Hamauswa, a political scientist based in Zambia said the ongoing bloodletting within the party was not conducive for Zanu-PF to go to any elections as aggrieved cadres would likely agitate for revenge.
“By-elections cannot be ruled out, because it is highly possible for the ousted Zanu-PF cadres to resign from Parliament. While there are some benefits to be lost, I think these people have known frustrations and therefore they can easily take political risks.
“From another angle, the situation at hand confirms what Machiavelli warned to the New Prince that he should not think his problems are over because the old prince has been killed or has fled because it is only then that his problems as a leader begin.
“Thus while Mnangagwa’s rival Mujuru seems to be down and out, Ngwena and team are faced with problems not as factional leaders but as leaders of their party and the country. Thus in their moment of victory, they are bound to make human mistakes,” Hamauswa said.
Gladys Hlatswayo, a Hubert Humpfrey fellow at Minnesota University in the United States of America said Zanu-PF was concerned about dynamics within the party.
“The recent communication from the commissariat for provinces to stop purging people might reveal that while Mujuru was successfully ousted, there are a sizeable number of disgruntled people within Zanu-PF structures who can cause anarchy in the party hence this directive to stop expulsions,” Hlatswayo said.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme concurred with Hlatswayo adding that Zanu-PF was scared that the elections could result in the ousted candidates trouncing party-sponsored candidates in by-elections.
“That art of fear has nothing to do with the State, but everything to do with Mugabe’s paranoia and insecurity that led him to purge Mujuru and her sympathisers.
“This is one of the many cases where the entire country is being held at ransom because of Mugabe’s insecurity. He failed to put in place a proper succession plan way back, and he is now trying to do it in a chaotic manner but in the process, costing every Zimbabwean,” Saungweme said.
“What investors will put their money in a country where a VP is fired for no good reason or where the Constitution is trampled upon by one man?” he asked.
Mcdonald Lewanika, director of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said avoiding by-elections would only be useful to save face in light of the possible and looming disintegration of the party.
“After the kind of re-organisation that has taken place, it would be in the interest of Zanu-PF to create an impression that the centre is holding and there is a very real danger that during by-elections, if those who were expelled contest, may show the extent of the cracks that Zanu-PF has been trying to paper over.
“However, let us remember that ‘rebels’ in Zanu-PF are not known for their bravery, preferring to operate in the shadows. So, the extent of the fissures will be clear during by-elections,” Lewanika said.
Lewanika added that the disaffected members of the party were most likely going to embrace the winners for now and wait for an opportune time to strike back.
However, Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch said the possibility of anarchy within Zanu-PF was exaggerated because the party was run like a military machine, leaving little room for dissent.
“President Mugabe can deploy State security forces to enforce order and loyalty within Zanu-PF. The only real possibility of anarchy and disintegration of Zanu-PF will come if there is discontent and disobedience within the security forces.
“If the security forces remain loyal to Mugabe and his preferred faction, then the party will stay intact,’ he said.