President Robert Mugabe and Mnangagwa lay traps for each other

The ferocious fightback in last Wednesday’s explosive Zanu PF politburo  meeting by under-fire Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his backers  shows that the former liberation movement’s deadly succession wars are  far from over, both analysts and party insiders say.

Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday, the analysts also warned that life for ordinary Zimbabweans  was set to get even tougher, with the attention of Zanu PF bigwigs  focused solely on their political survival in the twilight of President Robert Mugabe’s tenure in power.

Senior party officials who were canvassed for their opinion said despite taking huge blows from his enemies over the past few months, including seeing his influence being severely weakened in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, it was “way premature” to write off Mnangagwa’s chances of  succeeding Mugabe.

This comes after Mnangagwa and his allies came out guns blazing against Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo at last Wednesday’s tense politburo meeting in Harare — taking many people by surprise, including, by most accounts, powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe and other alleged G40 kingpins.

United Kingdom-based academic Alex Magaisa said the fact that Mugabe did not fire Mnangagwa when he whittled his powers in the Cabinet reshuffle would work to embolden the VP’s supporters.

“Keeping Mnangagwa in government is Mugabe’s strategy of containment. Mnangagwa will continue serving Mugabe as long as he is inside.

“Mugabe timed his reshuffle in such a way as to pre-empt Mnangagwa’s fightback which was due to come in the politburo meeting. By the time Mnangagwa struck, the deed had already been done,” he said.

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Earlier this year, when there was frenzied speculation within Zanu PF that Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations were dead in the water, after Mugabe’s birthday interview with State broadcaster, the ZBC, in which he said there was no one fit to succeed him, former ruling party spokesperson and Cabinet minister Rugare Gumbo also said the Midlands godfather could not be written off.

Gumbo — who worked with both Mugabe and Mnangagwa for many decades, before and after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 — said it was “folly” to assume that Mugabe had shut the door on his deputy succeeding him.

He also said it could not be ruled out that Mnangagwa himself was “playing a game of hide-and-seek” with the nonagenarian — adding that the two men had a strong bond and long-standing relationship which was “only fully understood by them”.

“Mugabe has always been a slippery character because, of all things, he always wanted power the most. While many other liberation movements had a succession plan, Mugabe long decided against coming up with one.

“Still, I wouldn’t say Mnangagwa has been blocked out. However, what I know is that Mugabe and Mnangagwa vakateyanirana mariva (the have set traps for each other). They are playing each other and only time will tell who will win,” he said.

Zanu PF is currently divided in the middle, with the G40 faction involved in a life-and-death tussle with Mnangagwa’s backers, Team  Lacoste.

Mugabe has consistently refused to name a successor, arguing that it is Zanu PF that must decide this issue through a congress when the time comes.

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Of late, the name of reclusive Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi has also been thrown into the succession ring, although the veteran politician — who has served in Mugabe’s Cabinet since independence in 1980 — has refused to be drawn into the debacle.

The party’s infighting took an ominous turn in August when Mnangagwa fell sick during an interface rally in Gwanda, which his backers said was a poison attack by his G40 enemies.

Mnangagwa was later airlifted to South Africa where he had emergency  surgery. He subsequently issued a statement denying that his illness was caused by ice cream from the First Family’s Gushungo Dairies, although, he has consistently suggested that he was poisoned.

Recently, Mnangagwa again suggested to hordes of his supporters who had converged at Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu, for the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s memorial service, that he was poisoned in the same way Mahofa was in 2015.

Days after that Masvingo address, his colleague Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who was acting president at the time, issued a scathing statement in which he attacked him for allegedly trying to divide the country and to undermine Mugabe.

Last Monday, Mugabe then moved to fire and demote several ministers perceived to be sympathetic to him, in a reshuffle which analysts said appeared to be largely motivated by the desire to contain the Midlands godfather’s control and influence of key government ministries.

Source:Daily News