HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s deeply divided Zanu PF is likely to face another debilitating crisis, a second “Bhora Musango” in 2018 general elections, analysts have said.
Mugabe’s Zanu PF is being consumed by deadly factional and succession wars pitting embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters against the party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) group.
Just like in 2008 when a clique of disillusioned Zanu PF members urged the electorate to vote for them only and not Mugabe in what became known as “bhora musango” (kick the ball off the field), United Kingdom-based political analyst Alex Magaisa said “it is fair to predict that there will be another bhora musango one way or another “ come 2018.
“Neither of the two factions like each other very much and I cannot see why one will support the other in their quest for power. In the past they have been able to close ranks but this time the acrimony is escalating to levels that may be impossible to bridge,” Magaisa said in an interview with the Daily News.
Human rights activist and political analyst Dewa Mavhinga weighed in saying history is set to repeat itself again.
Mavhinga argued that with the increasingly frail Mugabe turning 94 years when elections come next year, it was normal that some of his colleagues “will do the reasonable thing and call for him to step down and make way for an orderly succession process”.
“But if he ignores such calls, the factions will not go away, and most likely 2018 will be another bhora musango on a massive scale,” Mavhinga told the Daily News.
This comes as disgruntled war collaborators and former freedom fighters have said they will not campaign for the increasingly frail nonagenarian in the highly-anticipated 2018 elections.
Over the years, war veterans have served as Mugabe and Zanu PF’s pillar of strength, playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian on the throne in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 national elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.
Analysts have also predicted that Mugabe will not win the 2018 polls without the support of the war veterans, while on their part the ex-combatants have vowed that they will vote for an opposition candidate if the nonagenarian stands in those elections.
A meeting in April to try and mend relations between the war vets and Mugabe failed to resolve the stalemate, with the former freedom fighters setting difficult conditions for the nonagenarian, including that he ditches alleged Generation 40 (G40) kingpins such as Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and the ruling party’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
Political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa also said while Zanu PF is legendary for coalescing into a formidable front towards elections, succession and survival fights in the party have never reached the current dog-eat-dog levels.
“I think if the problem of succession is not resolved, they are not going to be united come 2018. We have precedence in that regard. In 2008 the bhora musango scenario is likely to repeat itself. In the Norton by-election they could not unite.”
Hamauswa said while this time the fissures are deeper and cracks are wider, Zanu PF’s saving grace will likely be that the opposition is also weak and divided.
“We cannot certainly say Zanu PF will be history after 2018 because the current challenges in Zanu PF have not been countered by a formidable opposition.
“If the opposition fails to unite we might have a continuation of the current set up or we might have serious voter apathy.”
On the other hand Afghanistan based political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said while Zanu PF supporters will most likely vote for Mugabe in 2018 they will however, differ in parliamentary and council elections
“Zanu PF members are all Mugabe’s boys and girls. If Mugabe is there, he can whip them into line to rally behind selected party candidates.
“But like in the past we have had Zanu PF members rebelling against imposed party candidates and this has led to independent candidates in some constituencies winning.
“This will happen again in several constituencies. But for presidency if Mugabe is still there, then all of them will support him. Zanu PF operates like a political cult in which Mugabe is the lead masquerade. So no one will dare oppose him.
“So they will all unite around Mugabe, and differ in other elections (parliamentary and council elections) based on factions. And this is not new.”
Asked on the possibility of another bhora musango in 2018 Saungweme said, “anything is possible with an imploding party.”
So bad is the situation in the ruling party as the two factions continue to wash their dirty linen in public with Mnangagwa allies recently promising to finish off the G40 and also promised to deal with Kasukuwere and Moyo.
Party political commissar Kasukuwere is accused of leaning towards the G40 faction and his adversaries in Zanu PF accuse him of targeting Mnangagwa’s allies.
He however denies the accusations and has constantly demonstrated that whatever he does he would have the blessings of Mugabe.
Thus, Mnangagwa’s loyalists who go by the fancy moniker Team Lacoste are of the view that Mugabe will not tinker with the commissariat department headed by a G40 kingpin.