HARARE – Political analysts have said it would be suicidal for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to come clean on his mooted presidential ambitions despite growing calls by his supporters who feel his silence is fuelling the factional and succession fights in the deeply divided Zanu PF.
Mnangagwa allies — Team Lacoste and a group of young Turks going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40) — have being going at each other hammer and tongs in the brutal Zanu PF succession war.
G40 is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa’s reported presidential ambitions.
The Midlands godfather has not publicly stated his bid although he is touted as the front runner to succeed Mugabe who turns a very mature 93 years old next month.
In recent weeks, Mnangagwa’s allies who include disgruntled war veterans, have been making loud calls for Mugabe to pave way for his long time aide.
Political analysts, however, say Mnangagwa is right to continue with “softly-softly strategy despite the impatience of his supporters.
“If Mnangagwa declares his interest he will be committing political suicide. The whole system of intimidation and character assassination in his party will descend on him,’ said Maxwell Saungwemwe.
“That will be a very heedless political manoeuvre. Zanu PF’s political system is averse to succession planning and discussions. The system believes that as long as Mugabe can breathe, discussing succession is a politically mutinous taboo and a no go area.
“He (Mnangagwa) has stayed too long in Zanu PF to know that declaring his interest will make him a dead man walking. This will not happen.
“By the way he and all Zanu PF officials are cowards who can’t challenge Mugabe openly. They have too many examples of their kind who faced the music after talking of succession,” added Saungweme.
Political commentator Farai Maguwu said those calling for Mnangagwa to declare his interest have a clear agenda to end his political career.
“Mugabe has said it again and again that anyone who harbours presidential ambitions during his lifetime is a witch. If Mnangagwa declares his interest it will be seen as a coup by Mugabe and he will be dealt with the Mujuru way.
“Mnangagwa is praying the same prayer every Zimbabwean is silently praying.”
Political and civic rights’ activist Vivid Gwede said it was dangerous to declare one’s ambitions in Zanu PF as history was littered by “men and women” who fell by the wayside for declaring their own political ambitions.
“For Mnangagwa to plainly tell Mugabe to go would result in a serious backlash on his career because he is an appointee. Remember how it ended for people like Edison Zvobgo who also had the same presidential ambitions and spoke out,” Gwede told the Daily News.
“For Mnangagwa to remain safe it does not have to be a personal matter, but an organisational matter in Zanu PF. Yes, there is an element of fear of consequences in his silence. So I think it is a problem of an organisational culture, where the mechanism of succession is not working because of too much centralisation of power by Mugabe.
“On the other hand, we need to understand that there was a potential succession in 2008 which was aborted. So it does not have to be about Mnangagwa but even free and fair national elections that allow a new leader to emerge outside Zanu PF.
“In fact, the electoral succession is the one envisaged by our constitution. To avoid any confusion, it should be widely known that succession in Zimbabwe is not a Zanu PF family matter, it is a national matter which can also be very democratically resolved by the 2018 elections.”
Human rights activist Edinah Masanga said Mnangagwa should make known his interests.
‘’I think if Mnangagwa really wants to succeed Mugabe he should make his wishes known. Why is he hiding in the closet so to speak?
“No one wants a leader like that, that displays cowardice tendencies, if you are going to lead people you have to straight speak up so the people can see you. But in all honest, I just think Zanu PF should not lead anyone in Zimbabwe at all. Enough is enough,” said Masanga.
In recent weeks there have been loud calls by both Mnagagwa supporters and high profile politicians for the Midlands godfather to make known his reported presidential plans.
Former Education minister David Coltart recently challenged Mnangagwa to “come clean” on his mooted presidential aspirations.
This came as Zanu PF’s two major factions were savaging each other with malicious intent ever since the images of Mnangagwa holding a coffee mug inscribed with the words “I Am the Boss” emerged in the public domain at the beginning of the year.
“Mnangagwa has a constitutional right, along with the rest of us, to aspire for political office. There is nothing wrong with that, and good luck to him.
“But I have a word of advice for him which is in two pieces. Firstly, he needs to be open to us, as there is this cat-and-mouse game being played in our country where it’s obvious to everyone that he has presidential aspirations but he continues with the fiction that he doesn’t want this.
“We all know he has presidential aspirations, he should just come out and say so,” Coltart said
Mnangagwa’s allies, particularly a large cross-section of war veterans, have also escalated their loud calls for Mugabe to retire and pave way for his long time aide to take over the reins at both party and government level.
Expelled former Mashonaland Central youth chairman, Godfrey Tsenengamu, also warned that the VP’s followers were becoming impatient with his softly-softly strategy.
Tsenengamu also warned that if Mnangagwa did not confront Mugabe and the succession issue now, he risked losing much of the support of his battle-weary followers and other Zimbabweans who were yearning for change.
“ED (Mnangagwa) is too loyal to Mugabe and we can’t eat his loyalty to his leader. We are worried about our future as a younger generation and if what matters to him is his loyalty to Mugabe then they are going to go down together because we can’t vote for Mugabe in 2018,” Tsenengamu said emphatically.
Sacked former Cabinet minister and war veterans’ leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, together with his executive, have also stepped up their efforts to force Mugabe to step down, accusing the increasingly frail nonagenarian of being at the centre of the country’s rot.
Businessman-cum politician, Energy Mutodi also recently challenged Zanu PF told an extra ordinary congress to choose Mugabe’s successor.
And like Tsenengamu, Mutodi and Mutsvangwa, former Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland West province, Temba Mliswa, has also recently suggested that Mugabe should hand over power to Mnangagwa.