HARARE – All eyes are on President Robert Mugabe on his return from Mexico, as the wily nonagenarian bids to douse, once and for all, the raging and worsening tribal, factional and succession wars consuming his ruling Zanu PF.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that “the desperation and stress” among many party heavyweights had reached unsustainable levels that “something has to give soon”.
“It’s panic stations all round in many quarters and unfortunately only one man, Gushungo (Mugabe), can take away the chefs’ (senior party officials’) pain.
“If you have been following social media closely over the past few days, particularly accounts linked to some officials and their lackeys who are active on Twitter and WhatsApp for example, the panic and desperation will not have escaped you,” one of the sources said.
This comes after Zanu PF’s mindless bloodletting witnessed an unprecedented orgy of intra-party violence in Bulawayo earlier this week.
Mugabe — who spent a week in Mexico attending an obscure conference on climate together with the ruling party’s under-fire national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere — returned home yesterday amid the former liberation movement’s worsening infighting which analysts say is reaching a tipping point.
Another insider told the Daily News yesterday that Zanu PF was likely to have its delayed politburo meeting this coming week, where Mugabe was expected to try and deal decisively with the ruling party’s deepening ructions — including the chaos in the influential women’s league, the disputed Masvingo leadership election, the Bulawayo violence and the Kasukuwere affair.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said there was no doubt that Mugabe was now under tremendous pressure to “crack the whip” in the burning former liberation movement.
“The number one issue he has to deal with now is that of his national political commissar. And it is possible that their trip together to Mexico may have given Kasukuwere a chance to talk to Mugabe one on one, and thus give him a chance to clear his name.
“But whether or not that happened, Mugabe still has to solve the issue formally, as there has been a lot of restlessness and there is therefore that need for a decisive voice from him.
“The violence that rocked Bulawayo is an extension of the same Kasukuwere issue … amid the context that nine out of 10 provinces have endorsed a vote of no confidence against him. So, Mugabe will need to deal with all this,” Masunugure told the Daily News.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, also said Mugabe would need to deal with the Kasukuwere issue as soon as possible, to avoid a complete implosion of the ruling party.
“He needs to deal decisively with the Kasukuwere issue to avoid another split of Zanu PF. The issue has been causing Zanu PF to implode, and it needs his attention,” Saungweme said.
Kasukuwere has been fighting to save his political career over the past few weeks, with angry Zanu PF supporters pushing for his ouster from both his party and government positions, over a raft of charges which include allegedly plotting to topple Mugabe from power.
A probe team tasked to investigate the allegations against Kasukuwere has since submitted its findings to Mugabe.
Kasukuwere also stands accused by his party enemies of stoking tension in the deeply-divided ruling party, after he barred an ex-intelligence operative, Pearson Mbalekwa, from participating in the impending Chiwundura by-election.
The move has seen his rivals calling for decisive action to be taken against him, with voluble war veterans’ leader and former Cabinet minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa, accusing Kasukuwere of “personalising” Zanu PF.
Mutsvangwa said the Mbalekwa decision had been taken in an unprocedural manner, adding that Kasukuwere was “now behaving like the owner of Zanu PF”.
“That is (Mbalekwa decision) an abuse of power and personalisation of Zanu PF by a clueless and disorderly G40 (Generation 40),” Mutsvangwa said referring to the Zanu PF faction which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
“Why does Tyson (Kasukuwere’s nickname) also issue a statement from a foreign country (he is in Mexico with Mugabe)? There ought to be an acting PC (political commissar).
“Kufa kwemujoni company haivharwi (Work does not stop because the boss is not there or has died).
“Even the president does not do that. He leaves behind an acting president when he travels. For security and protocol, pronouncements of State have to be issued from the seat of power. What if Kasukuwere is kidnapped in a foreign land and is under duress?
“Crass ignorance and compulsive dictatorial proclivity to the abuse of State power is the hallmark of G40,” added the garrulous Mutsvangwa.
Apart from having to deal with Kasukuwere’s saga, Mugabe is expected to deal with the unprecedented intra-party violence which rocked Bulawayo last weekend, where rival factions engaged in bloody skirmishes which led to the cancellation of a provincial coordinating committee (PCC) meeting at Davies Hall.
Mugabe is also expected to deal with the contested results of the Masvingo provincial chairmanship election, which was comprehensively won by an alleged Team Lacoste candidate, Ezra Chadzamira — who walloped Mutero Masanganise who had pulled out from the mini internal plebiscite days before polling, citing a number of alleged irregularities.
Masanganise — who is linked to the G40 faction— pulled out of the Masvingo poll re-run arguing that it was illegal.
Mugabe and the politburo had nullified the results from the initial regional poll, which was won by Chadzamira — amid similar claims of irregularities, including people not voting in some districts.
Chadzamira, who is the former regional chairperson and an alleged Mnangagwa backer, crushed Masanganise then — polling 12 393 votes against his opponent’s 4 888, amid allegations of rigging and failure by people in Mwenezi and some parts of Chiredzi to vote.
Observers have also consistently said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s thorny succession riddle is fuelling the ruling party’s deadly infighting, which is worsening by the day.
The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.