Vice President Joice Mujuru’s fate is likely to be sealed this weekend after several Zanu PF committees sat down to deliberate on the state of the party Friday, amid strong indications that the beleaguered party and government number two will be axed summarily.
And with Mujuru’s well-choreographed annihilation virtually achieved by her party enemies, insiders and analysts say the hot seat that she will vacate is now Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s to lose.
“I can assure you that Mai Mujuru is gone and Ngwena ave panyanga (Mnangagwa is in). We expect an announcement on this between tomorrow (today) and the next two weeks,” said a politburo member last night.
But another source said President Robert Mugabe had surprisingly intervened in the “violent calls for Mujuru’s immediate sacking” Friday, telling supporters through National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda – who has been accommodated temporarily at the high table in the absence of Mujuru and indisposed secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa – that her fate needed to be dealt with properly through the right channels.
Mudenda – one of the dark horses tipped for appointment as Mugabe’s second deputy – subsequently went on to chronicle to the gathering a litany of allegations against the embattled VP and her perceived allies.
Among the battery of allegations levelled against her was the murky plot to topple and assassinate Mugabe, as well as the allegations of gross corruption, abuse of office and fanning factionalism within the ruling party.
Sources say Mujuru had also been accused of having over-weening ambition that allegedly saw her try to call for “illegal” Cabinet and politburo meetings when Mugabe had been away.
It had also been alleged that Mujuru and her allies had been working with the Americans who had allegedly promised them that they were going to pour billions of dollars into the country’s ailing economy if they succeeded in toppling Mugabe from power.
Mudenda is alleged to have further claimed that Mujuru and her allies had created parallel centres of power, causing confusion and factionalism within the party.
He also said that the revelation of the plots by Mugabe’s wife Grace had saved the nonagenarian from being toppled from power.
“Thanks to the revelations made the by the mother of revelations Dr Mugabe, this helped us to know what was happening,” Mudenda said.
Other sources said a committee chaired by Simon Khaya Moyo then sat after lunch to deliberate on all recommendations that had been made, one of which was to expel Mujuru and her allies from the party.
Analysts said it would not be surprising if Mujuru and her allies were expelled from the party, given that her bravest sympathisers, former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, had been similarly expelled.
Mugabe set the stage for the expulsion of Mujuru and her key allies on Thursday by stating that all leaders fingered in the alleged coup plots against him would go down.
He has since ratcheted up his brutal assault on his VP, branding her a thief and a coward who was too scared to attend Zanu PF’s ongoing congress.
The long-ruling nonagenarian also warned of the possible arrest of Mujuru and her supporters if concrete evidence of their alleged treasonous plots against him is brought forward.
“We heard a lot about corruption involving diamonds and gold in which she (Mujuru) is being implicated.
“Now, if you are the leader and you are not honest, how does that work? Who will apprehend the thieves?
“You can never set a thief to catch another thief. Leaders are supposed to be morally upright,” Mugabe thundered ominously.
“If you are a minister, deputy or civil servant and you are found guilty, you will be prosecuted and we will in turn dismiss you from your position in government and the party,” he added.
Meanwhile, speculation is mounting that Mnangagwa is set to be appointed the country’s next VP if his long-time rival Mujuru is removed this weekend.
The party strongman has long been touted as a possible heir to Mugabe – although six months ago his chances appeared slim after Mujuru had seized control of nine of Zanu PF’s provinces – with his high office ambitions only being revived after Grace’s entrance in mainstream politics a few months ago.
After leading a vicious campaign against Mujuru, both Mugabe and his wife have seemingly rallied behind Mnangagwa, with the nonagenarian butchering the party’s constitution to ensure that he gets to decide how the party operates and who works under him.
This is what has caused many analysts to say that the VP contest is now for Mnangagwa to lose.
“Mnangagwa is almost there given that the First Family seems to trust him as someone who can safeguard their interests once in power,” said another politburo member who requested anonymity.
“He has been patient with Mugabe since independence, even when the president seemed to play around with his emotions, promoting and demoting him at will and notwithstanding that in most cases he would have mobilised support for the president,” the politburo member added.
Eldred Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science lecturer, said Mnangagwa was probably in the pounds seats.
However, Masunungure believes that Mnangagwa’s pending elevation would not signify victory for him as Mugabe could use it as a way of watering down his influence in the party.
Masunungure also said the Zanu PF succession fight appeared to be “a three-headed beast”, adding that the factional contest was not about whether Mujuru’s loss would turn into her enemies’ gain, but rather which group would remain dominant.
In his estimation, that group was the Gushungo faction, particularly with Mugabe also widely expected to name Senate president Edna Madzongwe as one of his deputies.
But some insiders also say that it is possible that Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko would be appointed first and second vice presidents – which would leave another aspirant Khaya Moyo in limbo.
On the other hand, Mudenda is also tipped to become national chairman while the outgoing women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri was likely to be rewarded with the post of secretary for administration that is currently held by Mutasa.
This, sources said, would allow Mugabe to make sure that power was centred on him and not others.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said since Mugabe had been given a “blank cheque” to choose who he wanted to work with, thanks to the party’s constitutional amendments, it was difficult to tell what he would do.
“Now that Mugabe is effectively the party’s provinces and also the congress’ delegates, so in the absence of electoral democracy he will obviously consider those that he trusts most to take care of his political and economic interests,” he said.
However, Ruhanya emphasised that the Zanu PF strongman would also consider the future of his young family when he settled for his deputies.
Given that the First Lady had almost become the country’s de facto prime minister, she would also influence Mugabe’s choice, he added.VP contest for Mnangagwa to lose.