Analysts said on Friday that a palpable fear of a still popular former vice president Joice Mujuru, as well as President Robert Mugabe’s urgent need to anoint a trusted successor were behind her summary expulsion from Zanu (PF) this week without her facing disciplinary proceedings.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera said that Mujuru’s expulsion from the ruling party was “the work of Machiavellian schemers in the (Emmerson) Mnangagwa camp”.
“Their calculation is that Mugabe is on his way out. They see that given his health and advanced age, it’s only a matter of time (before he vacates his position), hence they want to make sure that there is no serious threat when he is gone, to make sure that Mujuru is left with no legitimate claim to the throne.
“The is meant to completely finish her. What I am not sure of is whether this marks the end of her political career as this will depend on the choices that she will make.
“If she is courageous enough to join opposition forces, despite the many threats hanging over her head ranging from treason to corruption, she will gain sympathy. (Opposition leader Morgan) Tsvangirai is what he is today because he gained sympathy from being a victim of Mugabe’s autocracy.
“Mujuru too can benefit from Zimbabwe’s sympathy of victims of Mugabe’s autocracy. She has the potential to forge a successful coalition with other forces,” Mangongera said.
Southern Africa Senior Researcher for Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga, said Mugabe was “clearing the path for himself to choose a successor” at the disputed December 2014 Zanu PF congress where Mujuru was deposed as deputy president of the party.
This, he argued, made her expulsion at Thursday’s politburo meeting “pointless if not vindictive”.
“Mujuru’s expulsion shows that the Zanu PF leadership is pre-occupied with petty and peripheral issues of dealing ruthlessly with perceived internal enemies when the economy is in the intensive care unit.
“What ideas are coming from Zanu (PF) on how to finance Zim-Asset, reviving the economy and improving people’s lives? Of what national benefit is Mujuru’s expulsion?
“These petty actions expose a clueless political leadership that now majors in minor issues while minoring in major issues. Things are falling apart and the centre can longer hold,” Mavhinga said.
Top academic Eldred Masunungure said Mujuru’s expulsion showed that Mugabe was retreating from the centre of political power.
Masunungure, a senior lecturer in the political science department at the University of Zimbabwe, said the ruling party’s move was a clear indicator that she was a threat to power which is now centred on Mugabe’s wife Grace and vice president Mnangagwa.
“Mugabe is retreating from the centre of political power by pushing forward his wife or Mnangagwa. His view however is that as long as Mujuru is within Zanu PF, Mnangagwa and Grace may not be able to consolidate power.”
“She represents a threat to Grace and Mnangagwa as long as she is in Zanu PF because she is also a real centre of power,” Masunungure said.
He said the decision to fire Mujuru could have been influenced by Zanu PF’s victory in the Mt Darwin by election.
“They used this as a test case. They felt confident they could get rid of her because they believe they can do the same countrywide,” he said adding; “Whether that analysis is correct can be debated.”
Masunungure said the situation was dynamic and the outcome could not easily be determined.
He added; “There will be consequences but I doubt that the move will see the party emerging stronger.”
Former Zanu PF spokesperson and liberation war veteran Rugare Gumbo said the future of Zanu PF was turning “increasingly bleak” as a result of the actions of some of its supposed leaders.
“There appears to be a strategy to smash dissent once and for all. But what they don’t appreciate is that Mai Mujuru has entrenched herself among the people. Mai Mujuru has a bigger vision for the nation and she wants democracy and total liberation of the masses.
“She wants to create employment, stablise the economy, attract foreign investment by creating an enabling environment where investors are confident that if they invest their money, they will get returns.
“Mai Mujuru is also a humble simple woman of integrity. She wants to bring all democratic forces together. She wants to work with war veterans war collaborators, rural folk, professionals, farmers and intellectuals,” Gumbo said.
He added that the post congress Zanu PF was “a party consisting of pseudo revolutionaries who don’t follow their own constitution”.
“How do you have a disciplinary committee deciding on the fate of a party member without affording her or him the right to be heard?
“It is undemocratic, unconstitutional and unprocedural. The Zanu PF that took power in 2014 is a total write-off. Now our strategy is to make sure that people have a functioning economy, jobs, quality education, health and a better life. The expulsion is therefore a small battle.
“The bigger issue is to democratise Zimbabwe and ensure observance of human rights. That’s what we are fighting for and we have support from the grassroots. We are going to make sure we work with all democratic forces in Zimbabwe, the academics, war collaborators, students, communities, everyone.
“We are also prepared to work with opposition parties such as Mavambo, Dumiso (Dabengwa) and even the MDC, anyone prepared to do away with this illegitimate Zanu PF for the good of the Zimbabwean masses,” Gumbo said.
But former opposition figure-turned-vociferous Mugabe supporter, Gabriel Chaibva, said if a party cadre did something which violated the party’s system of doing things, “you are subject to disciplinary proceedings”.
“It has nothing to do with clearing the political path for anyone,” he said.
The Zanu PF Politburo expelled Mujuru from the party on Thursday evening on the back of a battery of untested allegations against her including plotting to oust Mugabe from power and assassinating him, as well as gross corruption, indiscipline and dishonesty.
All in all, at least 10 allegations were raised against the former V, among them fanning factionalism within the party and orchestrating the infamous 2008 ‘Bhora Musango Campaign,’ that saw Mugabe being defeated by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in that year’s presidential ballot.