By Sij Ncube
HARARE, September 22, 2015 – FORMER Sports minister Andrew Langa is probably licking his words after President Robert Mugabe summarily fired him from cabinet last week but analysts say Mugabe’s ruthless dismissal of the legislator confirms the Zanu PF’s leader’s vindictiveness against perceived political opponents.
There are claims Langa was shown the door for allegedly being a side-kick of former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who has intimated she wants to challenge Mugabe in the next elections tentative set for 2018.
Although Langa’s removal was a foregone conclusion after his three-year suspension from Zanu PF early this year over allegedly over Mujuru links, questions abound why Mugabe kept him in his cabinet for so long.
Mugabe failed to fire him during his first, second and third cabinet reshuffles, only axing him three days after his latest reshuffle in which the Insiza legislator was replaced as sports minister by Mberengwa legislator and former broadcaster Makhosini Hlongwane.
While debate and speculation continue over why it took Mugabe long to fire Langa, analysts say the 91-year old leader probably swayed by his wife Grace, who they claim has a stronghold on Mugabe and hates Mujuru with passion.
The analysts further claim Mugabe, still battling to deal with factionalism in the party, used the delayed dismissal of Langa to send a message that he does not brook any succession plan nuisance, and the timing of his firing was intended to humiliate him and other like-minded party functionaries.
Mugabe continues to pursue his politics of vindictiveness in Zanu( PF), government and the country as a whole, critics claimed.
But sympathisers of the Matabeleland South politician maintain Mugabe stabbed Langa in the back, conveniently forgetting that he delivered the first seat for Zanu (PF)in Matabeleland South in early 2000 in the Insiza by-election.
At the advent of the MDC in the 2000 polls, the entire Matabeleland region became a strong-hold of Morgan Tsvangirai’s party but since Langa’s entry the seat has been in the pocket of Zanu PF.
But Langa’s sympathisers have been quick to remember that in politics they no permanent friends, saying it is the opportune time the former minister licked his wounds and contemplated his political future.
Gladys Hlatywayo, a Harare-based political analyst, said Mugabe being a vindictive person in nature, does not take lightly differences of opinion.
“His (Mugabe) personal traits particularly his vindictiveness and failure to accept criticism have shaped Zanu(PF) politics for a very long time. Those who do not agree with him as a person are labelled rebels and such other names and therefore not Zanu(PF). There must be a distinction between the leader of a party and the party,” she said.
Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson for Tendai Biti’s party, said the fact Mugabe dilly-dallied in axing Langa shows high levels of confusion on the Zanu (PF) leader.
“They are keeping people they do want in ministries and they are also not helping the economic situation,” said Mafume.
Maxwell Saungweme, another political analyst, said the continued purging in Zanu (PF) and government is a sign of a president who has grown paranoid and is very insecure.
“The problem of factionalism and divisions in Zanu(PF) cannot be solved by firing individuals from ministerial positions or from membership of the party. To rid his party of the fissures he needs to address the real elephant in the house-the issue of succession,” he said.
“He failed as a leader to groom a successor or develop a succession plan. Now his failure to do so is leaving him to the mess of conspiracies by those hoping to replace him. Being old as he is its fool-proof that some mental faculties no longer function properly and as a result he is being taken advantage of by scheming people in his party.”