By Richard Chidza
Prospects of a government led by current Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa are looking brighter now than ever before and Zimbabweans must brace themselves for his rule, analysts have said.
But Ngwena [crocodile], as Mnangagwa is known in political circles, is skirting on thin ice. He will have to contend with a few hurdles before he takes up residence at State House.
Since joining Zanu PF’s liberation war council Dare ReChimurenga in 1977 during the anti-colonial war that brought majority rule,Mnangagwa has remained by President Robert Mugabe’s side.
He is one of the longest serving cabinet ministers to date and despite a short break in which he served as Speaker of the National Assembly, the Midlands-born politician is a Mugabe loyalist through and through.
All things being equal, University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Professor Eldred Masunungure says he thinks Mnangagwa is literally a heart-beat away from power.
“His chances are very good. I would put them at over 60%. The probability is high despite the lack of clarity around the Zanu (PF) constitution and Mugabe’s silence on the matter. We should not forget that Mnangagwa has been there and [has] seen everything. He has been by Mugabe’s side for nearly 40 years now and that is a big plus for him.”
He also said China was likely to have a say on who became Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe leader.
“The Chinese remain a major factor in the succession matrix although they may not be the final determinant. I feel they will be a force in the king-making or queen-making job in Zimbabwe. The West, I think, has become impotent and I
am not sure if they will be a factor anymore after the Mujuru fiasco.
“They were implicated in the messy job to parachute Mujuru into Mugabe’s job and she got burnt and burnt badly. So they have tried to wade into the Zanu PF dogfight but the consequences have been devastating, especially for Mujuru and for them diplomatically,” he said.
As regards the economic and governance trajectory that Mnangagwa would take as new leader, Masunungure warned of a dictatorship harsher than Mugabe’s.
“Mnangagwa is more likely to be East leaning in terms of his development trajectory. The Beijing Consensus or Chinese Model of development is likely to be his anchor.
There is already a predisposition towards a market economy from the recent pronouncements made by both treasury chief Patrick Chinamasa and Mnangagwa himself.”
The Standard is reliably informed that Mnangagwa recently told the Zanu PF politburo, following his visit to Belarus that “vanhu vanofanigwa kutongwa” loosely translated to mean “people should be ruled, not governed”.
“This is what is happening in Belarus and we should do it here.It is working,” Mnangagwa reportedly said.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya,however, said Mnangagwa’s chances were slim and probably as good as those of axed former vicepresident Joice Mujuru in the race to succeed Mugabe.
“Mnangagwa’s chances are as good as the likelihood of Mujuru taking over from Mugabe. His chances are not certain at all. We can never be sure. It is not a given because there are contestations and contradictions already in the party.
“Mujuru was in a better position; she had political mass, was elected at congress while Mnangagwa was appointed. He is weaker and probably the weakest of all the country’s vice-presidents thus far. Mnangagwa can be disappointed
overnight,” Ruhanya said.
He said a Mnangagwa presidency would not be much different from Mugabe’s 35 year-old rule, unless Zanu PF went
through a metamorphosis.
“What matters is not the individual but whether the whole institution is ready to reform,” Ruhanya said.
Ibbo Mandaza a publisher and political scientist agreed and went even further to indicate that the fight for Mugabe’s
throne was very much still on.
“Things are fluid at the moment;far from definite. The dynamics within Zanu PF and the State are so fluid that it is very difficult for anyone to predict what will happen. A Mnangagwa presidency is also extremely dependent on whether Mugabe decides to leave office and when he decides to do so,” Mandaza said.
He said that both the national and party constitutions were vague on the processes that would take place if Mugabe were to die in office or decided to resign.
With reports that both the West and the East, especially China, seem to be warming up to an inevitable take-over by Mnangagwa,Mandaza said Zimbabweans should vigorously campaign for a return to legitimate political contestation.
Mandaza warned of an impending implosion.
Diplomatic sources claim a group of envoys commonly referred to as the “Fishmongers” that comprises ambassadors
from Australia, Britain, the US,Germany and the European Union had accepted that Mnangagwa would take over from Mugabe and are already in hushed preparations for a post-Mugabe era.