By Paidamoyo Muzulu
Embattled Vice-President Joice Mujuru has to make tough choices to either fight from within or leave Zanu PF as chances of retaining her post are getting slimmer by the day, analysts have said.
Last week, the Zanu PF politburo expelled war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda and suspended party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo alongside four provincial chairmen, dealing a major blow to Mujuru’s chances of retaining her post as President Robert Mugabe’s second-in-command.
The deposed chairpersons are Jason Machaya (Midlands), Andrew Langa (Matabeleland South), Amos Midzi (Harare) and Callisto Gwanetsa (Masvingo). The quartet joins another Mujuru ally, Temba Mliswa who was jettisoned from the Mashonaland West provincial chair last month.
The suspended Mujuru allies are accused of fanning divisions and attempting to block First Lady Grace Mugabe’s rise as Zanu PF’s women’s league boss.
Four other provincial chairpersons have an insecure future as relentless efforts are being made to relieve them of their duties. These are Ray Kaukonde (Mashonaland East), Callistus Ndlovu (Bulawayo) and Luke Mushore in Mashonaland Central. On Saturday a vote of no confidence was passed on John Mvundura of Manicaland province.
Just a month ago, Mujuru had nine out of 10 provinces in the bag while her bitter rival, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa had one.
Other Mujuru allies in the firing line include politburo members Didymus Mutasa, Webster Shamu and Tendai Savanhu.
Political scientist Eldred Masunungure told The Standard on Saturday that last week’s politburo decision dimmed Mujuru’s chances of retaining her position in both party and government.
“She has reached the end of the road. When you have your people strategically placed being removed without due processes, you should expect that undue process will be unleashed against you as well,” said Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
“What happened shows the determination to get rid of her. The end justifies the means.”
Masunungure said Mujuru should struggle from within and look at her other alternatives — if they exist.
He warned that the wars against her may shift to another arena such as Parliament.
Another political analyst, Shakespear Hamauswa concurred that Mujuru was technically finished, only that “she still has some allies yet to be kicked out”.
He said Mujuru should remain within the party while testing the waters towards congress.
Midlands State University lecturer Nhamo Mhiripiri said Mujuru can “stay in until congress but with her continued loss of support in the politburo she will be a sitting duck”.
He added: “The other option is for her and suspended colleagues, if they see no political future in Zanu PF, to form a breakaway party.”
Hamauswa said if possible Mujuru has to quit before congress.
“But if she quits again without forming her own party what would happen to those who got party positions including cabinet posts through her ticket? It’s just hell falling on VP,” he said.
But Masunungure warned that breaking away from Zanu PF would be politically unwise for Mujuru and “the surest ticket and shortcut to political oblivion”.
“Zanu PF will come hard on her. She has to fight from within. She still has more than 20 years ahead. A lot of things may happen in politics,” he said.
“It’s only that her elevator is going down and Mnangagwa’s is going up but it will come to a stop at some time.”
Another political analyst, Tamuka Chirimambowa said “they [Mujuru and company] have to pull out of Zanu PF and cause holding of by-elections and consider becoming one of the oppositions or even forming a coalition government after the elections”.
The position, Chirimambowa argues, depended on them being prepared to face Mugabe’s wrath and if they could survive without benefits of political patronage.
“Therefore the only logical thing in my view is for Mujuru to brave the cold outside Zanu PF just like [Julius] Malema braved the cold outside the ANC,” he said.
Masunungure said Mujuru’s allies such as Gumbo can call it quits rather than wait for the lapse of his five-year suspension.
He said the sentence on Gumbo was a light one as he had gone through worst experiences during the liberation struggle.
“If he was a footballer, he would hang his boots,” Masunungure said.