By Prince Tongogara
The road to Zanu (PF) Congress inside a fortnight has been littered with political casualties all from the Vice President Joice Mujuru’s faction at the instigation of the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, who wants political power at all costs including reconfiguring the party and rewriting the liberation struggle history.
Grace’s entrance on to the political scene despite her failure to meet Zanu PF’s criteria for national leadership proved that rules and regulations mean nothing in the quest of retaining power and building a Mugabe dynasty. It also meant that those opposed to sexually transmitted leadership were going to be collateral damage in the fight to retain power. The Zanu PF regulations call for people to have served five years as provincial executive members before being eligible for national office.
Grace, who never held any post at any level in the party, came onto the scene as a rattled political novice in August. She is now paranoid as at every turn she spits venom against perceived enemies who want to challenge her husband at the congress. She has taken the country back to dark ages of 2000 when the terms ‘sellout’, ‘enemies of the state’ and ‘stooges of the West’ could mean physical danger and a dramatic end to political career for many an opposition activist.
However, her relentless, abrasive, uncouth and unprecedented attacks on perceived internal enemies within Zanu PF left many baffled many. Many have been shocked by her husband’s silence and sadly concluded Mugabe is using his wife to do his hatchet job.
Grace’s attacks have left a wake of collateral damage in the party. Mujuru has become the centre of her attacks and many party leaders in the politburo, provinces and cabinet have been scathed with some now confined to the dust bin just a fortnight ahead of the party’s sixth congress.
The devastation has been tenfold bigger than the 2004 aftermath of the infamous Tsholotsho declaration. When President Robert Mugabe felt threatened by Emmerson Mnangagwa and Jonathan Moyo’s Dinyane meeting that spelled the reconfiguration of Zanu PF and Mugabe’s certain political sunset, six provincial chairpersons among them Daniel Shumba, July Moyo and Jacob Mudenda were summarily suspended from the party. Mnangagwa was sent to the political Siberia of National Housing and Social Amenities while Jonathan Moyo was expelled from the party.
Fast forward a decade later and Mujuru and her allies are reeling on the ropes as Mugabe has perfected the preemptive strike strategy against his enemies. By last count nine of the ten provincial chairpersons has been removed from office through well-choreographed ‘votes of no confidence’, an MP was suspended, a politburo member suspended and several put on notice.
The nine provincial chairmen who will not have a seat at the congress are Temba Mliswa (Mashonaland West), James Mushore (Mashonaland Central) Ray Kaukonde (Mashonaland East), Amos Midzi (Harare), John Shumba Mvundura (Manicaland), Jason Machaya (Midlands), Kalisto Gwanetsa (Masvingo), Andrew Langa (Matabeleland South) and Callistus Ndlovu (Bulawayo).
Rugare Gumbo party secretary for Information and publicity was suspended without any hearing while war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda was summarily expelled.
Other senior provincial leaders like Sheila Uyoyo, Constance Shamu, Enoch Porusungazi, James Kaunye and Elliot Kasu have also been ‘baby dumped’.
Even after such decimation of the provinces Grace is now directing her fire on cabinet ministers and politburo members. Her allies in the form of youth, women and hired war veterans are calling for the immediate suspension or expulsions of Mujuru, Nicholas Goche, Didymus Mutasa, Dzikamai Mavhaire, Webster Shamu, Flora Buka, Olivia Muchena, Francis Nhema, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Tendai Savanhu.
The entire list above is accused of fanning factionalism, plotting Mugabe’s ouster at the congress or more shockingly blocking Grace’s ascendancy as the Zanu PF women’s league boss. However, the truth of the matter is they are Mujuru allies and have to pay the price for ambition and pragmatism that that succession should be finalised at this congress.
The collateral damage continues to rise and is slowly becoming unsustainable as more than enough leaders have been alienated by Grace’s conduct. Whoever wins and the outcome of the stage managed congress will have to deal with reunifying the party or it will simply split.
A split will temporarily bring instability as Robert Mugabe even at 90 will be more vicious as he struggles to maintain his hegemony and cement life-presidency. The state media is already in overdrive on smear campaigns and laying the grounds for possible political persecution of ‘enemies’ for the contrived charges of corruption, treason and abuse of office.
If Grace remains unrestrained, Zimbabwe will be on the brink of an implosion and a rebirth as Zanu PF and the state is reconfigured. For now Mugabe has the upper hand but the dark clouds of uncertainty due to rising collateral damage has sown insecurity and uncertainty to both Zimbabweans and the international community.