HARARE – Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is tipped to succeed President Robert Mugabe, will find the going tough against opposition parties as he lacks grassroots support and has no social base, analysts have said.

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Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa: Picture – Believe Nyakudjara

With former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies ostracised from the party, and with Mugabe increasingly looking frail, Mnangagwa has emerged as the front runner to take over but will most likely face stiff resistance from the electorate even within Zanu PF.

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Pedzisai Ruhanya, a political analyst, said despite Mnangagwa’s experience in politics, he will not win any national election as he does not have the full backing from Zanu PF.

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“Despite all the politricks that Mnangagwa has mastered over the years, I posit that without securing the social base of Zanu PF in Mashonaland provinces where there is despondency in the rank and file of the authoritarian party following the removal of Mujuru, Mnangagwa as a Zanu PF candidate may not win an election.

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“Just being a crocodile without a social base is baseless and that the crocodile can use even rigging may not help. Simply put, the crocodile is unelectable as the president of Zimbabwe. Even other reptiles may not be party to his cause,” Ruhanya argued on facebook.

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International Crisis Group’s southern Africa project director Piers Pigou added that Mnangagwa has a history of struggling in elections but said his party machinery is capable of mobilising votes during elections.

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“Mnangagwa has a history of struggling to secure popular support as evidenced by election results over the years,” said Pigou.

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“With the Zanu PF party machine behind him, his profile will certainly be enhanced, but whether that translates into willing organic support, especially from amongst those predisposed to his deposed predecessor, is another matter. Nevertheless, the party machine has demonstrated it can mobilise votes when it needs to, even if this leads to questions about manipulation and coercion,” he added.

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However, Dewa Mavhinga, a political analyst and a human rights advocate, said Mnangagwa will win any election because Zanu PF uses violence to coerce the masses to vote for them.

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“Historically, Zanu PF has not been ‘winning’ elections through charisma or campaigns but through brute force and intimidation. Therefore the question is not whether Mnangagwa has charisma to win elections, he clearly does not; the question is whether he can marshal the infrastructure of violence to serve his interests. And its seems Mnangagwa may be able to control and monopolise violence to win elections,” said Mavhinga.

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“And Mnangagwa’s capacity to control all Zanu PF structures including Mashonaland provinces equally depends on his capacity to control and deploy state instruments of violence as was done ahead of the December Zanu PF congress that deposed Joice Mujuru.”

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Mnangagwa has a history of electoral defeats. In the 2000 parliamentary elections, he was defeated by Blessing Chebundo of the MDC in the battle for Kwekwe constituency, but Mugabe appointed him as one of the unelected MPs in Parliament.

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In the March 2005 parliamentary elections, he was again defeated by Chebundo in Kwekwe, and Mugabe again appointed him to an unelected seat.

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However, in the March 2008 parliamentary election, he stood as Zanu PF’s candidate in the new Chirumanzu-Zibagwe rural constituency and won by an overwhelming margin, receiving 9 645 votes against two MDC candidates, Mudavanhu Masendeke and Thomas Michael Dzingisai, who respectively received 1 548 and 894 votes. Daily News