As Zanu PF factions jostle for power, there is growing fear that Mugabe’s departure will be worse than his presidency.
Mnangagwa was outflanked by a rival faction in the battle to succeed veteran Robert Mugabe in ZANU PF.
The, 63 year old, is a sly politician who has long been touted by the media and his political allies as frontrunner to replace Mugabe as first secretary of ZANU PF, but his star has dimmed since 2004 when he was accused of plotting against his boss.
As The Zimbabwe Mail reported during the recently held Fifth National People’s Congress, a 200 page document detailing plans by the Mnangagwa’s faction to launch a new political formation to rival the group led by retired Army General Solomon Mujuru was secretly circulated within Zanu PF circles.
On Christmas day, a well attended secret steering committee meeting at a farm just outside the city of Gweru was organised by former Information Minister, Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho Professor Jonathan Moyo and the meeting was chaired by former Midlands Zanu PF Chairman July Moyo, sources said.
Also in attendance, was former Zanu PF chairman for Manicaland, Mike Madiro, and Member of Parliament for Mutare South, Fred Kanzama both representing Manicaland province.
Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu came late after attending to a family bereavement in Bulawayo.
Former party Chairman for Harare province, oil mogul and Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development, and Zanu PF MP for Harare South Hubert Nyanhongo also attended and we are told that he was tasked to carry out a massive recruitment drive and play the role of interim political commissar.
Minister of State in Vice President Nkomo’s Office ZANU-PF Hon. Flora Bhuka was the only female in attendence.
We are also told that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa is also involved but only playing a low profile for fear of Robert Mugabe’s reprisal.
The meeting took 6 hours of intense deliberations with Jonathan Moyo taking the opportunity to appraise his colleagues about the detailed plans based on his scientific research and on reflections of what had taken place at the congress and the new game plan.
The Defence Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa himself did not attend, amid reports that he is now under 24 hour survillance by members of the CIO’s close security
The steering committee agreed amongst other things to open secret recruitment bases across all provinces.
They also agreed to set up a strategic retreat base in Cape Town, South Africa and Professor Moyo informed delegates that offices and a guest house had already been bought.
We’re told that the South Africa base will carry out all the day-to-day operational activities in the interim and the guest house will accommodate and entertain members and host foreign diginitaries who will be approached to sell the political formation.
In the recently held Zanu PF’s congress, the main wing led by retired General Solomon Mujuru completely decimated the Mnangagwa faction leaving the man whose closeness to Robert Mugabe earned him the title of ‘Son of God’ in serious danger of losing out on the battle to succeed the dictator as Zanu PF President and First Secretary.
Jonathan Moyo a political scientist-turned politician has assumed the role of Mr. Emmerson Mnagagwa’s chief strategist and he has promised his principal a "remarkable turnaround" in the months to come.
The embattled faction plans to launch a massive recruitment drive within Zanu PF and from both sets of MDC factions and, Mnangagwa — a shrewd political player also known as Ngwenja, or Crocodile has ropped in some disgruntled Zanu PF politicians from Masvingo, the country’s most populous province in the country.
Senior politicians in Masvingo, in the heart of territory dominated by Mnangagwa’s clan, have already ruled out the possibility of supporting Mujuru if and when Mugabe steps down.
"Do you honestly think that Mujuru can lead this country when Mnangagwa is there?" asked one local senior ZANU PF politician.
"Do you think she has the qualities to rule an already fractious country?" the politician went on. "The candidate needs to be a person of steel, someone who will not brook any nonsense."
"It is obvious that Mujuru cannot lead the country – she can only do so with the explicit backing of Mugabe," echoed Joseph Mushipe, who fought for the ZANU movement during the war of independence. "We all know that Mnangagwa should lead the country."
Many of Mujuru’s opponents feel that she owes her vice-presidential post to her husband, Solomon Mujuru, a hard-nosed opponent of Mnangagwa.
Solomon Mujuru took command of the ZANU guerrilla army in 1979 under the nom de guerre Rex Nhongo, and he went on to lead Zimbabwe’s armed forces for a decade after the war ended. He apparently fell out with Mnangagwa when the latter blocked his bid to buy into a lucrative chrome mining scheme.
But the ethnic allegiances of the key players are also a significant factor in this struggle for the post-Mugabe presidency.
Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru both belong to Zimbabwe’s biggest tribe, the Shona. But within this tribe, Mnangagwa comes from a clan called the Karanga, while Mujuru belongs to Mugabe’s own Zezuru clan.
Tensions between the Karanga and Zezuru trace back to the war, when the Karanga provided the bulk of fighters and military leaders for the ZANU movement.
Since power fell into the hands of Mugabe – a ruthless Zezuru intellectual who led the ZANU movement but did no fighting himself – many Karangas feel he has ignored their contribution, sidelined their leaders and promoted members of his own clan.
Zanu PF is heavily divided and given this simmering discontent, Joice Mujuru will have to work carefully to earn the trust of Karanga politicians in the looming battle for succession.