Zanu (PF) battle lines drawn

HARARE – Battle lines have been drawn between rival Zanu (PF) factions ahead of what political analysts see as an explosive annual conference to be held in Mutare next month and whose outcome will change the fortunes, shape and future of the revolutionary party.

The complex saga of President Robert Mugabe’s succession has taken a new twist as one of the factions led by Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is believed to be behind the new campaign to have the President Mugabe declared President for life.

This has been seen as a move aimed at scuttling efforts by the former army commander Solomon Mujuru faction which is eyeing taking control of the party. If adopted, the move will be a direct blow to the Mujuru faction which has, since last year’s conference, been strategizing effectively to gain control of the key party positions in the Women’s and Youth Leagues as well as gaining ground in the party supreme law making body the Politburo.  

A witty, calculative and strategist par-excellence, Mnangagwa is tipped to be the obvious candidate to take over from the ageing Mugabe. Some top Zanu (PF) officials  are convinced that the recent pronouncements by the traditional Chiefs, the Women’s and Youth league to have president Mugabe declared president for life are part of a grand plan aimed at silencing the Mujuru faction ahead of the party’s conference.

The Annual Chiefs’ retreat held in Kariba recently grudgingly ascertained to Mugabe’s plan to have him crowned president for life, a move political observers say sets the tone for the December meeting. A Zanu (PF) legislature, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the plan was to include the life term on the agenda and use the conference to endorse it.

“I think the plan is to have President Mugabe retained to maintain party unity ahead of the talked about elections next year. Because if any of the two factions emerge victorious at the conference this will tear the party right through the middle and obviously that will be like handing power to MDC-T. So this plan is part of that grand initiative to marinating party cohesion. If Mugabe goes the party will disintegrate,” said the parliamentarian.

A political lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe political administration department said Zanu (PF) was faced with a problem of its own creation.

“The fact that we talk of the Mnangagwa and Mujuru faction is a clear indication that the party has no plan on who would lead it should Mugabe leave today. The two factions are eyeing that day when he leaves to take over but they have no capacity to unite or even lead the party and that is causing nightmares,” he said.

The succession issue has remained a closely guarded affair within the rank and file of Zanu (PF). – The Zimbabwean