Zanu (PF) in turmoil: Plot to unseat Mugabe gathers momentum

HARARE –The embattled former ruling party Zanu PF is in turmoil amid reports of sweeping tensions, rebellion, and open defiance by senior party leaders cranking up plans to press President Robert Mugabe to step-down citing concerns over his waning influence in the region and domestic political arena where he appears to be out-foxed by his rival the MDC leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal.

On the back of worrying health problems, President Mugabes standing in the region has taken a huge tumble in the last few months and his loyalists now have doubts on his ability to salvage his Zanu PF party. Zanu PF is now viewed by fellow regional liberation movements as a pariah, prompting escalation of bitter infighting and plots to unseat him.

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Last night, a senior party official anonymously revealed to our reporter that tensions are at breaking point since the death of veteran party founder Edgar Tekere last week, and this has been fuelled by President Mugabe’s catastrophic failure to influence proceedings at the SADC Heads of States Summit in South Africa where his plea for rejection of the Livingstone Troika Report fell on deaf ears.

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At the summit in Johannesburg South Africa on Sunday, SADC Heads of State maintained their tough position as outlined in the damning Livingstone Troika report, and they backed mediator South African President Jacob Zuma, in his pursuit of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

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They went further with a resolve to send representatives who will be co-opted in the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee as monitors, a move that has ruffled feathers in Zanu PF.

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When Mugabe went to the summit, he had promised his increasingly impatient supporters and military generals that he would use his weight to influence his counterpart; in particular on issue to do with security reforms, and hence he was forgiven for missing Tekere’s funeral, but his spectacular failure has sparked renewed tensions and open challenge to his position by those vying to succeed him.

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Our source said, for the first time Mugabe is now viewed as a lame duck in Zanu PF. They see him weaker and vulnerable. Those in the army and State security agencies who have committed atrocities on his behalf are beginning to panic and forcing him into doing things bordering on desperation and clumsy.

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Under fire, hawks in the party faction led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who are in overall control of GPA affairs; ahead of the SADC summit worked out plans to force a reversal of the hard-hitting Livingstone report, which savaged the party for violations of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and they came back with egg in their faces.

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However, this has backfired and our source said daggers are now drawn out on President Mugabe and plots to force him to step down now look a real possibility amid reports of bitter recriminations spilling from the ill-tempered politburo meeting that saw Tekere declared national heroes last week.

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When President Mugabe left South African on Sunday, members of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction stayed behind and on Monday, they held a secret meeting in Pretoria. It is alleged that Professor Jonathan Moyo was tasked with plans to revive the Zanu PF split strategy.

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In 2009, ahead of the Zanu PF Fifth National People’s Congress, The Zimbabwe Mail report exposed the existence of a 200 page document detailing plans by the Mnangagwa faction to launch a new political formation to rival the group led by retired Army General Solomon Mujuru.

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That detailed document has already been secretly circulated within Zanu PF circles and on Monday, the faction re-ignited those plans after watching their strategy thwarted at the SADC Summit.

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The faction is running a secret office in South Africa where most of the hatchet plans are worked out and they have since agreed to step up activities of forming a split movement.

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Meanwhile, as President Mugabe and members of the Mnangagwa faction attended the SADC Summit, we can reveal that the rival Zanu PF faction led by retired General Solomon Mujuru seized on the opportunity presented by the well attended funeral of popular veteran liberation war hero and Zanu PF founding member Edgar Tekere who was buried in Harare on Sunday.

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The source said most of the members of the Mujuru faction attended Tekere’s funeral and used it to rally their call for the party leadership renewal.

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At the funeral, weeping party members most of whom participated in the liberation struggle challenged senior party members present to do something about the party that they said was now being held hostage by President Mugabe and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa whom they say where holed up in comfort in Mozambique when they toiled in the war front.

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We can also reveal that secret meetings took place during and after the funeral and the crucial one was held on Saturday evening at a farm in Ruwa, 20km outside Harare, details of which are still sketchy, but our source said a sizeable number of party provincial chairmen attended and agreed on a plan to easy out President Mugabe before the next general elections.

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The source said political skulduggeries and plots to call for an extraordinary party congress are already under way and are being sold out to key part members and those in the military and State security agencies.

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On Sunday night; by the time President Mugabe arrived from South Africa, he had already been briefed by members of the State intelligence on the goings-on at Tekere’s funeral and our source said a stunned Mugabe lunged on an embarrassing, suicidal mission to mislead his party supporters that SADC had rejected the Livingstone Troika Report even when the SADC Communiqué said the opposite. Other Zanu PF officials have maintained that position in a desperate bid to contain a fragile situation in the party.

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Mugabe’s latest antics of saying things not in the Communiqué have not gone down well with some senior party members who feel that his actions are now damaging the party in the region as it appears to undermine the work done by SADC Heads of State.

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Meanwhile, some hawks in the party aligned to Mugabe himself are urging for an immediate complete withdrawal from SADC and repudiation of the GPA followed by a call for elections this year.

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In another development, President Mugabe is said to be no longer on speaking terms with his vice President Joyce Mujuru who has been literally barred from acting as President when Mugabe goes abroad since the turn of this year.

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In the Zanu PF succession dynamics, there are so many individuals and factions vying to succeed the 87 year old Zimbabwean leader and each of those factions has a control and influence on members of the army and other arms of the State security, hence there is no outright frontrunner.

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So far, the faction led by former army General Solomon Mujuru has an upper hand as Mujuru’s wife, Joyce Mujuru has the influence in the grass roots of the party but she is now clearly side-lined in the State media.

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At some point, Mujuru appeared to be a clear cut favourite to succeed Mugabe because of her seniority within the party hierarchy and also because of her husband’s military power within army ranks, but her rival Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has hired shrewd strategists marshalling the violent campaign against the opposition a tactic that has brought them closer to President Mugabe.

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Zanu PF has failed to manage its succession plan and this has left the party with very few options either to allow Mugabe to die in office and create an opportunity for a military coup, but with the escalating disenchantment as witnessed at the funeral of Edgar Tekere, there appears to be direct challenge on him as well and his waning influence in the region could be the one that breaks the Camel’s back.

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Mnangagwa is the current Minister of Defence, a strategic post, which allows him to whip political opponents into line.

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However, Solomon Mujuru is a tried and tested, army commander who still commands loyalty from the side-lines and this presents an enormous challenge for Mnangagwa.

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However, analysts argue that both Mugabe and his party are now so unpopular that the succession is something of a non-event, as the MDC-led by veteran trade unionist Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai looks more likely to win the next general elections.

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