As soon as Grace Mugabe returned from her extended Christmas Holiday in Singapore last year she got her G40 factional team together and she took up her meet the rallies from where she had left off. The sole purpose of the rallies was to de-campaign VP Emmerson Mnangagwa who occupied pole position in the race to replace Robert Mugabe as leader of Zanu PF and the country’s president.
Government business came to a complete halt to facilitate the rallies and no expense was spared. ZBC covered the rallies live from start to finish. Grace was the principle speaker and her pitch was simple enough – she would make a better president than VP Mnangagwa. Getting former VP Joyce Mujuru “dumped” from the party to stop her being elected VP in 2014 had been a walk in the park compared to task of forcing Mnangagwa of the pole position in the race to succeed Mugabe!
Although Grace and G40 had the clear advantage of having her husband’s in their corner; they were free to attack Mnangagwa and his supporters under the pretext they were defending Mugabe from those who wanted to force him unconstitutionally out of office. The G40 faction’s greatest weakness was that although they landed countless punches, putting them way ahead on points, it was clear none of the punches bothered Mnangagwa and his supporters.
By the time Zanu PF held its party congress in Victoria Falls in December last year it was clear that the G40 factions was running out of steam and forcing through the resolution that the party must restore the gender parity in the presidium was a desperate effort. The faction’s hope was that Mugabe will then replace VP Mnangagwa with a woman. Why VP Mnangagwa and not VP Mphoko, for example? Everyone knew that sooner or later Mnangagwa will hit back and everyone knew if the punch landed – light out!
The clash between G40’s Saviour Kasukuwere, whom Mugabe had appointed party’s Political Commissar (PC) and Chris Mutsvangwa, who was then Minister for War vets and a known Mnangagwa loyalist, was proxy war between the two factions. G40 members including Grace and Kasukuwere criticized Mutsvangwa and the war vets for demanding that they should be given special consideration because of their liberation war credentials. Even Mugabe chipped in saying the war vets must not “flaunt” their war credential as if they alone fought the war.
Mutsvangwa was stunned by the criticism and called a meeting of war vets to protest. Mugabe stepped in and used the Riot Police with water cannon and tear-gas to stop the meeting.
Since the 2000 referendum on the proposed new constitution which Zanu PF lost the party had used the war vets as its foot-soldiers to intimidate, beat, rape and even murder innocent Zimbabweans to help Mugabe and Zanu PF stay in power. Even a heartless tyrant like Mugabe must have realized that tear-gassing the very people who had been betrayed all they had stood for during the civil war to gratify his selfish greed was a outrage, particularly since he still need their blind loyalty to remain in power. When Mugabe proposed to meet the war vets of 7 April 2016, he was reaching out to appease them.
When the war vets demanded that Minister Kasukuwere must be dismissed as PC ahead of the meeting; Mugabe hit back. He said the war vet association was an “affiliate” organization to Zanu PF and thus could not dictate how the party should be run.
The war vets hit straight back and told Mugabe they were the stockholders in Zanu PF, they go nowhere, and leaders like him were merely the stakeholders who would come and go. In a recent interview General Constantine Chiwenga reinforced the same message saying he was the “stockholder of Zimbabwe”!
Robert Mugabe is a seasoned politician and he knew immediately the game was up for him and the G40 faction.
“Buoyed by recent events in the warring Zanu-PF, the party faction rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa's mooted presidential aspirations are said to be resuscitating their plans to either persuade or cause President Robert Mugabe to retire before the country's eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections,” said a report in Bulawayo 24.
“Well-placed Zanu-PF sources told the Daily News yesterday that the mood within Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction) was ebullient, as the camp felt that it had finally weathered the relentless onslaught that it had experienced from its avowed party foes, the Generation 40 (G40) group, over the past year.”
Of course the Mnangagwa have won the party’s factional war what they will soon learn is that Zanu PF will still have to win free, fair and credible national elections; this is going to be the mother of all electoral battles and the factional war they have just won is a mere skirmish in comparison!
Zimbabwe’s economy is in total meltdown and VP Mnangagwa may be able to end some of Mugabe’s stupid policies like the indigenisation law but to consolidate his own hold on power he will keep all the deadwood behind the mismanagement and corruption, the root causes of the economic meltdown.
Besides having won the factional war with the help of the rogue war vets who believe they have the veto as contrast to everyone else who will have the vote, on who should rule Zimbabwe it is clear Mnangagwa is banking on the war vets helping him rig the 2018 elections.
Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown has resulted in unemployment soaring to 90% plus, millions of our people now live in abject poverty, health and education have all but collapsed, etc. The economic situation is socially and politically unsustainable and the key to ending the economic meltdown is free, fair and credible elections. Zanu PF has never won a free and fair elections; of all people Mnangagwa will know this since he has helped Mugabe rig the past elections; and it will not do so now even with a new leader.
So this is Mnangagwa’s dilemma; hold free and fair elections and lose power after all these years of waiting his turn. Rig the next elections face the music of the social and/or political instability brought on by the worsening economic meltdown! Yes President Mugabe has final lost his iron grip on power but he will have the last laugh over the unlucky Mnangagwa who has not only waited patiently for 36 year to take over the presidency from Mugabe now finds he is inheriting the poisoned chalice!