Analysts speak on ZANU-PF infighting


From left, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, President Robert Mugabe, First lady Grace Mugabe and VP Phelekezela Mphoko at ZANU PF headquarters (File pic)

DESPITE the internecine infighting flaring up in the ruling party, ZANU-PF will remain a formidable giant in the country’s body politic, analysts said this week.
Analysts canvassed by the Financial Gazette this week spoke as the former fighters of the 1970s liberation struggle have pitched their political tent in Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp, daring a rival group that goes by the moniker Generation 40 or simply G40.
The current upheavals in ZANU-PF, which has presided over the country’s affairs since independence in 1980, have prompted many to question if the party still commands significant electoral authority, more so with 2018 elections beckoning.
Political analysts believe that the party’s seemingly careless behaviour stems from its dominance of the political field, aided by the weaknesses of the opposition parties.
Opposition parties in Zimbabwe are largely fragmented as to pose a significant threat to President Robert Mugabe’s party.
Previous efforts by the opposition parties to form a grand coalition against ZANU-PF have not been successful because of their divergent ideologies and reluctance to make concessions during negotiations.
University of Zimbabwe political science professor, Eldred Masunungure, told the Financial Gazette this week that ZANU-PF will continue to reap huge rewards from the fragmentation among opposition parties.
“I have little doubt that ZANU-PF remains a formidable political force given that all its electoral rivals are down, and are severely weakened,” he said.
“It (ZANU-PF) might be hopelessly divided and President Mugabe’s calls on factions to close ranks will not be listened to, but due to the fatal weaknesses of the opposition, it will continue to stand tall and will win elections by hook or crook,” added Masunungure.
He, however, opined that ZANU-PF could fragment in the aftermath of President Mugabe.
“This factionalism will continue but the party might not break apart in the foreseeable future because of President Mugabe. The post-Mugabe era is a big unknown, but I will speculate that in that period, there would be a weaker version of ZANU-PF than we have today. He is all what remains as a unifying force and after him, all hell would break loose and the party would disintegrate into small fragments,” said Masunungure.
Unlike the MDC, which has split into several formations since its formation in 1999, ZANU-PF remains intact although raven by internal discord.
Of late, many people are beginning to see signs of the party disintegrating especially after it expelled and suspended more than 200 members for supporting former vice president Joice Mujuru, who was accused of plotting to topple President Mugabe unconstitutionally. Mujuru, who was booted from ZANU-PF because of the allegations, is now interim leader of a new kid on the block, the Zimbabwe’s People First.
Among those to speculate about the possibility of ZANU-PF breaking up has been Cephas Msipa, a former ZAPU stalwart, who played a prominent role in negotiating the 1987 Unity Accord signed between President Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo (now late) to end the disturbances that rocked the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces in the mid 1980s.
This week, political scientist, Ibbo Mandaza, said there was a real possibility of an implosion in ZANU-PF before 2018 which might seal its fate.
Mandaza said the message by President Mugabe when he addressed the million-man march in Harare last week was that no one should talk about succession “and here we have people talking about it immediately afterwards saying Emmerson Mnangagwa was the natural successor.”
He said such open confrontation could see the party implode before the make-or-break polls in 2018.
Mandaza hinted that the former liberation war fighters would not be an easy pushover since they enjoy the backing of some in the army.
Last year, President Mugabe warned the military to stay out of politics.

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