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Zimbabwe crisis is sapping Zanu-PF's supremacy

by Staff reporter
24 Aug 2020 at 07:38hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S political and economic crises that have gone on for two decades are weakening Zanu-PF's hold on power and could soon have dire consequences on the ruling party, one of the country's leading analysts has warned.

Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday, Eldred Masunungure - a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe - also said the country's seemingly intractable problems were being complicated by Zanu-PF's fluid and unpredictable internal dynamics.

At the same time, he said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's tentative attempts to end Zimbabwe's myriad challenges would not succeed until he included regional liberation movements in the efforts.

This comes as political tensions have remained high in the country, amid a ginormous economic crisis which has stirred anger and restlessness among long-suffering Zimbabweans.

Masunungure said the continued failure by the ruling party since the late 1990s to resolve Zimbabwe's challenges now threatened to cause a total collapse of Zanu-PF - which would have serious ramifications for the country.

"If the crisis is not resolved quickly and decisively through some mediation, it will most likely resolve itself via self-implosion (of Zanu-PF), although I doubt that this will be at the level of the State and society.

"In other words, I don't envisage a civil war as some tend to fear. The implosion will be at the level of the regime and it appears the fermentation process in this regard is already under way courtesy of intra-regime contradictions.
"To most people, this fermentation is already visible to the naked eye," Masunungure told the Daily News On Sunday.

"As I have tried to explain many times, the tragedy of Zimbabwe is the tyranny of a single truth which makes Zimbabwe unripe for internally-sourced solutions at this juncture.

"And there are too many spoilers on both sides of the political divide, with too many vested interests.
"In this context and at this historical juncture, and sadly so, it is well-nigh impossible to find an internal solution,"Masunungure further told the Daily News On Sunday.

"This puts the onus first on the region and secondly on the continent. It is also clear, on the basis of history, that the political leadership in this country is receptive (to advice) when it is massaged behind closed doors.

"This was the logic behind (former South African President Thabo) Mbeki's quiet diplomacy. The lower the decibels and the less the public visibility, the greater the chances of success of a mediatory effort.

"And, because the Zanu-PF leadership believes that ‘good' people were born only in the crucibles of the liberation war, it may be compulsory to source such a mediator or mediators from the ranks of former liberation movements," Masunungure also told the Daily News on Sunday.

This comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ascended to power via a popular military coup, has come under growing pressure from long-suffering Zimbabweans over his government's failure to mend the country's broken economy.

It also comes as there are widening fissures in Zanu-PF, which was split in the middle during the last few years in power of the country's late former president Robert Mugabe - who was toppled from office by the stunning military coup in November 2017.

Last week, Zanu-PF sacked two politburo members - Cleveria Chizema and Tendai Savanhu - for allegedly showing disloyalty to the former liberation movement and its leadership.

During Mugabe's last few years in power, Mnangagwa was involved in a hammer and tongs war with the Generation 40 (G40) faction which had coalesced around the nonagenarian's erratic wife Grace.

The vicious brawling took a nasty turn when Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his rivals during one of Mugabe's highly-divisive youth interface rallies in Gwanda in 2017.

The then VP's fate was eventually sealed on November 6, 2017 when Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant a few days after his allies had booed the irascible Grace during a tense rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.

However, tables were dramatically turned on Mugabe when the military rolled in their tanks on November 15 of that year and deposed the long-ruling leader from power - which saw a number of alleged G40 kingpins fleeing into self-imposed exile soon afterwards.

But despite Mnangagwa's ascendancy to power, some ambitious bigwigs in the former liberation movement continue to stand accused of plotting to unseat the new Zanu-PF leader.

Elaborating on Zimbabwe's worsening crises in his interview with the Daily News On Sunday, Masunungure also

said the challenges were proving to be difficult to resolve for Zanu-PF.

"Anyone, inside or outside the country, who has tried to decipher the nature of the Zimbabwe problem would immediately conclude that it is very complex and - so far - intractable.

"It is a very fluid, fast-changing, multi-faceted crisis that defies easy characterisation. That's why many who have tried to tackle the problem have thrown in the towel.

"South Africa, particularly, needs to deal with the crisis very sensitively because of the spill-over effects in terms of the migration problem which is already a huge one for South Africa.

"Another complication is the vulnerability of Ramaphosa in the context of liberation war credentials," Masunungure told the Daily News On Sunday.

"There are many in Zanu-PF and the … government who might not regard Ramaphosa as a liberation warrior in the mould of Mbeki and (another former SA president, Jacob) Zuma and, therefore, that he does not possess the liberation war gravitas.

"I am sure that South Africa can go far beyond infamous ‘quiet' or ‘soft' diplomacy' engineered by Mbeki.
"In short, South Africa can best ally with fellow former southern African liberation movements to jointly speak truth to Mnangagwa and his government.

"I think this is a diplomatic resource that has not been fully harnessed," Masunungure further told the Daily News On Sunday. This comes as Ramaphosa has appointed special envoys - former South African vice president Baleka Mbete and ex-ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi - to try and end Harare's decades-long crisis.

The appointment of the envoys came after authorities were accused of gross human rights violations, following the government's heavy deployment of police and soldiers to thwart the foiled July 31 mass protests.
S A President, Cyril Ramaphosa

Masunungure further told the Daily News On Sunday that while Ramaphosa had done a commendable thing in sending his emissaries, he had also appeared not too sure of how to tackle the Zimbabwean issue.

"In my view, Ramaphosa's action (of sending envoys) was unavoidable, but appears to have been ill-prepared.

"Given the avalanche of loud and persistent criticisms against President Mnangagwa and his government's handling of the planned protests/demonstrations - and from virtually all concerned quarters domestically, regionally and internationally - it was mandatory that … Ramaphosa does ‘something' or be seen even symbolically to be doing something.
"Unfortunately, it appears as if the envoys had a mandate that was as clear as mud, hence the confusion over what they were really supposed to do," Masunungure told the Daily News On Sunday.

"The labelling of the team as ‘envoys' also didn't help matters because ordinarily, an envoy carries a message to be delivered to a recipient. Such a person is not a negotiator or arbitrator.

"Therefore, as I see it, it was both necessary and compulsory for Ramaphosa to send the envoys, but he should have given them a less ambiguous mandate," he said further.

A decade ago, both Mbeki and Zuma helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition giant Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe - who are both late - following the hotly disputed 2008 presidential election. Zuma also assisted in minimising Zimbabwe's chaotic approach to the equally disputed 2013 national elections.
Source - Daily News