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Zanu-PF congress: Fireworks expected

by Staff reporter
24 Oct 2022 at 18:33hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa will storm into next week's Zanu-PF elective congress seeking to tighten his grip on power as his age is likely to trigger a fierce succession debate.

The ruling party holds its watershed congress from Wednesday to Saturday next week with political observers noting various unresolved issues that Mnangagwa needs to handle as he faces Nelson Chamisa and his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) formation in next year's harmonised elections.

Mnangagwa, who succeeded late former president Robert Mugabe through a coup in 2017, has been accused of failing to unite the party in the post-Mugabe era.

The current Zanu-PF leader vanquished a faction known as the Generation 40 (G40) which was fronted by Mugabe's wife Grace with support from former cabinet members Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere,

Patrick Zhuwawo, Walter Mzembi and several others.

While reports have been awash of a rift between Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, (66), the two are expected to unite ahead of the elections so that the ruling party consolidates its power.

The two leaders, who have shown unity in public, are, however, reported to be clashing, with indications that Chiwenga is gaining ground as Zanu-PF leader ahead of Mnangagwa.

However, political observers have indicated that Chiwenga would rather stand behind Mnangagwa than challenge him.

Mnangagwa has also been on a drive to consolidate his grip on power in Zanu-PF following a flurry of organisations registering as Zanu-PF affiliates although party national commissar Mike Bimha is on record saying these were not involved in mainstream party activities.

The affiliates that have mushroomed ahead of the congress and received with glee by Mnangagwa include YoungWomen4ED, YoungFarmers4ED, Teachers4ED and several others.

Chiwenga is, however, believed to have strong backing from the security forces, although these would also wait to see Mnangagwa run his race if he wins the elections next year.

Dynamics defining the expected gamesmanship at the upcoming congress will include whether the party's second secretary Kembo Mohadi will be reappointed at the congress after resigning as state vicepresident last year over allegations of sexual indiscretions.

The issue of the second state vice-president will test Mnangagwa's statesmanship as he prepares for the elections next year.

Political observers and party sources contacted by the Independent since last week said Mnangagwa would be expected to perform a Houdini act at the congress next week especially when appointing his vice-presidents and politburo members.

"In the scenario that Mnangagwa wins the election next week, he is expected to name a second vice-president to serve under him with Chiwenga but the questions remain on whether he will remain aloof and not appoint anyone like he did when Mohadi was forced to step down.

"Mohadi lost the moral ground to assume the VP's position after his shenanigans were exposed and we do not expect Mnangagwa to let that post remain vacant. Mnangagwa would also be in a quandary on whether to have Mohadi continue as party vice-president and second secretary while he appoints another person as state vice-president," a source in the ruling party said.

The appointment of the party and state vice-president has also led to intriguing conspiracies and reports, with many senior Zanu-PF leaders touted to be among those who Mnangagwa could catapult to the powerful position.

Names being thrown around in Zanu-PF circles include, but are not limited to, party national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri, politburo members Tshinga Dube and Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda while ZDF commander Philip Valerio Sibanda comes in as an outsider.

While Muchinguri, who also holds the powerful Defence and War Veterans Affairs portfolio in cabinet has a good chance of assuming the state VP position, the 1987 Unity Accord could stand in her way.

The December 22 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu provides for the appointment of an ex-Zapu member as one of the two VPs. Muchinguri hails from Manicaland and is not an ex-Zapu member.

"Historically, all those who have been Zanu-PF national chairpersons after the Unity Accord have reason to be state VP except for the late Simon Khaya Moyo who was a victim of the factions leading to Mugabe's ouster. Joseph Msika and John Nkomo are good examples especially when we consider the gentlemen's agreement in the Unity Accord where the VP comes from the former PF-Zapu while the women's quota system also saw the rise of Joyce Mujuru in her heyday.

"The national chairman's position and women's quota in the presidium could work in Muchinguri's favour. Firstly, Mugabe ditched the chairman's chances of assuming the VP position when he appointed Phelekezela Mphoko and Mnangagwa to the positions," another source said.

The observers also noted that appointing Muchinguri to the VP's position while ditching the former PF-Zapu members could cost Mnangagwa dearly in Matabeleland.

The PF-Zapu factor introduces the debate on who could come from that sphere of influence with Dube, Mudenda and Sibanda fitting into the matrix.

Dube held senior positions in the PFZapu and while many other leaders are not playing major roles in Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF politics, this could play to his advantage. But according to sources, the former Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) boss may be incapacitated due to alleged health problems.

Source - The Zimbabwe Standard