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Mnangagwa expulsion, the implications for Zimbabwe

07 Nov 2017 at 15:10hrs | Views
Mao Tse-Tung or more popularly known as Chairman Mao, the founding father of the People's republic of China, ruled as chairman of the Communist party of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. His fourth wife, Jiang Qing served as his personal secretary before getting married to him. At the height of the cultural revolution Jiang Qing or Madam Mao as she was better known held significant influence over the affairs of state. She worked her way using her husband's influence and gained a seat in the politburo. To entrench her influence, in the Chinese Communist party she established a political faction within the Chinese political system that came to be known as the Gang of four. This Gang of four controlled state institutions and became largely responsible for all the counter- revolutionary activities within the government of China. Before Mao died, the gang of four controlled key political institutions that included the media and propaganda. It was however not a secret that Madam Mao derived all her political power and legitimacy from chairman Mao and would clash with members of Chairman Mao's government. Mao's death in 1976 brought her political career to a screeching halt. She was arrested for treason together with her colleagues, sentenced to death which was later commuted to life in prison.

Grace Mugabe and the gang of three -Joining the dots

Parallels can be drawn from the above synopsis with what is currently obtaining in Zimbabwe, in particular within the ruling political party, Zanu PF.  Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for the better part of 38 years. His legacy is littered with unfulfilled promises and now a leadership that has been taken over by a young ambitious wife who will not stop at anything to succeed him. With the use of party members that have sworn complete allegiance to her she has come up with a political faction similar to the gang of four, which she calls the ‘G40'. This ‘G40' faction now controls significant civil political institutions like the media and central committee. Grace Mugabe derives her power from her marriage to the president, Robert Mugabe. In his old age she has managed to usurp all authority which she has used to purge all perceived or real ‘opponents' that would succeed her husband. By proxy, her gang of three, namely Saviour Kasukuwere, the national commissar for ZANU PF, Professor Jonathan Moyo, the current higher education minister and Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe's nephew. These are the gang of three that quarterbacks the power ambitions of Grace Mugabe.

Grace Mugabe a blessing or a curse

Expulsions in the ruling party ZANU PF are not new. Fissures in ZANU PF have been in existence for a long time. The so called ‘Lacoste' led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, ‘G40' led by Saviour Kasukuwere and ‘Gamatox' at the time lead by former vice president Joyce Mujuru have existed as factions within ZANU PF for a long time. The factions are a result of a bottlenecked political party that has had no movement upwards since independence. Successive vice presidents have come and gone, but Mugabe has remained in place.  The factions are symptomatic of a political party that refused to change its leadership at the apex. A political party in which one man has been the alpha and omega of the party. The arrival of Grace Mugabe on the political scene has been the catalyst that ZANU PF needed for things to happen. Of course, her intention was never to fix Zimbabwe or ZANU PF, but to secure power for herself. The collateral benefits to Zimbabwe of her rantings at rallies are the expulsions. Grace Mugabe has presided over the expulsion of Former Vice President Joyce Mujuru and her close colleagues notably Dydmus Mutasa, Dzikamai Mavahire, Rugare Gumbo and many others in 2015. She also presided over the expulsion of National Liberation War Veterans leader chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa and thirteen youth leaders from the ZANU PF party in 2016. In her fight to wrestle the women's league seat she presided over the expulsion of Secretary for finance in the women's league, Sarah Mahoka and deputy secretary Nomthandazo Eunice Moyo. But it is the expulsion of Emmerson Mnangagwa that will redefine the trajectory of Zimbabwe's politics.

Expulsion of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the implications
Following a series of interface youth rallies that attacked and embarrassed Emmerson Mnangagwa, the country's vice president, Mugabe expelled him from the position of the Vice Presidency. Ordinarily, Mugabe, the Machiavellian Mugabe of yester year will not have expelled Emmerson Mnangagwa. The expulsion of Emmerson Mnangagwa is a result of pressure from Grace Mugabe and her gang of three. They feared Mugabe passing away with Emmerson Mnangagwa at such close proximity to power. You see, whilst the source of Grace Mugabe's power and her followers is derived from a Robert Mugabe presidency, Emmerson Mnangagwa's power base is institutional. He has allies and support in the Army and intelligence services. And lately Mugabe has been making decisions without consulting the service chiefs. Mugabe in his normal Machiavellian ways would never do that. The service chiefs acknowledge the value of Emmerson Mnangagwa, having worked with him for many years in both the army and intelligence services. He was Mugabe's salvation when Morgan Tsvangirai trounced him in the 2008 elections.  He is key to ZANU PF winning the elections next year. He presides over two key constituencies, Masvingo and Midlands. He is key to cordial relations between Mugabe and the Joint operations command. And he knows that in as long as Emmerson Mnangagwa is alive and a free man, his wife will not hold power securely. In his old age Robert Mugabe has become an emotional politician. His anger outburst at the Bulawayo interface rally is instructive. By expelling Emmerson Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe has radicalised ZANU PF. All those members previously expelled will now rally around Emmerson Mnangagwa, seek leadership and bring back to the people of Zimbabwe an authentic ZANU PF with an accountable leadership.

2018 elections may not happen
As I write this piece, tension is high within the armed forces. I hear an instruction to be on standby has been given to barracks across the nation. The instruction is a state of readiness to defend the nation from bad decisions made by an old man that potentially will render the country ungovernable. The expulsion of Emmerson Mnangagwa also brings into perspective what the opposition have been saying for a very long time. That is, a level electoral playing field. It is no secret that ZANU PF has always had an upper hand in Zimbabwe's elections. The odds have always been staked against the opposition, both in reality on the ground and by operation of law. A captured traditional chief's institution has always assured that a majority of rural folks vote for the chiefs' choice. State resources have always been at the disposal of the ruling party for election purposes.

There is a growing disquiet within the army regarding the general direction of the country. It will not be possible for Grace Mugabe and her gang to secure the allegiance of the service chiefs. In fact, I see the army interfering in the politics of Zimbabwe to create a Lesotho scenario. Emmerson Mnangagwa is one of their own. They know that after Emmerson Mnangagwa the purging will come knocking at their door. The under currents to Emmerson Mnangagwa's expulsion are already bubbling. The intervention of the army will create enough chaos to trigger regional and international intervention. SADC, AU and possibly the United Nations have to come to our rescue and assist in the running of our electoral process.

 This will give all players the opportunity to present or re-present themselves to the people of Zimbabwe for elections. The current advantage of incumbency will vanish. It is highly probable that Tendai Biti's transitional authority may gain traction and popularity at this point. Whatever the order of events, there is one certainty, the politics of Zimbabwe would have changed for ever. Any politician seeking public office will have to show their merit for it.

How popular is Emmerson Mnangagwa?
The recent events playing out in Zimbabwe have resulted in a wave of sympathy for Emmerson Mnangagwa. For those truly seized with what sympathy can do as political capital would remember that Morgan Tsvangirai rode on a popular wave of sympathy after he had been butchered by Robert Mugabe.  Political sympathy is an important form of political capital. All key institutions in Zimbabwe and the citizens in general sympathise with the unfair treatment Emmerson Mnangagwa has received from Robert Mugabe and his wife. The Emmerson Mnangagwa associated with the Gukurahundi is not the Emmerson Mnangagwa who received a standing ovation when he arrived at a Bulawayo stadium. Since he has been Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has proved himself in more ways than one. When he held the Minister of Justice Ministry he refused to execute those sentenced to death despite calls by Mugabe to do so. As vice president he has presided over efforts to resuscitate the agricultural sector through his command agriculture initiative. The command agriculture initiative has seen many indigenous farmers being very productive through his support. It is nonsense to believe claims by Grace Mugabe that she birthed the idea of command agriculture. As vice president we also have seen relations with China improve and investment from the Russians and the Chinese have become more visible in the mineral sector. In the Midlands region, Emmerson Mnangagwa was instrumental in stopping farms that were key to agricultural and milk production from being invaded. Most importantly, he has worked and he has shown the rest of the world that he is the man to take over from Robert Mugabe. He has received endorsements from Westminster, Capitol hill, the Russians and the Chinese. This is instructive.

One key constituency that has been ignored by Robert Mugabe, Grace Mugabe her gang has been the people of Zimbabwe and the opposition. Incrementally the Mugabe's have adopted an attitude of ownership over the people of Zimbabwe. Mugabe's coronation of his wife over and above other capable citizens will be met with resistance as it amounts to a Mugabe dynasty. No Zimbabwean has an appetite for anymore Mugabe leadership. Zimbabwe's opposition is in comatose following Morgan Tsvangirai's illness. Emmerson Mnangagwa finds himself in a unique position where he can reach out to the opposition and offer guidance on how to navigate the ZANU PF terrain in the interest of a better Zimbabwe. Whatever trajectory our politics take, the expulsion of Emmerson Mnangagwa has radicalised ZANU PF and changed the politics of power in Zimbabwe and we need to brace ourselves for the bumpy ride.

Lloyd Msipa is the Co-founder of Africa Public Policy Research institute (APPRI) a UK based think tank. He can be contacted at

Source - Nomusa Garikai
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