By John Chimunhu|
Now Daily Feature|
Like all dictators, Robert Mugabe is an unpredictable man. So, the problem for his underlings is knowing when he needs them to perform some dirty task for him and when it is time to run for their lives.
The attempted assassination of former CIO boss and labour minister Nicholas Goche this week, allegedly on Mugabe’s orders, is illustrative. So is the mass failure by high-profile politicians to get seats in the all-powerful Zanu PF central committee. Many of the politburo members who “fell by the wayside” – to use Zanu PF parlance – were stung by the violence and rigging that accompanied their downfall. But then, that is to forget the common saying in the party, “Zanu ndeyeropa” (Zanu PF is founded on murder and bloodshed). Another saying, which was a song often sung eloquently by discredited vice president Joice Mujuru goes, “mbiri yechigandanga ndombiri yatinayo”, meaning, “Zanu PF is notorious for violence/terrorism”.
So, it did not surprise many people when violent thugs aligned to the president and his busybody wife Grace went around the country disrupting central committee elections. The choreographed ‘demonstrations’ mostly by youthful hooligans claiming allegiance to the nearly 91 year-old despot were clearly a violation of the rights of the party officials concerned. More importantly, they proved that Mugabe does not respect the democracy which he strenuously preaches every time he rigs a national election or appears at some international forum.
Former MDC minister and MP, Jameson Timba, said it was a good thing that Mujuru and all other henchmen of the dictator were learning the hard way about the danger of Mugabe’s disrespect for democracy.
“I hope those in Zanu PF who are being denied the right to contest for central committee positions by rowdy youths now appreciate the need for democratic change in the country and the legitimacy of the call by opposition forces for the opening up of democratic space in our politics,” Timba said.
Political analyst Blessing Ivan Vava said the blunder by Mujuru and her crew was their failure to grasp where power lies in Zanu PF.
“Power resides in Mugabe, the supreme leader, the Ayatollah,” Vava said. “The biggest mistake was the naivety to think Zanu PF is a democratic party and that they will vote at their congress. What is now obtaining is that there won’t be any election after all.”
Added Chofamba Sithole, another analyst:
“It’s an indictment on the Mujuru camp that they failed to foresee Mugabe tearing the rule book and deploying the might of the state to (shape the party) to his tastes.”
On Wednesday, the Zanu PF politburo adopted far-reaching changes to the party constitution, whose sum effect was to give Mugabe total control of both party and state. Taking credit for the changes was the Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who drafted the amendments.
The changes are breathtaking. There will no longer be elections in Zanu PF, except a token vote for the party president, who will then appoint all politburo members. Like Eddison Zvobgo who, in 1987, crafted the constitutional changes which made Mugabe executive president with sweeping powers, Mnangagwa may have written this week’s amendments for himself. In the event that Mugabe died and he became president of both party and country, such immense powers could be crucial in maintaining order in the disintegrating party.
But then, in the rough and tumble of Zanu PF politics, nothing is ever certain. The only constant is Mugabe himself.
A few weeks ago, Mnangagwa was being touted as Mugabe’s choice for one of the vacant vice president’s posts. The justice minister went around the country introducing Grace Mugabe to all the powerful people in the party structures.
Mrs Mugabe confirmed that her husband had manipulated the process to make Mujuru vice president when Mnangagwa enjoyed popular support from the grassroots in 2004. She praised him for remaining loyal in the face of such abuse.
“Mugabe has now settled for Mnangagwa,” political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute said at the time.
This week, the situation is different. Mugabe has attained what he wanted: destroying the Mujuru camp, which was becoming too powerful and brazenly corrupt. He has also secured the constitutional changes which cushion from growing dissent within the ranks.
Mugabe no longer needs Mnangagwa and can afford to discard him the way he dumped Zvobgo soon after he drafted for him the powers that made him all-powerful.
The signals coming out of State House are that Mugabe will appoint someone with no political clout, someone who will depend entirely on the president to function. Mnangagwa could become just another hanger-on, whose real purpose is to drive the crowds to rallies and polling booths when the dictator wants them.
In short, Mugabe can function alone.
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