Grace Mugabe Turns against Mnangagwa

Now Daily Analysis

Zanu PF kingmaker Grace Mugabe is now locked in mortal combat with her husband president Robert Muabe’s heir apparent Emmerson Mnangagwa in what many see as the party’s endgame.

Grace Mugabe’s charge that ‘Ngwena’, as Mnangagwa is known in party circles, is planning a coup against the ageing dictator was predicted well in advance, making the cunning vice president a moving target.

As early as January 2015, just a month after Mnangagwa led the charge to supplant his then main rival in the party and Grace’s sworn enemy, Joice Mujuru, from her post as vice president, it was predicted that he would soon be a victim of his own success. The Zanu PF whistle blower website Zimbabweans for Prosperity, which has sources in the intelligence services, reported that coup charges were being framed against Ngwena.

Mnangagwa, who has survived previous demotions and humiliations from Mugabe, seemed well aware of his precarious position. He told the London-based New African magazine that being made vice president was not an automatic passport to the presidency. He was right on that point but kept secret his own dark manoeuvres to land the top post.

What Grace Mugabe and others did not count on was the unprecedented backing Ngwena would get from China and Russia, the powers that matter when it comes to choosing African presidents. With Mugabe incontinent because of his advanced age and illness, Beijing and Moscow are looking for sufficient stability to continue looting the country’s diamonds, platinum and gold as well as consummate the numerous infrastructure and supply contracts they have wrought out of Harare. Mnangagwa is a familiar face to these foreign power brokers, having acted as Mugabe’s front and the Zanu PF representative when he was party secretary for finance.

Mnangagwa’s distinct advantage is that he is more educated than Mujuru, well-informed, ruthless when it comes to the crunch and ready to play Zanu PF’s rough and tumble power game. That is why, unlike Joice Mujuru, he has neither been paralysed nor slowed down by the latest accusations from Grace Mugabe. Instead, he has dismissed the allegations privately as the ‘ravings of a mad woman’. Besides, he has known Grace Mugabe for a long time. He was already a minister and party ‘chef’ when she was a mere typist in the president’s office and recently helped her rise to the powerful post of politburo secretary for the women’s league.

Within Zanu PF, there are many hawks who have sprung to Ngwena’s side, not because they like him, but because they fear a repeat of the devastating fallout that accompanied Joice Mujuru’s departure. The messy way in which Grace Mugabe handled the Mujuru dethronement has left the party in turmoil. Mujuru’s People First movement may not go far, judging by the dismal performance of Zimbabwean opposition parties historically, but she and her fellow renegades have made the point that they will not go down alone. They are bringing the temple down, which is undesirable to Mugabe and those who are hoping to grab power from him.

For the record, Mugabe has lost control of the real Zanu PF. He no longer commands the respect of the old guard which founded the party and committed the war-time and post war atrocities that made it a formidable force. It is those faceless mafia-type gangsters who are still calling the shots from the shadows and telling Mugabe what to do. These are the ageing party thugs who want the status quo to continue as long as they can loot whatever state resources are still on offer.

Grace Mugabe is way out of her league to dethrone Ngwena or become president herself if Mugabe goes unceremoniously, as the new plan is panning out. Unlike Mujuru, Mnangagwa does not only control the military. He also controls the intelligence services and has an octopus-like grip on the economy, having built up a massive, legitimate business empire when he was Zanu PF finance secretary. Toppling Mnangagwa without a proper game plan would upset the apple cart for Grace Mugabe herself and all those around her, including wannabes like Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew and indigenisation minister with palpable presidential ambitions of his own, as well as party commissar and Gang of 40 faction leader Saviour Kasukuwere.

Despite the public taunts, Mnangagwa remains the man to watch for the Zimbabwean presidency. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change is in disarray, with its leader Morgan Tsvangirai too busy trying to sort out his rebellious wife, fend off sex, corruption and violence allegations which cost the party vital Western funding.

In fact, Western diplomats are paying more attention to what is happening within Zanu PF than outside following Tsvangirai’s phenomenal 2013 electoral loss and refusal to step down, which splintered the MDC-T. And within Zanu PF, Mnangagwa still rules the roost as Grace Mugabe scrambles desperately for capable foot soldiers to wage war against him, after she sent her former hooligan in chief Godfrey Gomwe packing. Grace Mugabe’s battle, it seems, is just beginning.

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