President Robert Mugabe’s game plan for the million-man march was to shut the door on his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa and present a picture of invincibility — a review paper by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) says.
In the paper titled “Zanu PF million-man march: Mugabe’s game plan” ZDI, a respected political and economic think tank, said it was clear that faced with internal revolt, the nonagenarian leader would choreography his most ardent supporters to hold a march similar to the year 2007 when the party was also going through almost similar internal upheavals.
Zanu PF between 2007 and 2008 can be likened to the attendant situation characterised by fissures in all organs of the party,” notes the paper.
In 2007 just like now, Mugabe was facing revolt from a faction that was led by the late Solomon Mujuru, and now the 92-year-old strongman is facing dissent from supporters of Mnangagwa — who want him to pass on the baton before 2018 elections.
“The 2016 march has occurred in almost mirror circumstances to that of 2007 where there is growing discontent within Zanu PF.
“The latest march is not about the youth or Zanu PF it is more about . . . Mugabe himself that those who seek to succeed him should not underestimate his popularity within the party,”
A purge of the Mujuru faction in 2014 that is now led by the wife Joice, failed to cleanse the party of the factionalism ailment — something that Mugabe is still battling with even today
On Wednesday, Mugabe’s increasingly powerful wife Grace told party loyalists that her husband would rule from the grave, and the nonagenarian went on to describe those fanning factionalism that their actions are tantamount to “treason”.
After a nasty fallout with war veterans, his usual shock-troopers, Mugabe this time turned to the party’s youths — who embody the governing party’s ambitious generation 40 (G40) faction that is opposed to Mnangagwa’s rise.
“These marches also serve to show that despite his advanced age . . . Mugabe is still the only game in town. It is about Mugabe stamping and cementing his authority in Zanu PF.”
Under Mugabe’s watch Zimbabwe is groaning as the economy tumbles, cash is in short supply and millions are faced with starvation.
Analysts say conditions in the country are ripe for disaster — and ZDI said the solidarity march in support of Mugabe was a timely boast to the 92-year-old ego.
“The May 25 march comes as fundamentally a reactionary agenda to both internal and external challenges bedevilling the party and its leader.”
According to the report, the march was about showing rival factions that despite his advanced age, he is still popular in Zanu PF”.
“It also sought to react to opposition protests amid a regressing economy being presided over by Zanu PF.
“As Zanu PF is already in the 2018 election mode, this march served to show that despite growing discontent between war veterans and . . . Mugabe, the party can do without them and rely on the youth to deliver victory.”