With embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa remaining under the cosh in the warring post-congress Zanu PF, insiders and analysts alike say the Midlands godfather is getting a taste of his own bitter medicine as his party enemies plot to replace him with a woman.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources were adamant in interviews with the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa, who is facing an ignominious demotion from both his party and government positions, was the “chief architect and ultimate beneficiary” of the humiliating fall from power of former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
And just as former Presidential Affairs minister and former close confidante to President Robert Mugabe, Didymus Mutasa, has asserted, the insiders claim that it was the beleaguered VP, then Zanu PF’s secretary for legal affairs, who tinkered with the party’s constitution last year to give Mugabe unfettered powers, including appointing his deputies — instead of having them elected by provinces as was the practice previously.
“Ngwena (Mnangagwa) is a victim of his own unbridled ambition and machinations. His schemes are coming back to haunt him as the sole centre of power, president Mugabe, now has the power to appoint anyone he wants as his deputy.
“The dreaded hunter crocodile has now become a hunted tame lizard,” a Zanu PF central committee member, who is seen as opposed to the VP, said unsympathetically.
Following recent demands by the Zanu PF women’s league, egged on by the party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) — who are rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa — Mugabe is under pressure to appoint a woman vice president, with the under-pressure VP the most likely casualty of this move if it materialises.
“For Mnangagwa, it is more than a case of the chickens coming home to roost. A lot of what is happening to him and his supposed supporters is a result of the Frankenstein monster that he helped to create in his bid to pip Mujuru to the presidency of Zanu PF in the event of Mugabe’s demise.
“He and his allies are fast realising that indeed those who appoint can also dis-appoint, with them being the victims,” political analyst and civic society activist Macdonald Lewanika told the Daily News yesterday.
Lewanika pointed out that Mnangagwa was guilty of cultivating a “patently undemocratic culture and way of choosing leaders in the party”, and not realising that with Mugabe having the sole authority to appoint, “no one can ever be secure in their place because rather than serving at the pleasure of congress, with clear terms, they will be serving at the pleasure of the president”.
He also accused Mnangagwa of having effectively destabilised Zanu PF’s key pacts such as the Unity Accord of 1987.
“This settlement was destabilised when Mnangagwa and his allies decided to go for broke by purging Mujuru and her supporters, setting up the current party contest for a winner-takes-all showdown which is not informed by either constitutionalism or democratic practices.
“That being the case, the fluidity that exists in the lawless hunt for ascendancy to the presidency is now beginning to drown some of its architects, including those who like crocodiles were expected to be able to swim rather than sink in it,” Lewanika said.
He predicted that Mnangagwa’s allies would remain under the cosh “for as long as the manner and practice of politics in the party is undemocratic and subject to the whims of self-interested people”.
United Kingdom-based law lecturer, Alex Magaisa, said events of the past few months within the warring ruling party pointed to the fact that there were some bigwigs who were being targeted by First Lady Grace Mugabe and that this had been manifest when she addressed her numerous rallies around the country.
“I think we are seeing a familiar pattern here where public rallies are used to mobilise people against targeted rivals. It’s easier to work through mobs than in committee rooms,” Magaisa told the Daily News.
“Even if they don’t get Mnangagwa removed, they will probably purge his top allies, leaving him exposed,” he added.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said like what happened in the Mujuru debacle, the G40’s tilt at Mnangagwa was a sign that Zanu PF was fractured and no longer functional.
“The biggest losers in all this are Zimbabweans whose whole year was stolen by Zanu PF’s factional and succession fights that spilled over to crippling the functioning of the government.
“We have all been reduced to victims of fights in a party most don’t belong to,” Saungweme said.
Many erstwhile comrades of Mnangagwa have also been rubbing it in by inviting him to join the “original” Zanu PF that uses the slogan People First.
Mutasa told the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday recently that it appeared “all over bar the shouting” for Mnangagwa in the brawling ruling party — further advising the Midlands godfather to “smell the coffee, repent and join People First while there is still an opportunity”.
Mutasa, who was expelled from the post-congress Zanu PF, along with other liberation struggle stalwarts such as Rugare Gumbo and Mujuru, also said sarcastically that “what goes around comes around” — accusing Mnangagwa of having master-minded the ruling party’s constitutional amendments that precipitated last year’s chaos in the former liberation movement.
Probed further to elaborate on his claim that Mnangagwa had worked secretly and alone to effect Zanu PF’s constitutional changes last year, he claimed that this was “public information”.
“I was not aware of the constitutional changes. Emmerson is now being hoisted by his own petard. He is the one who wrote the constitution and he has himself to blame.
“I wish him well, but his problem is he likes to bury his head in the sand like an ostrich,” Mutasa said, adding “Haanzwi. Dai achibvunza vamwe (He does not listen to others. If he asked others) we would tell him what to do”.
“He should have asked those who were in that situation before him. That is what an astute leader does. Not to just say I will only listen to July (Moyo — Zanu PF deputy secretary for administration and his key ally).
“He should think about the people he went to the struggle with, those he shared prison with. If I was him I would have consulted others,” Mutasa said.