International observers must be finding it difficult to make sense of Robert Mugabe’s firing of his Vice and personal assistant since 1976, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the opportunity that this presents for a democratic outcome in Zimbabwe.
There is no mystery; Mugabe is rushing to pack in what he can of his succession plan before he shuffles off to meet his maker, and one element that he needed to ensure was to eliminate Mnangagwa from the succession.
His wife and the so-called G40 – a grouping that planning to ride Grace’s petticoat tails into state house, would not have been able to stop Mnangagwa once Mugabe had passed on.
They needed Mugabe himself to eliminate Mnangagwa from the line up before he passed on, and they have succeeded, though they underestimated his resourcefulness and resistance which is now galvanising all sections of Zimbabweans.
War veterans had already started gravitating towards the opposition alliance, which is music for the opposition whose members and supporters in rural areas are being intimidated by party youths whom Mugabe has now substituted for War Veterans as his gendarmes.
But armed with only their training in cruelty, without an ideological understanding of what they are fighting for, in the battle for hearts and minds they are no match for the seasoned political commissars who were in the war for independence.ZANU PF supporters in populous Masvingo and the Midlands who have never felt part of Mugabe’s inner circle which benefited from corruption have now been totally isolated, having been told by both Mugabe and his tactless wife that they don’t really count.Even those in the Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces have now been so exposed to the corruption that is driving Grace Mugabe’s naked ambition. Her lack of class that makes her unqualified even to teach preschool has been on display for all to see.
In fact Zanu PF now has only one elected provincial chairperson…the rest are not from the people but from Harare.
The way one Zimbabwean journalist put it; she insults everybody left right and centre at her rallies, yet as soon as she gets booed at a rally those people are dragged to court for undermining the authority of the President. She is not even the President!This abuse of power has now galvanised even more cross-sectional opposition to Grace and the First Family, with even so in opposition now supporting the incarcerated ZANU PF youths who booed Grace.
It is difficult to see how ZANU PF can win the upcoming election, unless it resorts to its traditional method of election rigging and intimidation, both of which are undermined by Mnangagwa and Lacoste’s absence, and the increasing confidence of the opposition and non-governmental organisations in demand transparency in the electoral process.
At the same time the arrest of a 25-year-old American, Martha O’Donovan, has started focusing international attention on the Zimbabwean government’s efforts to control social media ahead of the elections.
But by far Mnangagwa has benefited from public sympathy because of how he was fired and how heroically he seems to have evaded capture. Latest reports are suggesting that his son was nearly killed in a head-on collision – the regime’s weapon of choice.
Mnangagwa’s escape and defiant statement have immediately promoted both Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC Alliance and Joice Mujuru of the Rainbow Alliance to say that they would work with him if he wanted to join the opposition, despite ambivalence expressed by their members.Despite Mnangagwa’s baggage in the form of his role in human rights violations, he is receiving sympathy partly because of the way Mugabe regime has started scurrying around for charges against him – the same way they do with opposition activists when they are trying to neutralise them.
The speed with which charges against Mnangagwa have been framed has left Zimbabweans wondering whether the law was only reserved for those who don’t support Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa is now wanted on sedition charges, an alleged murder of a woman, the attempted murder of former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news presenter Godfrey Majonga, looting of Zanu PF companies and murders associated with Kwekwe goldfields deals. Suddenly the CID are said to have already started interviewing witnesses.
As far as most Zimbabweans are concerned Mnangagwa’s biggest crime was Gukuranhundi, for which he is not being charged, and for which he and most senior ranking ZANU PF officials, including the G40’s choice of Mugabe’s successor, Sidney Sekeramayi, had command-and-control responsibility.ZANU PF has hitherto rejected all suggestions by the opposition for a truth and justice process or a genuine reconciliation process, but the current conflagration might present an opportunity as war veterans, Mnangagwa, Joice Mujuru, and others who are still being expelled from ZANU PF all seek absolution and relevance in a new political dispensation.
Those who have suffered losses because of Gukurahundi and other political violence cannot easily countenance working with unrepentant Gukuranhundists and other perpetrators of political violence. They are angry and want to see them locked up.But this can only happen if they are able to stop the First Family or the G40 at the next election.Nobody wants a coup or a takeover by the military which would create another unaccountable government. So the nation is coalescing around the idea of stopping the Dynasty, but Zimbabweans also know that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is compromised and can only be controlled or monitored if we also have people in there who know how the system is rigged.
So the need to work together has become an imperative, paramount in the national interest and in the selfish interests of politicians – framework for working together that would have to involve parking the human rights issues.Peace and human rights organisations can easily draft agreements that those who want to work together would have to sign that they will abide by a judicial process that will be undertaken by the new government after elections.
But for now, there is an opportunity for Morgan Tsvangirai, Joice Mujuru, Mnangagwa and the War Veterans, the newly disenfranchised Lacoste, and all their aligned political activists to unite and pull Zimbabwe back from the precipice. The APAs APOs and the Renewals and others would be advised to be selfless and join up with the others for the sake of Zimbabwe.
The window is short, ideally by Christmas they should have meet and agreed criteria for passing a verdict on the voter registration exercise and the efficacy of the election preparations.
Their demands for international monitoring of the election should also be made now so that a signal can be sent to the international community that Zimbabwe is open for monitoring – because it takes several months for election monitoring missions to be organised.
The government should be left in no doubt that this is the voice of Zimbabwe, not some fractured opposition.
By Makusha Mugabe