HARARE – President Robert Mugabe, who has been on a working visit to the Far East, will today fly into a storm, seeking to heal a widening rift over disputed internal elections.
The 89-year-old is expected to jet in today ahead of a politburo meeting called for tomorrow to deal with the nasty fallout from provincial elections held in three provinces.
The internal polls held so far have been won by officials aligned to a faction fronted by vice president Joice Mujuru, sparking a dispute by losing members aligned to a faction led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Mnangagwa faction has been lobbying politburo members to nullify the results.
Mugabe has since postponed elections in the remaining seven provinces which were supposed to be held tomorrow to make way for the meeting.
Party members hope tomorrow’s politburo meeting will stop the bickering and mudslinging which has been spewed through the media.
A senior party official told the Daily News: “The main objective of those who called for the meeting is to stop Mujuru but that will be very difficult to do because she has a very strong social base which Mnangagwa does not have.”
The official preferred to remain anonymous.
He said some party heavy weights were not keen on seeing Mujuru get the top position because they would automatically lose their jobs.
“This is why we have a the ‘Mugabe 5-year term’ faction fronted by security chiefs that want to see him finish his five year term because they know that once Mujuru comes to power, they will lose their jobs,” he said.
Another highly placed source said the bickering and infighting was one grand plan to ensure that Mugabe stays in power.
“Mugabe is enjoying the show because it will keep him in power until he dies, which is exactly what he wants,” he said, adding: “The more people try to stop Mujuru, the more popular she gets.”
Ibbo Mandaza, a respected political analyst, said in assessing any political factor, personality or even a group, one has to take into account the social base that supports him or her.
“The concept of social base is important in assessing a person’s political standing in any society,” he said.
Mandaza added: “The social base factor also determines whether a given political faction is a force to reckon with or just a mere shadow.”
But Shakespeare Hamauswa, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer recently, said having a solid social base alone will not secure Mujuru’s position.
“Look at the case of the just ended election, people expected Tsvangirai to win because he had a social base but that was not the case,” Hamauswa said.
Hamauswa said although Mnangagwa was perceived to be unpopular; he could still scheme his way into power.
“There are rules of power that a politician should apply and Mnangagwa is very good at that but at the same time Mujuru has good advisers who seem to be doing a good job,” he said. “Although Mujuru will not struggle to get support, she should not relax because one can always use one’s own craft to obtain power.”
State controlled media this week attacked faction leaders whom they accused of trying to drag them into their wrangle.
So intense are the divisions that some members have since beefed up security following death threats.
Although the storm has been brewing for a number of years, it has now reached alarming levels ahead of next year’s elective congress likely to determine who will succeed the octogenarian leader and represent Zanu PF in the 2018 elections.
The contenders to the most powerful post in the party are therefore battling to gain control of the provinces which play a pivotal role in the endorsement of presidium candidates.
According to the Zanu PF constitution, any endorsement for a position in the presidium requires the vote of at least 6 out of the 10 provinces.