HARARE – With the economy on its knees and government having been forced by reality to introduce the controversial bond notes, a respected South Africa-based think tank says the walls are now closing in on President Robert Mugabe and his hangers-on.
In its latest report, the Oxford linked African Economics (NKC) predicted Zanu PF’s demise before the eagerly-anticipated 2018 elections.
The think tank pointed out that currently, Zanu PF is at its weakest due to factional fights, adding that the economic woes will be a final blow to its existence.
Unlike in 2008, when Mugabe lost elections to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, only to win a presidential run-off in controversial circumstances, the think tank said the ruling party is more divided with the divisions extending even to state institutions and therefore cannot stand in 2018.
“The decision by central bank chief John Mangudya to introduce what amounts to a ‘play money’ version of the US dollar, as well as new measures to severely curtail withdrawals, suggest Zimbabwe is edging closer to the brink of a new currency crisis,” NKC said.
The think tank added that the situation could “herald significant instability in the country”.
“As the cash shortages spark panic, there are new signs that ailing . . . Mugabe may not see out his current term, let alone be prepared to start a new one in 2018”
Already, Tsvangirai has signalled that he could be forced to lead his supporters onto the streets in protest against the hugely unpopular bond notes that many fear are a step back in time when Zimbabwe registered record hyper-inflation.
“What makes this different is the increasing pace of the disintegration of Zanu PF and the rivalries and competition for power that it will inevitably spark, specifically in the security establishment and the formal military.
“Zimbabwe has faced serious crises before, but not with such a divided ruling party and so few ideas on how to proceed. The country is going to need clear heads if sanity is to prevail . . . but clear heads may be in short supply.”
Instead of attending to the country’s worsening political and social-economic crises, Zanu PF bigwigs are embroiled in their party’s mindless bloodletting, in which a faction loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is engaged in deadly factional and succession wars with a group opposed to him known as the Generation 40 (G40).
The report added that due to Mugabe’s age, he is not able to stop the fights devouring the governing party.
“ . . . the fresh signs of the impact of ageing on Mugabe are sparking new concerns over the possibility of political instability in the event of his sudden demise.
“The fractures in Zanu PF are becoming increasingly open. Elements of the rival ‘Team Lacoste’ — a faction led by . . . Mnangagwa, — and the so-called Generation 40 or G40 faction of younger Zanu PF leaders with First Lady Grace Mugabe as their main supporter — have been taking public pot-shots at each other, including in State-controlled media.”