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Mujuru’s axing opens door for Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s next president

Mujuru’s axing opens door for Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s next president Vice President Joice Mujuru has been axed, as expected. Apparently not wishing to leave her and her supporters’ fate to any chance, party officials ‘rejected’ the credentials of Ms Mujuru and several key supporters – many of whom had been accused of attempting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe – from the Central Committee, effectively ending their political careers.

Local media have been reporting for some weeks now on the campaign by ZANU-PF hardliners determined to protect the ‘Mugabe Legacy’ and purge the party of all ‘moderate’ or ‘dovish’ tendencies ahead of ZANU-PF’s Sixth National People’s Congress in Harare, which runs from December 2 to December 7.

From the political shadows, ZANU-PF hard man and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has used State-controlled media, First Lady Grace Mugabe, and a litany of unsubstantiated allegations – ranging from incompetence, corruption, cover-ups and finally to involvement in a plot to assassinate the president to demonise, ostracise, side-line, and ultimately dismiss Ms Mujuru and most of her supporters from any position of influence in the ruling party.

There is no way of authenticating any of the allegations against Ms Mujuru, but when allegations of corruption and cover-ups are backdated – some as far back as 2010 – and when the allegation of complicity in a plot to assassinate Mr Mugabe is as thin as the average supermodel, other agendas emerge.

The Herald newspaper, under the thumb of President Mugabe and ZANU-PF, reported that Ms Mujuru’s provincial committee at Mount Darwin refused to accept her election papers ahead of the Congress due to her “nefarious activities to oust President Mugabe.” Others ousted included a cabinet minister, Nicholas Goche and ZANU-PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa (the two originally named by Harare media as assassination plotters) as well as several Central Committee members.

Added to the several provincial chairpersons removed from office after a motion of no confidence backed by war veterans and youth brigade thugs, this equals a wholesale purge of the so-called moderate or dovish faction in the party. This is negative news for Zimbabwe in the short to medium term with long-term prospects also damaged.

The argument that none of this makes any difference to the overall economic and investment environment in Zimbabwe and that all’s well that ends well’ requires leaps of logic that add a new dimension to the concept of ‘rational’. It seems that contacts between the moderate faction of ZANU-PF and elements of the opposition in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) splinter groupings – over negotiations on a way forward for the economic recovery of the country – were the final straw for the ZANU-PF hardliners who have never put the country ahead of the party.

There is nothing to suggest any reformist activity or tendencies remain in ZANU-PF, and nothing to imply that the government is going to seek radical transformation of the political, social and economic environments to stimulate economic growth and capital flows. The policy uncertainty will at best remain, and at worst will become even less predictable. The thought of the First Lady anywhere near the centre of power is a red flag that is big enough to engulf the region.

Against this backdrop, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor John Mangudya and Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa painted a rosy picture of the investment climate in Zimbabwe at an Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) gathering last week, and only half in jest suggested that “South African investors have a moral and business obligation to invest in Zimbabwe or we will continue bothering you.”

The pair stated with no hint of embarrassment that Zimbabwe was addressing uncertainty concerns raised by investors regarding the empowerment and indigenisation policies. However, Mr Mnangagwa is on record as saying that policies such as land redistribution and indigenisation were deemed to have failed not due to flawed reasoning, but due to Western propaganda and to weaknesses in implementation – that from the potential next president of Zimbabwe.

Gary van Staden (Senior Political Analyst)

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