Shumba for president?

HARARE - When he fired Daniel Shumba from his Central Committee in November 2004, President Robert Mugabe could not have anticipated how quickly one of his top soldiers and Masvingo Zanu (PF) provincial chairman would become one of his most outspoken political rivals.
But ironically, ever sinc

e Shumba was thrown out of the ruling party amid allegations of plotting a coup against the elevation of Joice Mujuru to the Vice Presidency, together with five other provincial chairpersons and hawkish Zanu (PF) heir apparent Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (ED), the ex-provincial chairman’s political support has been growing.
Shumba insists that his sacking had less to do with a meeting that discussed a coup than with his opposition to any attempts by President Mugabe to impose an unpopular candidate to succeed him. The clandestine meeting reportedly discussed a plan to have six out of 10 provincial chairpersons vote against the elevation of Mujuru to the Vice Presidency in favour of Mnangagwa.
Industry and International Affairs minister Obert Mpofu, was the first to let the Tsholotsho Declaration cat out of the bag, informing Mugabe about the clandestine meeting at Dinyane High School that was aimed at discussing leadership changes in the presidium. Mugabe was to later describe the meeting as a planned “palace coup.”
Shumba told The Zimbabwean in an exclusive interview this week that he was targeted because he demonstrated “independent thought” and also questioned Mugabe’s right to stay in power.
“We were merely trying to stop the authoritarian perpetuation of power,” he said.
Shumba is closely associated with bringing some semblance of unity to the ruling party’s fractured Masvingo provincial executive. When he was appointed provincial chairman, he managed to ease simmering tensions among protagonists in the party’s provincial structures.
Indeed until his sudden fall from grace – he sat among an exclusive 252 Central Committee members who discuss policy with Mugabe in closed door meetings quarterly. Following his ejection from Zanu (PF), Shumba’s licence to roll out a second fixed line telephone operator in Zimbabwe, TeleAccess, has been revoked by an angry President Mugabe. He is currently fighting the case in the courts.
During a by-election held in Chiredzi South last month, Shumba’s UPP polled almost 900 votes, 200 votes more than the Mutambara-led MDC. The Tsvangirai-led MDC polled slightly above 3,300 votes in the poll. The election was controversially won by Zanu (PF) amid allegations of electoral irregularities.
Some analysts believe that Shumba does have a realistic chance at the presidency.
The reason why Shumba is viewed as potentially a very serious challenger is that he knows all of Zanu (PF)’s tricks, having served in the army and later in Mugabe’s Central Committee.
“He knows Zanu (PF) inside out,” said the analyst.

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