The Mugabe faction – behind the scenes

HARARE - The Mugabe camp within the ruling party, engaged in the trenches against the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions, includes characters of dubious nature, drawn from across the regional and tribal divides.

Investigations reveal that, in typical cunning manner, Mugabe has recruited into his fold key members of the party who lead strategic organs in order to get their backing. He has successfully exploited their desire for personal convenience and political protection.

They include: from Mashonaland the likes of Elliot Manyika, Nicholas Goche, Savious Kasukuwere and Ignatius Chombo; from Manicaland – Oppah Muchinguri, Patrick Chinamasa and Didymus Mutasa; from Matabeleland – a clique led by war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda and Youth League chairman Absolomon Sikhosana. Even Zanu (PF) national chairman, John Nkomo is also said to be among the “surrogates” Mugabe is using to safeguard his power, despite him also being reported to harbour certain ambitions.

The legacy of Mugabe, characterized by intimidation, violence, patronage and the elimination of opponents, has made it difficult if not impossible for officials in his party to openly declare their political ambitions.

“There hasn’t really been a faction you can label as the Mugabe faction,” a senior Zanu (PF) official said. “But is a fact that the people you mention are currently working hard to ensure Mugabe remains in power. However, it is not as simple as it appears on the surface, there is more than meets the eye.”

Indeed, there are the likes of Mutasa, who has indicated his own ambitions and known to be leading a faction from Manicaland, which includes Chinamasa, Muchinguri and others.

There is another group comprising Mugabe’s “kids” – his relatives Leo Mugabe and Patrick Zhuwawo, and Ignatious Chombo who hails from his home province and has a distant relationship with him. These, sources say, support Mugabe “blindly and naturally” because they owe him their political survival.

“The majority of the people in the Mugabe faction are seeing and hoping beyond Robert Mugabe,” a source said. “Their major reason for being part of the Mugabe agenda is that they see an opportunity to enhance their own interests. Some of them seriously believe they owe whatever they have politically to Mugabe and would be finished without him, whilst others hope that the day he goes, they will be in a position to elevate themselves.”

“He is the legitimate leader of the party and should be supported,” Manyika says. “Those who are not supporting him are either sell-outs or traitors. Nobody should plan to succeed him when he is still alive. We don’t support the president for anything else other than that he is the legitimate leader.”

The combative and militant Sibanda repeats the same tone: “Anyone who wants to remove Mugabe is a traitor is guilty of treason. We shall ensure that he (Mugabe) wins the elections at all costs.”

“Unlike the other factions, the Mugabe camp rarely holds meetings or consults its members because of the diversity of interests,” a source said. “What usually happens is that Mugabe manipulates things his own way and uses his backers accordingly – as he has done with Sibanda and the war veterans. He brought Muchinguri close to him to get the women’s league support, and uses Kausukuwere and Sikhosana to whip up the youths’ support.”

An inside source said: “It is likely to crumble the day Mugabe meets his political end. All those backing him will retreat to their real alignments. A major likelihood is that of the Manyikas waking up and forming a formidable faction to fight the Mnangagwa and Mujuru factions.” – *What is the story with the Ndebeles? Is there a faction for the Ndeleles or are most of them backing Mnangagwa? Next week we unravel the politics of Ndebeles in Zanu (PF).

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