Msika death threatens to tear Zanu PF apart

msika_josephThe death of Vice President Joseph Msika threatens to tear ZANU PF apart, with its two main feuding factions already jostling to have their own candidate replace him. The exact day on which Msika died is still unclear with suggestions Mugabe delayed the announcement to manage hostilities within his party.

Most reports said he died on Tuesday, but Mugabe later told his party Msika died Wednesday morning after his organs stopped functioning. Even more bizarre are reports he died on Saturday, and ZANU PF then had a fiery impromptu politburo meeting on Sunday. Whatever the real date, there is no hiding the tensions that have openly exploded since Msikas demise.

Under a unity accord signed between ZANU PF and ZAPU in 1987 the two Vice Presidents have to represent both of the two parties. With Vice President Joice Mujuru already occupying the ZANU PF slot it means former ZAPU leaders are now in contention to replace Msika. This has made current ZANU PF national Chairman John Nkomo the front runner. But Newsreel is told the faction led by Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa is jostling to have Mines Minister and Mugabe blue-eyed boy Obert Mpofu as the replacement. This has infuriated Nkomo and most in ZAPU who consider Mpofu a sellout after his defection to ZANU PF long before the unity accord.

A prominent analyst has also told Newsreel that National Healing Minister John Nkomo, the front runner, is battling a serious form of cancer and has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy. Mugabe would be risking appointing someone whose health is on the decline he said. Another dark horse in the race to succeed Msika is Zimbabwes Ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo. Commentators say Moyo is far more senior than Mpofu in the ZAPU hierarchy, and Mugabe would be risking the fury of his ZAPU allies if he went for the junior official.

In terms of the succession dynamics, both the Mnangagwa and Mujuru factions would like to have a stake in the Vice Presidency with a view to having one of their candidates eventually replacing Mugabe. ZANU PF is due to have its 5-yearly congress in December to choose a new leadership that will also run in the next elections. Last December the ZANU PF Midlands and Masvingo provinces were virtually falling over each other in their rush to endorse Mugabe as life president, effectively blocking any challenge to his leadership. The 85-year old dictator used in-fighting within his party to justify his continued stay as the only unifying force.

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