Mugabe watched with glee when, after independence, his party began to divide itself along factional lines. He let the factions grow and entrench themselves because he realised that would work to his advantage.
Over the years, he has used classic divide and rule tactics to preserve his hold on power. His trick has been simple: let them fight each other and come to me for favours.
Mugabe himself knows very well that the factions that have emerged within Zanu (PF) do not want him anymore, yet all of them profess their allegiance to him in public because they need his signature in whatever they do. Now he is saying he cannot step down because he fears the intense jockeying for his position will kill the party. There is nothing new in that strategic position, of course, because, in it, he has seen an opportunity to remain in power.
Under normal circumstances, it would not be our business as a media house to be giving prescriptions to political parties on how to run their affairs.
However, it is clear that the Zanu (PF) succession dynamics have a direct bearing on the national situation. If not properly handled, Zimbabwe could easily slide into a crisis whose magnitude this country has not witnessed before.
The factions within Zanu (PF) keep multiplying. What is most worrying is the reported entrance of a military nucleus, apparently prepared to stop at nothing to ensure that it gets the coveted position.
This would involve a number of unpalatable strategies, among them staging a coup and installing military rule, creating a state of emergency and systematic violence against innocent civilians.
We have already seen some of these strategies at play without the overt involvement of a military faction. The obvious result of a militarised campaign for Mugabe’s position would be civil unrest, even worse violations of human rights and, of course, increased isolation by the international community.
The possibility of civil strife should surely convince Mugabe to stop hiding behind a finger and take decisive action so that there is a peaceful transition within his party. If he cannot solve the succession crisis in his party now, why should he be sure that he would do that from behind the grave?Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga