Centre of power a mere illusion

The Mnangagwa faction successfully lobbied for a unitary centre of power at the Zanu (PF) congress last December. This concept entails that President Robert Mugabe must be the nucleus of power in the ruling party and all else is secondary. The concept of one centre of power became the rallying cry as the Mnangagwa group accused Joice Mujuru of plotting to take political power from Mugabe.

Tawanda Majoni
Tawanda Majoni

Mugabe himself entrenched the idea when he appointed Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as his deputies. He declared that they would only be his rubber stamps and did not hold any real power of their own. But the assumption that Zanu (PF) can have only one centre of power – controlled exclusively by Mugabe – is an illusion.

Firstly, Mugabe no longer possesses the capacity to control power in the ruling party. Age has taken a big toll on him and he is at the mercy of the Mnangagwa faction and his equally ambitious wife, Grace. The president admitted so much at the congress, when he publicly announced that Grace was firmly holding the reins at home.

Mugabe must surely know that Mnangagwa and his allies are singing so loud about the centre of power not because that is what they want. They realised that it was a potent way of getting close to power by pretending that Mujuru posed a threat to Mugabe. It is grandstanding. So, what is being referred as the Mugabe-centred centre of power is actually in the hands of other people. Who doesn’t know that Mugabe no longer makes decisions in the party? The mere fact that he believed the poppycock that Mujuru was deploying juju to wrest power from him demonstrates amply how far he has become removed from the very power he assumes to still hold.

While Zanu (PF) has rid itself of a significant faction that Mujuru led by ejecting most of its influential leaders, the ruling party is not homogenous or unified. Nathan Manheru, who I and many others believe is George Charamba, recently indicated that Mugabe is now convinced that he has managed to repair the major cracks in the party and might leave office any time, making way for Mnangagwa. It is useful to note that what we casually call the Mnangagwa faction is in itself far from being unified. It was united by the common goal of removing a shared enemy, Mujuru and her loyalists, and hardly anything else.

As it stands, the Gang of Four comprising Oppah Muchinguri, Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao, which played a critical role in dislodging Mujuru, is falling apart. Moyo and Kasukuwere seem to still hold together, but they are not the easiest of comrades. Moyo is gifted with a sharp intellect but is famous for his low contempt for not-so-brainy people like Kasukuwere.

They will drift apart sooner rather than later. Kasukuwere clashed with Muchinguri in the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mount Darwin West by-elections over the choice of candidates and I hear they are not on talking terms. Muchinguri, on the other hand, is currently not seeing eye-to-eye with Grace, who she helped ascend to the helm of the Women’s League and accompanied on whirlwind nationwide anti-Mujuru tours. Worse still, Moyo and Kasukuwere seem to be looking beyond Mnangagwa, not up to him. They belong to a group that calls itself the G40 that clearly thinks the old guard must make way for new blood.

This has ominous implications. It might mean that the likes of Moyo and Kasukuwere will form a new centre of power. Mugabe can’t be the issue to them because he is now past the sell-by date. On the other hand, Mnangagwa will fight fiercely to ensure that he is the real centre of power ahead of the 2018 general elections and beyond. These two camps appear to be fighting for power, subtly and directly, as new factions in Zanu (PF).

The Mujuru remnants are also likely to rally Zanu (PF) supporters and form another centre of power. They may be lying dormant currently, but they are not finished. They will emerge when the time comes. In any case, it is foolhardy to assume that Zanu (PF) has entirely discarded Mujuru and her allies. Once Mugabe is gone, they will return, with a fair chance of success.

The outcome of the 2014 congress remains contested. Things were not done properly or legitimately. There remains a route which Mujuru and others may use to claim back their positions because the Zanu (PF) constitution was not followed when they were expelled. In other words, the Mujuru camp has just been pushed to the edge, but is still within the circle. It is obvious, therefore, that what is being referred to as a unitary centre of power is nothing but an illusion as Zanu (PF) in its current state has spawned clusters that all want power.

Post published in: Analysis

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