Mnangagwa throws Zanu PF bigwigs in succession disarray


GWERU – The ruling party is facing a potentially explosive power struggle after President Mnangagwa announced that he would retire at the end of his current term.

Zanu PF inside sources told The Midweek Watch that Mnangagwa’s unexpected announcement has rattled his loyalists, who now fear retribution from the opposing camp angling to wrestle power from the octogenarian.

Mnangagwa has been in power since the 2017 November soft coup which toppled long time dictator, Robert Mugabe from the throne.

President Mnangagwa chatting with ZDF commander, General Valerio Sibanda.

This development has also triggered a surge in corruption within government ranks and file as some feel it is their time to ‘eat’ before Mnangagwa leaves office.

Mnangagwa was endorsed as Zanu PF’s first secretary at the party’s 7th National People’s Congress held in Harare in October 2022.

He was subsequently re-elected as the country’s President during the disputed August, 2023 harmonised elections.

Last year, Mnangagwa controversially smuggled the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, Philip Valerio Sibanda, into the Politburo, only to withdraw the appointment later due to backlash from the opposition and civil society.

Sibanda shares the same totem with the President and hails from Mberengwa in the Midlands province, whereas his appointment into Zanu PF was viewed as part of the succession matrix.

The security sector has been a key pillar of Zanu PF’s power retention schemes, with the party strategically deploying securocrats in influential and strategic positions across public and private institutions.

During Mnangagwa’s rise to the presidency and the ousting of Robert Mugabe, the military played a pivotal role.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and other military commanders were instrumental in Mnangagwa’s ascension to power, which ushered in the Second Republic.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Chiwenga is positioning himself to succeed Mnangagwa as the former army supremo was a key player in the removal of Mugabe.

Unfortunately, some of the other influential army commanders who were part of the “Operation Restore Legacy” have since passed away, such as the late Lieutenant General Sibusiso Moyo, who announced Mugabe’s ousting on national television in 2017.

Despite these developments, ZANU-PF has managed to maintain its grip on power, leveraging its strong institutional framework to quell any dissent.

Going by President Mnangagwa’s pronouncement  in Mutare last week, the Zanu PF new leader will be selected at the party’s elective congress, on a date to be announced.

This is despite growing calls from ZANU-PF circles and Mnangagwa’s loyalists who want him to retain power beyond his current term, which expires in 2028.

By urging the ruling party to prepare to choose his successor, Mnangagwa has placed the party’s bigwigs in a succession dilemma, leaving many uncertain about his true intentions.

“I am running my last five years as leader of the Zanu PF party, which will end soon, so I can go and rest. You will have to appoint a new leader through an elective congress, and this person should follow my footsteps. I have hinted you,” Mnangagwa said this while addressing a crowd of party supporters in Mutare last week.

The president also warned his party comrades against using money to gain power without grassroots endorsement, and urged them to adhere to the party’s hierarchy.

Political analyst Effie Ncube believes Chiwenga has the edge to succeed Mnangagwa, given his support from the military and his current position as Vice President and former Commander of the Defense Forces.

“For me I see no other successor except Vice President Chiwenga. He enjoys the support of the military and his being the Vice President and former commander of the defence forces gives him massive and insurmountable advantages over any likely contenders who may emerge along the way,” he said.

Ncube added that General Sibanda is unlikely to upstage Chiwenga.

“I think he (General Sibanda) will defer to Chiwenga and not contest him.  However, in politics you never say never. At this stage though it seems the odds favour the Vice President to succeed President Mnangagwa,” noted Ncube.

However, social justice advocate and writer Tendai Ruben Mbofana, a fierce critic of the regime, argues that Mnangagwa’s statement was ambiguous, as he only referred to his retirement from Zanu PF, not as the state president.

Mbofana suggests that Mnangagwa might be working on extending his stay in power until 2030, while “giving his opponents the false hope of his imminent retirement”.

Last month, former opposition figure and President’s biographer, Eddie Cross was the first to suggest that Mnangagwa would not extend his term, arguing that adhering to term limits would demonstrate a commitment to constitutionalism, good governance, and political stability.

As Mnangagwa retirement drama continues to unfold, Zanu PF commissar, Munyaradzi Machacha appears caught off guard, as he continues to push the “ED 2030” campaign, suggesting a contradictory message from the President’s recent insinuations.

Zanu PF has managed to decimate and sold a dummy to the opposition in favor of it’s power game plan.

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