MNAGAGWA ON THE BANKS OF HIS POLITICAL RUBICON
...The Die is Cast: To Cross or not to cross?
ON January 10, 49 BC Julius Caesar and his Army lined the banks of the River Rubicon. He had to decide whether to cross the Rubicon into Rome and face Emperor Pompey, an act that would have meant a rebellion against the Emperor and the state. Once taken, that decision would be irreversible and would involve fighting his way against the fierce army of Pompey. This was not an easy decision for Caesar, so he called for a dice to be rolled. After this, Caesar knew there was no going back. He then uttered the words “The die is cast “, as he crossed the Rubicon, to face-off with Pompey and his army. He had reached his point of no return.
Mnangagwa in Julius Caesar’s shoes:
This is a story befitting of the situation facing the Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa at this very moment. He has been under sustained attack from the First Lady, G40, and the President himself, accused of wanting to succeed Mugabe, as if such ambitions are a crime. The recent cabinet reshuffle was for all intents and purposes directed at him, and there are no more pretensions as to the intentions of the Emperor with regards to Ngwena. He wants to finish him off.
As the Zanu PF elective Congress set for December beckons, his political fate will be decided. Mnangagwa is now standing on the banks of his political Rubicon and needs to decide whether to roll the dice and face his Pompey. He is the Julius Caesar heading for a Faceoff with Pompey in the name of the President, Robert Mugabe. Caesar had courage, fighting skills and a good army. The VP may have left it too late for such a fight, as he watched while the best of his foot soldiers were decimated one by one.
Fooled by the Puppeteer Mugabe
For quite some time, the balance of power between the G40 and Lacoste factions in the succession fights in Zanu PF has been playing like a see-saw. One time G40 would look like they are almost down and out, as was the case when Kasukuwere was under fire and all provinces were passing votes of no confidence against him. Everything looked like it was going the Lacoste way. The next moment they would “resurrect” themselves, and Lacoste would be weakened and vice verse. All this while, the Emperor has been spectating and playing the two like the perfect puppeteer he is.
For those analytical enough, it was clear to them earlier on that Mugabe was always G40, based on the fact that his wife is a member of that faction. Nothing Grace does is without the knowledge or outright blessing of her husband.
Grace’s bark is always followed by Mugabe’s bite
When former vice president Joice Mujuru was hounded out of Zanu PF and Government, it was Grace who threw the first salvo. To create the platform for that, national rallies were organised which she then used to denigrate Mujuru. Obviously, all those actions had the presidents blessing, given the state resources and party machinery that had to be activated for those rallies to take place. When Mugabe finally spoke out against Mujuru, he was just putting the final nail in the coffin.
This is the same script that is being used on Mnangagwa. Youth rallies were used as platforms to attack the VP and once again, the First Lady did the groundwork, as if to test the waters before the president came in for the kill, emasculating Mnangagwa through the cabinet reshuffle. Grace, who has admitted to brazen candidness and has nicknamed herself “Mafirakureva”, warned the VP publicly that what happened to Mujuru may happen to him too.
One can also look at the brazenness of the likes of G40 members like as Jonathan Moyo who uses his Twitter account to deride the VP with his famous but very telling “Handei Tione” (We shall see) remark. Moyo pokes and picks up fights with everyone including the armed forces commander, General Constantine Chiwenga. Who in his right mind picks fights with the head of the army unless he is assured of protection from higher powers?
Another telltale sign is that of Mugabe’s wife literally deciding that Moyo has no case to answer over the corruption case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission in spite of the evidence against him. And her remarks that Kasukuwere is going nowhere even when there is growing opposition from the provinces remove any doubts and make it crystal clear for all to see that G40 hails from State House.
The Final countdown on VP
The recent cabinet reshuffle which stripped Mnangagwa of his other portfolio, the justice ministry, came fast on the heels of sustained and public attacks by the First lady. And in this reshuffle, Ngwena was the biggest loser as ministers loyal to Lacoste, like Patrick Chinamasa were affected while ministers believed to be G40 were rewarded through strategic ministries. The congress set for December will likely decide on the Vice Presidency within Zanu PF in a manner that will either weaken VP Mnangagwa further if not decimate him completely. The options facing Mnangagwa are quite clear. Either sit back and pray, in the hope that nothing happens and be destroyed politically like a frog in a bucket of water on a fire. Or shall he decide to cross the Rubicon?
These are the decisions for the future. But first, let’s see how we got to where we are. How complicit was the VP in what is now happening to him?
VP Mnangagwa created the monster that is Mugabe’s power
The relationship between Mugabe and Mnangagwa dates back to the days of the liberation struggle, where Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s special assistant and this close relationship remained throughout the independence period, with Mnangagwa rumoured to have been the one standing by Mugabe when he lost the first round of elections to Tsvangirai in 2008. As Justice Minister, he recently fast-tracked an amendment to the Constitution to allow Mugabe to appoint Judges, a move that baffled all who thought Mnangagwa would be more reform-minded. He has had a hand in changing the Zanu PF constitution in Mugabe’s favour, creating an all-powerful party President and the undemocratic concept of one centre of power in Zanu PF.
There is no doubt that Mnangagwa wanted and still wants to succeed Mugabe as president of Zanu PF and Zimbabwe. This is normal, and in a democracy it is healthy. Only in Zanu PF has an aspiration to succeed the leader been criminalised and seen as tantamount to topple Mugabe. As Mugabe is advanced in age, it is normal for any aspirants to express themselves. How the words succession and secessionists been given a bad association to the point of yielding political casualties the likes of Mnangagwa is less a reflection on Mnangagwa’s ambition than it is a reflection on Mugabe’s paranoia with power.
Just last year, Mnangagwa told state radio that; “I have in no way, either by acts of commission or omission, sought to arrogate power or authority to myself away from his Excellency the President and first Secretary, Cde R.G Mugabe”
Mnangagwa created the monster that is now devouring him.
Mnangagwa is collateral damage on the path to a Grace's Presidential ambition:
One could even ask whether Mugabe has a real aversion to Mnangagwa succeeding him, given the history the two have shared together, and the loyalty Mnangagwa has shown to Mugabe. It seems too much of a coincidence that two erstwhile comrades of Mugabe, Mujuru, and Mnangagwa, both contenders for the presidency, are falling when the president’s wife’s political star is rising and her presidential ambitions are being revealed. It is clear that Mugabe has also taken it upon himself to promote his wife politically, and giving her the platform to do so. Perhaps the president has decided on a Mugabe dynasty as the best way to protect the interests of the First Family after he steps down and is standing by his wife. If that is the case, what is happening is not because the president doesn’t want Mnangagwa to succeed him, but rather that he now prefers his wife instead and Mnangagwa's misfortune is just collateral damage. In the Mafia Language, it is what they call “nothing personal, just business”
The Jonathan Moyo Factor
Anybody who underestimates Jonathan’s political cunning does that at their own peril. Take Jonathan out of the G40 equation, and there is no G40. He is sharp, hardworking, analytical, and above all lethal. Mugabe knows it, and that is the only reason he brought him back to Zanu PF.
Remove Moyo from G40, and you have performed a brain surgery on the faction and taken out the brain. What would remain is mediocrity with no instincts for scheming and survival. Kasukuwere was a dead man walking when all the Zanu PF provinces passed votes of no confidence in him, and it was Moyo who was reported to have saved him in the Politburo and tore into the legality of the motions.
Moyo’s star shone during the 2000 Constitution-making process. Even though the proposed constitution was rejected in the referendum, Moyo’s organisational capabilities manifested themselves in more ways than one.
As Minister of information, Moyo was ruthless in support of his cause (whether he believed in it or not didn't matter). He authored one of probably the most obnoxious and anti-press pieces of legislation in the Access to Information Protection and Privacy Act (AIPPA). His campaign against the 4th Estate was brutal, and it was during this time that the offices of the Daily News were bombed in 2001, and its subsequent banning in 2003, both moves seen by many as government engineered acts of intimidation.
Moyo ran the Zanu PF propaganda machinery like Goebbels reincarnate, with musical shows and galas, and jingles playing on radio and tv with endless monotony.
When left Zanu PF briefly, he took with him his energy, and the propaganda engines went silent. Not only did they miss his presence, but they felt the poisonous sting he unleashed with passion against the Zanu PF party and President Mugabe through his numerous articles. He chided the “The Economy is land, and land is the economy” mantra which he had himself introduced during the time of the farm invasions and called it a “tired” mantra.
Notwithstanding all these achievements, Jonathan Moyo has been proven to be a serious turncoat and political flip-flopper who will sing for his supper. It is difficult to place your trust in him.
President Mugabe has said openly that Moyo is thick headed ( musoro wake wakaoma sebamba). In 2005 at a rally in Tsholotsho, Mugabe said “No Jonathan, you are clever, but you lack wisdom. You are educated, but you do not have wisdom.” A few years ago Mugabe also called Moyo devil incarnate, after accusing him of using the state media as Information minister to fight his enemies. It only took a reported visit by Moyo to State House for the whole furore to be swept under the carpet.
Most of those involved in the liberation struggle, the War Veterans, and the Securocrats, have a pathological dislike for the man So, why would Moyo be back in Zanu PF? Why would he seemingly wield so much power and influence?
The answer is simple.
Every Machiavelian, of whom President Mugabe is one, knows that the art of survival in politics is to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The truth of the matter is that Mugabe does not like Jonathan Moyo. He needs him.
Moyo, the Master of spin, brought life to a dead story about Mnangagwa’s “ I am the Boss” mug story, a drama that could have passed for a birthday party prank. He turned the Mnangagwa poisoning incident into an ice cream assassination allegation to rile the first family. Finally, he jumped onto the Mnangagwa comparison with Mahofa poisoning, as if to convince the President of a pattern of innuendos on the part of the VP. If you read the statement by VP Mphoko against Mnangagwa over the poisoning statements Mnangagwa made, the language in that statement sounded Moyo‘ish, and again designed to cast aspersions that it was an assassination attempt.
So if Moyo is endearing himself to the President, and is willing to take the VP head on, it is no surprise that Mugabe personally intervened to save Moyo from arrest by ZACC over the abuse of ZIMDEF funds. Such intervention by a President would constitute an impeachable offence in a real democracy, but it goes to show what Mugabe can do when he still needs you. Moyo should be warned though, that the day he is seen as going out of step, ZACC will be set on him without much ado.
Why Moyo’s fight with Mnangagwa gets personal
But back to the Mnangagwa story, Moyo is now fighting for his life. The criminal charges against him are likely to attract a guilty verdict even by a Magistrate straight from Law school, and would probably send him to prison, and he knows it. The best for Moyo is to turn the whole thing political and make it a Lacoste witch-hunt with a regime change agenda. Mugabe has bought it, and with that, has turned against his erstwhile Comrade of so many years.
My take is that Mnangagwa has not been felled by Mugabe, but by Moyo. Moyo has not flipped on Mnangagwa because he loves Mugabe, otherwise, why bring the Tsholotsho debacle only now when it happened almost 15 years ago? He did so because he is convinced if he doesn’t “shoot” first, Mnangagwa's “rifle” was already cocked through the ZACC impending arrest. He's is a fight for survival and self-preservation, something the Professor is good at but Mnangagwa underestimated the Professor.
Mnangagwa ran down his army of foot soldiers.
Standing on the banks of the Rubicon, ruminating whether to cross or not to cross, Caesar must have looked at his army before rolling the dice, knowing if he crosses the river, he is able to fight.
As Mnangagwa weighs his options, he obviously is looking at his troops. For too long Mnangagwa sacrificed his foot soldiers like pawns on a chessboard. As they were sniped out one by one, the VP never came to their defence in any shape or form. The likes of Tsenengamu, Mutodi, Mutsvangwa and the entire Leadership of the War Veterans Association, who were ostracized and hounded out of positions simply for voicing their support for the VP.
The recent reshuffle took away his Justice Ministerial portfolio. His political strongholds of Masvingo and Midlands are being staffed with G40 supporters and he will lose that too. The President has fired a broadside on Army Generals, telling them to stay out of politics, and lately hinting on retiring them. The Army top echelons have been seen as supporting the VP.
Mnangagwa is beginning to look like an Emperor without clothes. At this juncture, I do not see the VP taking the risk of rolling the dice, let alone crossing the Rubicon. To do so would be facing his political Waterloo. He left it too late.
What are Mnangagwa’s Options?
There are two options. One of the options is a do-nothing option, which in my view is not really an option. Let’s assume it is, then it is an option steeped in the fate that sooner rather than later God calls on the President. The problem in Zimbabwe is that all the levers of power and the state institution are serving the President in the name of Mugabe. If Mugabe were to go today, a serious political vacuum would be created and old allegiances would be resurrected. VP Mnangagwa would stand to benefit from that. But that is in the hands of God.
Meanwhile, with this realization in mind, the G40 would like to establish a succession route in time to give that route enough institutional support base to stand on its own in a post Mugabe era. Mugabe seems to have realized it, and the Congress in December is the first step towards actualizing that.
The problem is that with this option, if the President lives long enough to establish his preferred alternative power structure, then the VP will politically die a natural death, like the frog in water on a fire.
The second option is for the VP and his troopers to scuttle the President in next year’s elections, either by supporting an alternative ( meaning opposition) candidate, or creating a chaotic environment for a Bhora musango scenario as was the case in 2008. In a way, the War Veterans association have vowed to campaign against the president and land their support to any other candidate they consider worthy of that support. Clearly, this scenario may become increasingly likely if indeed the Elective Congress turns out to Mnangagwa'sWaterloo, as we suspect it will.
The Revolution has devoured its children
What is going on in Zanu PF? Has anybody bothered to pose and ask why President Mugabe seems to be weaning out all his erstwhile comrades in the struggle and is surrounding himself with people who did not fight with him for independence? Was it not the Army that, from the times of General Zvinavashe vowed not to salute people without liberation war credentials?
The list of former comrades, both dead and living, who have fallen by the wayside is long.
Let’s start with the departed. We know Joshua Nkomo was hounded more after independence than when he was a liberation fighter. At one time he had to endure the ignominy of leaving the country disguised as a woman.We know what happened to Edgar Tekere, that no-nonsense firebrand of a Secretary General of Zanu PF. He ended up fighting Zanu PF and dabbled in opposition politics for a while. What happened to lookout Masuku? He must be turning in his grave?.
Where is Rugare Gumbo? Where is Dydimus Mutasa? Where is Joyce Mujuru? Where are Chris Mutsvangwa and some of the War Veterans who gained notoriety as enforcers of the doctrine of Mugabe hegemony? Where is Jabulani Sibanda, that feared mobiliser of War Veterans?
These are people whose lives were defined by the struggle. They have fallen by the wayside. Only the President is left at the helm but now surrounded by people none of whom are defined by the revolution.
So, can someone tell us just what the hell is going on?
While all this drama plays out, the poor people of Zimbabwe are watching. With a clueless opposition, they place their fate in God’s hands.