MNANGAGWA IS DOWN BUT IS HE OUT?
...Cashing in on his political assets
|Emerson Mnangagwa, ousted vice president of Zimbabwe whose at the centre of developments unfolding in Harare. |
Picture credit www.pulselive.co.ke
DEVELOPMENTS in the Zimbabwean political landscape have never been as fluid and as unpredictable as they have been in the past ten days or so. This is quite uncharacteristic in itself, but more so given the types and level of players that are now sucked in; the President, the First Family, the War Veterans, the Vice President, and the Army. This is serious business, with only those with a death wish taking it otherwise. Since the gloves came off on Mnangagwa at the Bulawayo interface rally, the tempo of events has been increasing in pace, culminating in his dismissal on that fateful afternoon of Monday 6th November 2018.Since then, the game has been one of Russian Roulette, with no one being sure in which chamber the bullet is in, and whose head is going to get blown off next.
This is new stuff for Mugabe
In the world of Mugabe and his politics, he has always had the final say. The dismissal of Mnangagwa would and should have been the final say, and the matter should have been history come the morning of the 7th, and life would go on as usual. That is what his history book tells him. Chapter by chapter of that history book has episodes of such summary dumping, the likes of Joshua Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa, Ndabaningi Sithole, Edgar Tekere, Dzikamai “Mugabe must go” Mavhaire, Enos Nkala, Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo, Joyce Mujuru, the list is long. These people were kicked out, and the Emperor continued to rule as usual.
This time, it seems with Mnangagwa things are different. Instead of this being the end, it seems it is the beginning, or in the worst case the beginning of the end. Mnangagwa has fled, and God knows what the hell the fellow is and what he is planning from wherever he is, but from his statement released recently, he is not sleeping. The War Veterans have become bolder and more vocal, issuing what amounts to an Intifada against the President as far as affairs of the party are concerned. And in quick succession, the Army issues a scathing attack on developments in the party as threats to national security and invoke Constitutional provisions granting then the right to intervene.
In this article, I proffer my perspective on why things are different from before, and why if I were Mugabe, I would wake up in the night to inspect the shadows in the dark. Mugabe might just be facing his Waterloo. I also want to touch on what these developments should mean for us as Zimbabweans at large because there are some rather shortsighted perceptions that see these developments as only Mnangagwa affairs, and not national, which I think is wrong.
Mugabe fell for Mnangagwa’s bait to cross the Rubicon:
In my previous instalments, I have compared Mnangagwa to Caesar and Mugabe to Emperor Pompei.( see https://thelmachikwanha.blogspot.fr/2017/10/mnagagwa-on-banks-of-his-political.html) The two options I proffered facing Mnangagwa were whether Mnangagwa should cross the Rubicon and take the fight to Mugabe, or sit back and die politically like a frog. Mnangagwa did neither of the two. Everybody thought Congress is coming and Mnangagwa would be buried at Congress.
What happened surprised everybody. Mugabe took the fight to Mnangagwa, fast-forwarded the process, and dismissed his Vice President two days after a savage attack at the 9th Interface rally in Bulawayo. This was followed by another worse attack on Sunday 5th by the acerbic First lady Grace at the Rufaro stadium at an occasion shamefully attended by some so-called people of faith. The subject of the rally was Mnangagwa, nothing else of substance was spoken. That was Mnangagwa’s last supper.
What provoked the President to react in this childish and emotional way is still not clear. Who tells bused in youths and ululating women that “I can fire my Vice President even tomorrow…”? The last time I saw that was from boys herding cattle in the village fighting over moulds of sand depicting one’s mother’s breasts, which would invoke uncontrolled rage from the other if kicked.
Some think the firing was fast forwarded to ensure that Congress would not have to deal with the process of clearing the VP position, but rather filling it. Others think, as I do, that Mugabe was afraid of the chaos that might be the Zanu-PF Congress if Mnangagwa had a Lacoste fightback strategy.
I take it though, that this fear was precipitated by the crowd reaction in Bulawayo and the booing the First Family received from the crowd. That engaged the Emperor, and he decided to cross the Rubicon himself, and go after Mnangagwa.
He swallowed the bait and entered the crocodile-infested Rubicon.
A day after his dismissal, Mnangagwa escaped Zimbabwe.
The escape was full of drama and intrigue in the way it happened. Some took this to be an act of cowardice; he himself says it was occasioned by the threats to his life. But when one looks at the statement he then made, and the fact that he intends to take the emperor head on, there is no way he would have remained in the country. Bob Marley once sang “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”
We often forget that after close association of more than 50 years, Mnangagwa knows Mugabe very well, and could predict his next move. Equally, Mugabe knows that Mnangagwa knows him very well, and this could be the source of sleepless nights for the old man. He must be wondering what the Fellow meant when he said in the typical Terminator language “I will be back!!!” When? Where? how?
Mnangagwa had a game plan; cashing in on his political assets
In my article of (https://thelmachikwanha.blogspot.fr/2017/10/beware-of-crocodile-if-mnangagwa-should.html), I identified a number of assets that I said Mnangagwa could activate as options in the event of need. Key among them were the War Veterans, and the Army. It seems that activating these assets was actually part of the game plan, but one that could be used if the Emperor falls into the trap and moves in for the kill, which he did.
The first part of the plan was to try and dissuade Mugabe from firing Mnangagwa. This was the Army’s initiative, to warn the President of the likely consequences of such a move within the ranks of the Army, who have expressed concern at the capture of the revolution by the G40. It’s not a secret that the Army is hell-bent on avoiding Grace ascending the Presidency.
On Sunday, Securocrats met the President at his residence and tried to dissuade him from dismissing Mnangagwa as this would cause national instability. The President refused. The military walks away with a moral high ground, that, “we warned you”. Then there is the Government business trip for the Army Commander Chiwenga, which seem hurriedly arranged to coincide with the announcement of the VP’s dismissal. It is reported that on the morning of 6th, the day Mnangagwa was dismissed, he was in his office before 7am and cleared his desk. Further, the Joint Operations Command, which he chairs, did not meet that morning. These are developments that seem much scripted on the part of the VP.
The Statement by Mnangagwa
A statement released by the former VP shortly after skipping the border suggests the battle lines are drawn, and he is ready for a fight with his former boss.The fact that the statement was made so soon after his dismissal suggests that confronting Mugabe was already part of the plan and not just a consequential afterthought. He must have realized that if you lie low for a while, you are quickly forgotten and become irrelevant. This is the mistake Joice Mujuru made. She failed to ride the wave of sympathy she had when she left Zanu-PF, choosing instead to lie low, perhaps hoping there would be a makeup with Mugabe.
The statement by Mnangagwa, also revealed that Mnangagwa intends to stay relevant, and still eyes the Presidency. He states that he is going nowhere, that the Zanu-PF party is not the property of the First Family; and that the party has been hijacked by external forces. Instead, he says it’s the President and his cohorts who will leave the party by the will of the people.
The statement seems to be addressed to President Mugabe as much as it is addressed to Zanu-PF cadres, in particular, those who fought the struggle. He appeals to them to decide who among the three of them (him, the President, and G40) is the enemy of the party. He warns that he will return to lead the country in a few weeks. Tie this to a statement later made by the Army making ominous edicts, and you see a grand plan unfolding. The essence of the statements are the same: the party being hijacked; the attack against the true liberation fighters, and personalizing the party.
Clearly, that was a statement of intent, signalling that the dismissal of the VP is not the end, but the beginning.
The Statement by the War Veterans.
I have stated before that the biggest mistake Mugabe made is to open a warring front with the War Veterans and lose their support. They have been the bastion of the ruling party in the past. He lost them at a time they are led by one of the shrewdest, calculating, the fearless and well-organized team I have had the honour to meet during the time I covered their arrest last year. In Mutsvangwa, Matemadanda and Mahiya, you are dealing with a battalion of three.
In the statement by the War Veterans, they expelled President Mugabe as its Leader, and formed a revolutionary council to take over the leadership of the party., insisting that it was the War Veterans who put Mugabe in that position in the party. The message the War Veterans’ statement, of redeeming ad reclaiming the party, runs through the statement by the expelled VP as well as that of the Army Generals.
The Statement by the Army.
On 13 November, exactly a week following the dismissal of Mnangagwa, the Army issued a Press statement like one never issued before. The import of this statement has been interpreted by various people in various ways, but all are agreed that the Army has drawn a red line for the President, and put him in a position to make a choice as to whose side he is on, and live by the consequences of his choice.
The army invokes Constitutional clauses 212 to justify their involvement in the affairs of Zanu-PF as a protection of National security. They remind the President that the army is a key “stockholder “as far as preserving the gains of the liberation struggle are concerned. The statement talked of infiltration of the liberation party by people who want to destroy it from within, words the Army Commander General Chiwenga has directly used against Jonathan Moyo. They remind Mugabe that it was the Army that installed him at Mgagao. They even mentioned that the people have been suffering for the past five years with no meaningful development and shortages of cash and price increases, which is a swipe at economic mismanagement.
In short, the statement was short of a Vote of No Confidence in the Presidency and his leadership, though it was couched in a manner that seemed to focus on the political developments in the Zanu-PF party. The message was showing that the Army would not allow the G40 to take over, and whichever way one looks at the statement, it simply was a warning to the President that if things continue along the trajectory they have been taking, the Army will intervene.
What is instructive about the statement is that it was issued by the collective armed forces. It was not just about General Chiwenga. The significance is that this will protect Chiwenga from being sacked or retired, as the next person is bound by that statement
The Army statement and the Zanu-PF Congress.
A major interesting feature of the Army statement is that the Army has hijacked the Agenda of the next Zanu-PF Congress and written it in their own way. They have placed interdicts on what should not be done.
No more purges targeted at people with liberation credentials. People at Congress must be allowed to exercise democratic rights.
There is a reported list of all the suspected Lacoste supporters within the Zanu-PF structures that were heading for the axe at the Congress, the likes of Oppah Muchinguri and others. Manicaland province had passed votes of No confidence in a number of people seen as Lacoste. All provinces had also endorsed First Lady for Vice President.
The Army is saying No to these anymore. The G40 plan would succeed if they weed out all Lacoste from Zanu-PF.
The Army further says No more insults and statements denigrating the Army. This is directed at the tweeting Moyo and all those who would want to join him in commenting on everything.
Clearly, the above departing shots are made by people in charge and in a position to make the rules. Everybody awaits the reaction of the President because it is him who has been calling the Army to stay out of politics. They have thrown the gauntlet, and said, No Mr President, not only are we not staying out of politics, but we are also calling you to order and instructing you and your G40 on how to behave henceforth.
I once wrote in my article (https://thelmachikwanha.blogspot.fr/2017/10/mnagagwa-on-banks-of-his-political.html) that anybody who speaks to a whole Army General the way Professor Moyo has done in the past is not very wise. Of late I have not heard the Professor continue with his taunts.