The succession challenges attendant in Zanu PF, the eminence of internal fissures, elite fragmentation and splits appear to be a noteworthy feature in democratic transition in Zimbabwe as elite rifts in the regime breakdown, a research paper by a local think tank has revealed.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), a politically independent policy think tank that undertakes cutting edge research to advance democracy argued in its paper titled Elite Discohesion and Authoritarian Erosion: Zanu PF on the precipice that infighting in Zanu PF is fast causing the party to lose its power-grip on the state.
“The disintegration of hegemonic parties such as Zanu PF, which could possibly lead to its electoral loss, is not primarily predicated on external opposition from other political parties or civil society and international pressure but internal fissures and most significantly elite and grassroots discohesion in both party and state marked by recent and ongoing massive suspensions and expulsions of members of the party at all levels of Zanu PF structures.
“The weakening of and internal contestations of President Mugabe’s princely Machiavellian politics caused by his old age has brought a lot of disparate and contradictory internal forces all vying to capture the throne. This far, the warring parties appear determined to decimate each other, leaving the political party severely weakened than at any point since its formation in 1963,” ZDI said in its report.
Although rumpuses have been ever-present in Zanu PF, the level and modus of the wave of infightings gained momentum in 2014 after the then VP Joice Mujuru was sacked out of the party alongside eight other ministers over allegations of reneging on government mandate by expanding time on factional politics in which the sucked were accused of attempting to topple Mugabe.
It added that Zanu PF, which has been in power since 1980 was stronger in 2008 even though it lost the general election compared to its current state, citing the hostilities, contradictions and fragmentation in the security apparatus of the state mainly around the issue of succession as the main causes of the ‘revolutionary’ party’s fragile state.
“The discord and elite discohesion manifest in the contretemps between Mugabe and war veterans has the propensity to weaken the party as Zimbabwe approaches the 2018 election. Personal attacks on Mugabe, the patron of the war veterans by the association’s leadership such as Jabulani Sibanda – the erstwhile chairperson of the Zimbabwe War Veterans Association, Christopher Mutsvangwa, – the current chairperson, Victor Matemadanda the association’s secretary general and the firing of Mutsvangwa from cabinet are indicative of growing dissent within the security establishment,” said ZDI in its latest research paper.
ZDI also notes that the First lady’s entrance into conventional politics has disrupted the unity in Zanu PF.
“The entry of the first lady, Grace Mugabe, into mainstream Zanu PF politics in 2014 arguably heralded the summit of elite discohesion and fissures in all organs of the party including the women’s league that she leads.
“Her entry into politics coincided with unprecedented purging and expulsions from Zanu PF since 1963. Her demeanor and inferences that she is in complete charge of both the party and the state, without any constitutional legal basis upon which to exercise such powers, has been the seedbed of chaos and anarchy in all the organs and structures of the ruling party,” said ZDI.
The paper added that, “President Mugabe has always prevailed and glued Zanu PF together by playing factions one against each other. However, with the entry of Grace Mugabe into politics, Mugabe has been forced to and has become a faction leader, purportedly of G40.”