Monday, September 21, 2020

Personal battles take center stage at expense of running Zim government

Things are not going well within the political parties that form the so-called government of national unity.

While it is clear that unity of purpose remains as elusive as it has always been, the turmoil and factionalism that are simmering in all the participating political parties have diverted attention from the running of the country to individuals fighting for survival and fighting tooth and nail to save their political parties from being overwhelmed and vanquished.

Last week, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai flew to South Africa to report Robert Mugabe to South African President Jacob Zuma.
Tsvangirai and his MDC colleagues want Zuma to ask SADC to pressure Mugabe into behaving himself and dealing with outstanding issues of the so-called Global Political Agreement.

Since the formation of the unity government six months ago, Mugabe has, among other things, made unilateral appointments of both the Attorney general and the Reserve Bank governor.
These two appointments irk the MDC and they want those appointments rescinded but Mugabe has stood firm.

Just yesterday, ZANU-PF accused the MDC of failing to hold up their end of the deal by failing to campaign for the removal of sanctions against ZANU-PF people.

“The MDC, which urged its international supporters to impose the illegal sanctions, has the sole responsibility to ensure that its international supporters remove the sanctions forthwith. The implementation of the GPA cannot be a one-sided affair,” ZANU-PF’s deputy spokesperson, Ephraim Masawi, said yesterday.

As the MDC continues to complain about how it and its leaders are treated and portrayed in the state-controlled media, ZANU-PF is also accusing the MDC of doing the same, accusing the MDC of not doing enough “to ask the foreign media to tone down its harsh reportage on the Zanu-PF leadership”.

“The vilification of Zanu-PF and its leaders by special targeted broadcasts continues on a daily basis unabated,” Masawi said.

Mugabe has also refused to swear into office some MDC cabinet ministers, notable among whom is Roy Bennett, the deputy minister of Agriculture designate.

Meanwhile, Mugabe and his ZANU-PF continue to harass, assault and arrest MDC supporters and parliamentarians on trumped up charges, diverting their attention from parliamentary and government duties to fighting for legal survival and avoiding being sent to jail.

The MDC has about seven MPs now awaiting trial on flimsy and trumped up charges and cannot afford to have any more of its parliamentarians convicted or sent to jail, given the slim majority the party wields over ZANU-PF in parliament.

While ZANU-PF is mudding the waters like this, there are increasing plumes of smoke emanating from its belly.
The succession battle is in full swing and the two ZANU-PF camps camps continue to dig in their heels.

One faction is led by my home-boy, Defence minister Emerson Mnangagwa, who got the notorious Jonathan Moyo and several senior ZANU-PF stalwarts into trouble several years ago when they plotted the infamous Tsholotsho indaba to plan against Mugabe’s then preferred successor, now vice president, Joice Mujuru.

The other ZANU-PF faction is led by Solomon Mujuru, Joice’s husband. Solomon, the once powerful and influential army supremo, wants his wife, not Mnangagwa, to succeed Mugabe.
The death of Vice president Joseph Msika last week stroked the embers of the succession wars again. The two camps are backing their men not only for the vacant vice presidency but also for other top jobs within ZANU-PF.
At this time, it is considered a faiti accompli that the vice presidency is tipped to land in the lap of ZANU-PF National Chairman, John Nkomo, who is from the Mnangagwa faction.

Mnangagwa himself has not expressed an interest in the party chairmanship but is backing his people to pave the way for him. He wants the top prize of succeeding Mugabe.

The Mnangagwa camp is also campaigning heavily for one of their man, Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, to take over the party chair after Nkomo is elevated to the vice presidency.

The battle is in progress and is heating up.

Meanwhile, there is a war raging within the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change.
Mutambara’s faction now also has factions.

Mutambara and all his party’s people that he took with him into government, parliament and the senate had all lost in parliamentary elections and had to enter through the back door as Non-Constituency MPs (the equivalent of Botswana’s Specially-Elected MPs).

Those of their faction who did win parliamentary seats were not only sidelined and left out of government but were last week expelled from the party for criticizing Mutambara.
That was the last straw.

Former MP Job Sikhala, a founding member of the MDC in 1999, who lost his seat after backing the Mutambara-led breakaway faction and was also fired from the same faction, popped up and declared himself the new president of the Mutambara MDC faction.

“We have taken this opportunity to announce our seizure and total control of the people’s party until our next extra-ordinary congress next year in April to shape our struggle against Mugabe’s dictatorship,” Sikhala told journalists on Friday afternoon. “At the moment, I have taken over. Mutambara only remains president (of the MDC) in the Herald and on ZBC (major media outlets run by the government).”

This followed a series of mysterious happenings within the faction. Two weeks ago, a Mutambara MDC parliamentarian, put forward by his party to be ambassador to Senegal, disappeared and refused to attend courses on diplomacy in preparation for his new post.

It is believed that the parliamentarian was being given the post outside the country to allow Mutambara’s vice president, Gibson Sibanda, to take over his parliamentary seat so as to stay in cabinet.

Sibanda had lost elections and was taken into government pending his acquisition of a parliamentary seat either through by-elections or as a non-constituency member.

The problem here is that Mutambara, his deputy Sibanda, their Secretary general Welshman Ncube and his deputy Priscilla Mushonga all lost in elections but bulldozed their way into parliament as non-constituency members and ended up occupying those cabinet posts allocated to their faction.

Now they are battling not only to stay in government but to justify and remain in parliament at the expense of the people who won constituencies but whom they have now fired from the party to open the door for by-elections, a development which strongly farvours ZANU-PF, given its propensity to rigging elections, and one which some believe is a premeditated move to save ZANU-PF.

“Our determination to see our people totally free spurs us to fight to the best of our ability against all forces of retrogression and Mugabe’s zombies and yoyos,” Sikhala said, referring to Mutambara and Ncube, whom he thinks are working for Mugabe.

It is clear that all these senior party officials who also occupy senior cabinet posts are not fighting a war of reconciliation but of personal survival, at the expense of the long-suffering majority.

This thing called government of national unity is a mirage to keep people moving in the hope of finding an oasis where there is none. It was badly conceived.

The Global Political Agreement is fraudulent in intent, in design and in execution.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.