Zimbabwe: My enemy's enemy
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||30 June 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Zimbabwe: My enemy's enemy, 30 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486b4009f.html [accessed 13 July 2014]|
HARARE, 30 June 2008 (IRIN) - After a hurried swearing-in ceremony on Sunday to cap a second-round Zimbabwean presidential election internationally condemned as a farce, Robert Mugabe may now be setting his sights on new political opponents ? this time within his own ZANU-PF party.
Addressing one of his final campaign rallies last week in an election boycotted by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mugabe, 84, made veiled threats: "I am aware that in the first round of voting, some of you campaigned for the opposition, especially Simba Makoni; I am aware of all the tricks that were designed to make me lose."
Makoni, a former finance minister, is widely regarded as the protégé of powerful retired army general Solomon Mujuru, the husband of Vice-President Joyce Mujuru. Makoni came third, behind Tsvangirai and Mugabe, in the first-round presidential vote on 29 March.
A member of the ZANU-PF politburo, the highest decision-making body in the party, told IRIN that Mugabe now wanted to deal with the internal dissent behind the campaign known as ?Operation Bhora Mudondo' (Kick the ball out of the playing field), in which some party stalwarts are believed to have urged voters to mark their ballots for ZANU-PF in the municipal, parliament and senate elections in March, and to tick Makoni for president, rather than the party leader, Mugabe.
"Mugabe was particularly livid that he lost the first round of voting and had had to go through the indignity of being labelled a loser, which forced him to go into a run-off. He was thoroughly embarrassed by the whole episode. The internal wars in ZANU-PF are now going to resurface because the MDC is now out of the way," the politburo member said.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, former security minister and Mugabe's chief election agent, told IRIN that investigations had confirmed a plot to sideline Mugabe. If Makoni had won the presidential race, he would have been invited to rejoin ZANU-PF as its leader.
"We have never understood how, in many places, the municipal, parliament and senate would, for example, each receive 90 votes, while President Mugabe would get 30. We can only assume that there was a strategy to campaign against Mugabe," said Mnangagwa, who is regarded as a possible hand-picked successor to Mugabe.
Pro-democracy analyst Takura Zhangazha told IRIN that the divisions within ZANU-PF were now likely to result in a crackdown on those perceived as having opposed Mugabe, and who are now lobbying for accommodation with the MDC.
"We might see a lot of these people perceived as being against Mugabe losing a lot of patronage, such as farms and ministerial appointments, as Mugabe and whoever is the chosen successor seek to consolidate their stranglehold on ZANU-PF. In rural areas the crackdown is likely to continue in order to bring in a new political culture and cow the population into not even daring to think about ever voting for the opposition."
One analyst working for a Western development agency, said: "I see the Mujuru faction, which appears to be on its knees, doing all it can to ensure that the main political parties come together. They could then use this opportunity to win them over and dilute Mnangagwa's influence. For now, there will be a faction in ZANU-PF which might see the benefit of sharing power with the MDC, but all for strategic reasons."