By BRANDON JOSPHAT
ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday intimated that he would shake-up the ruling party Zanu PF’s politburo team ahead of next year’s national elections.
This would likely include redeploying some current members of the powerful organ to other party portfolios, and in other cases jettisoning those deemed to be ineffective as Zanu PF prepares for the crunch polls.
Addressing the current politburo team in Harare yesterday as Zanu PF marked the start of the ruling party’s elective congress, Mnangagwa thanked the outgoing members for the work that they did during their tenure, while imploring them to be content with whatever position they would get after congress.
“In whatever portfolios the party assigns us in the future, let us maintain the momentum we have demonstrated to date, while at the same time providing appropriate guidance to lower structures of the party.
“No matter our portfolios in the future, let us remain unflinching and consistent as loyal, patriotic and committed members of Zanu PF, emboldened by the fact that in our party leaders at every level are servants of the people.
“As such, the most important position in Zanu PF is to be a card-carrying member,” Mnangagwa said as he appeared to prepare the current team for the anticipated overhaul.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa also said “in spite of the deleterious impact of sanctions,” the government was moving ahead in delivering the promises that the ruling party had made with regards to the development of the country.
He also called for unity of purpose, which he said was the only way Zanu PF could triumph in the forthcoming general elections.
“The party is vibrant and alive. We are a train that cannot be stopped.
“The enthusiasm which is shown across the party amply demonstrates that Zanu PF is alive and remains the only true defender of the democracy that we fought for and brought about.
“We are a party for the people and from the people.
“Hence, this 7th national people’s congress must consolidate our intra-party unity and democracy towards the rejuvenation of our revolutionary party and also for the accelerated modernisation and industrialisation of our great country.
“Equally, now is the opportune time to sharpen comprehensive strategies and a resounding victory in the forthcoming 2023 harmonised general elections,” Mnangagwa added.
This comes after political analysts said Mnangagwa had consolidated his grip on power in Zanu PF following the recent central committee elections in which new faces and some forgotten old-timers joined the party’s supreme decision-making body outside the former liberation movement’s congress.
Speaking to the Daily News after the internal polls, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said the return of the old guard in particular effectively thwarted Mnangagwa’s political rivals from advancing their agendas ahead of the 2023 elections.
“My interpretation is that ED has been on a concerted campaign to ‘rehabilitate’ erstwhile rivals, provided they repented and did the right thing, to lend their unquestionable support and loyalty to him personally rather than to the party.
“ED is, as it were, leaving no one and no place behind in his recruitment strategy. He is emptying the pond and ensuring that his rivals will have nowhere to fish from.
“In all this, his strategy has been to leave no stone unturned in his march towards the 2023 elections,” Masunungure said.
He added that the results of the central committee elections gave Mnangagwa significant advantage over his foes ahead of both the party’s congress and next year’s national elections.
“The old guard is back … because of ED’s support, which was probably on condition that they play ball.
“Some of the rehabilitated people in Chipinge, for example, were actually die-hard supporters of Ndabaningi Sithole’s Zanu Ndonga, which was for a long time Zanu PF’s bête noire.
“Sithole himself has since been rehabilitated post-humously as a national hero,” Masunungure said.
Senior lecturer at South Africa’s Tshwane University of Technology, Ricky Mukonza, also said Mnangagwa was trying to renew Zanu PF and by doing so consolidating his power.
“I think the composition of the Zanu PF central committee shows politics at play.
“The coming back of the old guard is meant to demonstrate that everyone is now accepting ED as the president of the party. It gives the impression of factions re-uniting under him.
“The introduction of new faces is an effort to demonstrate that the party is not stagnant, and that it’s accommodating even the young blood like former Zanu PF youth league heavyweight Lewis Matutu.
“The retention of those that have been part of the CC since ED took over is also meant to maintain stability and to reward loyalty.
“One sees a political balancing act in what transpired.
“This gives the impression that this is a yester-year party that is failing to nurture new leaders to take it forward,” Mukonza said.
On his part, senior consultant for southern Africa at the International Crisis Group, Piers Pigou said the outcome of the CC elections showed that former party bigwigs who previously resisted Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to the country’s presidency had now come to terms with reality.
“As we know from the old adage, it is cold outside of Zanu PF. Even rabidly anti-ED elements such as (former ruling party secretary for administration) Didymus Mutasa limped back with their tails between their legs.
“All this also demonstrates a vote of no confidence in possible alternatives,” Pigou said.
All this also comes after Zanu PF reiterated that Mnangagwa won’t be contested at this week’s elective congress.
Speaking last week on independent national television station 3Ktv’s popular news and current affairs programme, Vantage, Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa, said Mnangagwa had been endorsed by all party members, from the grassroots levels up to the national executive.
Mutsvangwa added that Mnangagwa’s endorsement by all tiers of the party effectively shut the door on ambitious bigwigs who might have hoped to spring a surprise at the congress.
“Everybody had their chance to give themself, to present themself as a candidate. You cannot just come from nowhere in Zanu PF.
“Tinobvunza kuti urikubva kupi, structure haikuzive (we will ask you where you are coming from, because the structures don’t know you).
“Why did you not put your ideas during the consultative process of the democratic institutions as we were moving towards the congress?
“There are people who believe that the party should be like a secret society where you can ambush people.
“You see, when you make decisions consciously like what Zanu PF does, we don’t entertain ambushes because in a party that has structures and organisational history, you don’t accept ambushes,” Mutsvangwa said then. – Daily News