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Is Zanu PF splitting up?
October 25, 2006

Since last October, plenty of column space has been devoted to the split in the MDC. The subject has been debated and discussed ad nauseam in the streets, on commuter omnibuses, and in the independent and government press. Not surprisingly, the government mouthpieces, the Herald and the Chronicle, have rapturously embraced this topic. Not surprising, we say, because the split was assisted by Zanu PF and the CIO, and has successfully diverted attention away from the shambles that this country is in, courtesy of the regime's consistent failure on all accounts. Zanu PF itself is riven by splits, as a careful reading of the newspapers will show; how convenient for them to be able to divert attention from their own splits by looking at the rifts in the MDC!

So, in defiance of their strategy, we draw our eyes away from the opposition, and refocus on the ruling party, Zanu PF, the true cause of the country's woes.

The cracks that are apparent have appeared along three main fault lines: firstly, the scapegoats or sacrificial lambs such as Christopher Kuruneri and even Philip Chiyangwa; secondly, there is a strong link to the succession debate as bigwigs jostle for the top job of President, and their minions line up behind them; and thirdly, the inevitable casualties from internecine warfare caused by personal ambition and regional turf wars.

The scapegoats
Christopher Kuruneri must be the shortest-lived Finance Minister ever: he was appointed in February 2004, and just a couple of weeks thereafter was arrested and charged with illegally exporting foreign currency, under the Exchange Control Act. The media had a field day unearthing various properties in South Africa purported to be owned by him, including some palatial houses in Cape Town. He spent nearly 18 months behind bars and, in July 2005, was released from remand prison and placed under 24 hour house arrest at his Glen Lorne home. His trial was postponed indefinitely in September last year owing to his poor health. He is also still awaiting sentence following his conviction on a separate charge of breaching the Citizenship Act.

In view of the known excesses and suspected misdemeanors of others in the Zanu PF camp, why was Kuruneri selected for such treatment? The immediate answer that comes to mind is that the ruling party wanted to be seen to be acting to stamp out corruption, even within its own ranks. Hence a scapegoat had to be found who, in biblical terminology, would bear the punishment of many. By exposing one of their own, and making him face the full wrath of the law, the regime could claim that it was truly intent on defeating the Zimbabwean scourge of corruption, and attempt to show the international community (not least the IMF) that it was truly committed to this path. Such headline news also provided - and this type of news continues to provide - a welcome diversionary tactic from whatever else the regime wanted to hide from the eyes of the public it is supposed to serve.

However, from what appeared to be its initial role as a means to provide scapegoats, the anti-corruption drive of the ruling party has gathered momentum and is a useful means of publicly punishing those who might find themselves out of favour with the power-brokers of the regime. It is also a very effective way of reining in all Zanu bigwigs and associates, using threats and fear to limit their power.

The man in charge of all this, Paul Mangwana (Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Minister), said government had re-invigorated the anti-corruption drive which would result in a number of high-profile personalities being arraigned before the courts, no doubt instilling fear into the hearts of many. It surely serves Mugabe's interests to keep everyone on their toes, none too confident and all thoroughly subservient, confirming the need to impose a unity of fear where there is no true unity.

Those who have recently been punished include Bright Matonga (Deputy Information Minister), Charles Nherera (Chairman of Zupco), John Bredenkamp (controversial tycoon and long-time friend of Zanu PF) and Samuel Muvuti (acting CEO of the GMB). Even Emmerson Mnangagwa, the one-time heir apparent, has been under investigation.

Bright Matonga and Charles Nherera were arrested in July this year on corruption charges. The two are accused of having received USD10 000 each from a Mr Jayesh Shah to enable Shah to supply Zupco (the state-run transport company - and for "state" here, read "Zanu PF") with new busses. Nherera has also just recently been convicted in another corruption case involving soliciting a USD5 000 bribe for each bus supplied to Zupco by Shah. Ruling party sources said the arrest of Matonga had sent tremors through the Zanu PF establishment, indicating the levels of fear among them and, as evidence of the spreading net, the lawyers of the accused have asked Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to specify and investigate Shah, the state's key witness in both their cases. This comes 2 weeks after the lawyer issued an ultimatum to the Attorney General's office demanding an explanation as to why Shah was granted immunity from prosecution in the graft case, and asking the question: "…why is Mr Shah an apparent sacred cow?"

Samuel Muvuti, the acting CEO of the Grain Marketing Board parastatal (GMB) was arrested in August and charged under the country's Prevention of Corruption Act. He is alleged to have used workers from the grain company to work on his private farm in northern Zimbabwe. Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for the MDC (Tsvangirai) said the arrest of Muvuti confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that the ruling Zanu PF party was the "breeding ground of corruption" and unbridled political patronage.

"The MDC believes that his arrest is a token attempt by a cornered regime to be seen to be taking action on a serious scourge that has taken root in the higher echelons of Zanu PF and the government… Muvuti and …Nherera are just but small fish in a bigger pond replete with corrupt sharks and tigers… A genuine commitment to arrest unbridled corruption would basically mean this regime would have to incarcerate itself".

On that same subject, we think too of the use of huge numbers of civil servants and other government employees working on Mugabe's various farms, courtesy of Minister Made (as ever out to ingratiate himself with his patron). How does this regime have the temerity to charge Muvuti for offences which the dictator brazenly commits on a grand scale and without any questions raised?

The succession debate

Conventional wisdom has it that the two principal contenders for the top job were Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru, but a third has lately joined the fray: Gideon Gono.

Until the end of 2004, the heir-apparent to the Mugabe throne was Emmerson Mnangagwa - that is to say, in Mugabe's eyes, he was heir-apparent; he had many fellow contenders, but none appeared to have won Mugabe's favour in the same way. That all changed with what has now become known as the Tsholotsho Declaration, where dissenting heavy-weights like Mnangagwa, Jonathan Moyo and 6 provincial chairpersons were flushed out, caught in an apparent plot to orchestrate Mugabe's stepping down from power, and a new person stepping in.

Mnangagwa was, until four years ago, the holder of the keys to Zanu PF's business empire, but has since been replaced. Tied in to the anti-corruption drive is what is seen as a mission to push this man, the former Secretary for Administration, out of Zanu PF's succession stakes. Internal and external audits into Zanu PF companies have been threatened, as one of the main bases for the fresh blitz on corruption. John Bredenkamp has also been targeted and recently arrested but subsequently acquitted on charges of holding two passports - he was cited as a financier of his erstwhile ally Mnangagwa in a report allegedly compiled for Mugabe by former State Security Minister Nicholas Goche in the wake of the November 2004 Tsholotsho meeting. It was alleged that he had provided billions of dollars to fund Mnangagwa's campaign to become vice-president and eventually to succeed Mugabe. Bredenkamp has denied the claims but senior Zanu PF officials, in particular the faction led by retired army commander, General Solomon Mujuru, continue to view him with suspicion.

The media reports that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono also has presidential aspirations. Until quite recently just a prominent banker, Gono has risen to power as head of the RBZ and clearly someone close to the ear of Mugabe. It is reported that Gono has provoked a storm of anger in ruling Zanu PF circles, not only angling for the presidency, but also taking upon himself powers beyond those normally given to the head of a country's central bank, and straying into the domain of fiscal, rather than purely monetary, policies. Whatever Gono's credentials as Governor of the RBZ, his most striking feature observed by ordinary Zimbabweans is his total subservience to Mugabe and his political agenda - a banker therefore trying to do the impossible, and not having the courage to confront the main cause of the country's economic plight.

The Mujuru camp is said to be seething with anger at Gono over the new currency and has vowed to fight him to the end; they have also complained that Gono has been attacking their business interests by closing banks and companies. Just after the new currency was introduced, a group of angry ministers was apparently heard at a local restaurant in the Avenues, saying "Gono has gone too far and must be stopped now!" They were enraged because as members of cabinet they were not aware that new bearers cheques were being introduced on the Tuesday, the same day that cabinet meets, and when Gono announced the issue in Parliament, ministers appeared shocked. It appears that only Mugabe and the army and CIO knew about this in advance, which was seen by Zanu PF members as an indication that Gono had become embedded with Mugabe, and with state security and the army - widely seen in ruling party ranks as the building blocks to power. Interestingly, Gono remarked at a public meeting in Bulawayo, shortly after the launch of the new currency, that he would not be intimidated by people brandishing liberation war credentials, a statement seen as targeted directly at the Mujuru camp.

Gono has not endeared himself either to Herbert Murerwa: not even Murerwa, the Finance Minister, had been consulted in advance on the new currency initiative! Mutumna Mawere, a now-exiled top Zimbabwean businessman, comments: "Through a combination of patronage and intimidation, Gono is now a feared man in Zimbabwe. He is effectively the CEO of Zimbabwe Inc. and has effective control of the state machinery and anyone who dares challenge him risks a lot".

Until recently Vice-President Joice Mujuru appeared to be the front-runner in the succession stakes, it now appears that her plans have been torpedoed by her rivals: Mnangagwa and Gono. Even her own husband now appears to concede that she does not have what it takes to run the country and Zanu PF.

The issue of who is to succeed Mugabe is clearly causing mighty divisions within the party, although one commentator noted that to expect Mugabe's voluntary retirement is day-dreaming, when he no longer trusts anyone. As The Standard newspaper reported at the beginning of September, "the false ray of hope created by misguided reports on Mugabe encouraging Zanu PF members to discuss his succession should be contextualized; those who dared to democratically influence the composition of the presidium were humiliated, sacked, demoted, managed, jailed and forgotten. Ask Prof Jonathan Moyo." In the meantime, the party is splitting along its main fault lines.

Personal ambitions and turf wars
Politics is a dirty game for the unscrupulous. It is therefore a good place to get even with one's enemy; certainly a good opportunity to wash someone else's dirty linen in a public place.

Perhaps the most bizarre and unlikely of all the divisions emerging in the ruling party is that public example currently being made of Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice. Rather, as with Mnangagwa, it would have seemed inconceivable a few short years ago for someone so close to Mugabe to be allowed to be taken to court. Justice simply would not have prevailed, and any valid legal case would have been dropped quietly; it follows then, that the court case against Chinamasa has almost certainly been sanctioned by the top man himself.

Chinamasa has been brought to court in a complicated legal case, or rather series of cases. The background is as follows: James Kaunye, a war veteran, himself facing attempted murder charges, brought a charge against the supporters of Didymus Mutasa (National Security and Land Reform Minister), accusing those supporters of attacking him to try to stop him from running against Mutasa in the Zanu PF primary elections; those supporters have since been convicted of this crime; Chinamasa has now been charged by the state ("the state" - note carefully!) of trying to get Kaunye to withdraw the charges against Mutasa's supporters, promising him a senatorial seat if he did not challenge Mutasa.

An added twist to the already complicated tale is that magistrates in Rusape refused to preside over Patrick Chinamasa's trial, alleging that Mutasa had accused them of being MDC members!

Chinamasa was acquitted in early September after the court ruled that the state had dismally failed to prove a prima-facie case against him. However appeal papers have now been filed at the High Court, as the Attorney General claims that the lower court had erred in its judgement. Interestingly, after his acquittal, Chinamasa spoke to journalists and said that the motive of his prosecution was to humiliate and embarrass him and to cause him to be kicked out of the system. Clearly Chinamasa has fallen from grace. Not only so, but for reasons best known to themselves, those who wield effective power under Mugabe are clearly determined to fix him.

All sorts of other ministers, senators and Zanu PF followers have also been reported as being at loggerheads with each other, often in petty personal or regional vendettas. These don't have the national implications of, say, the succession debate, but they do portray a party which is hopelessly divided. Such an outcome is hardly surprising, given that ZANU PF has no other real core convictions now, apart from the frenzied desire to stay in power and to plunder whatever national resources remain: the only unity possible is that imposed by the Godfather over the Mafia.

First, there's the regional infighting detailed earlier in this article concerning Bright Matonga and the Zupco chairman, Nherera, which has its roots in the Mashonaland West power struggles. Matonga is involved in a fight for land with farmer Tom Beattie, a self-confessed financier of the ruling party; it seems that senior Zanu PF officials in the province had sided with Beattie in the struggle, and "Matonga is paying the price", we are told.

Then, still in Mashonaland West, Hurungwe West MP Cecilia Dausi Gwachiwa has been suspended, as she is suspected of cohabiting with a suspected MDC sympathizer - the newspapers have had fun with this one! The provincial executive, led by John Mafa, is seeking her ouster from the ruling party, but it seems that tribalism and regionalism were behind Gwachiwa's ordeal, as she is viewed as an outsider, coming originally from Manicaland. Heavily armed security agents have also stormed her government-allocated farm allegedly in search of weapons. Constituency members say that the incident was indicative of how the Zanu PF leadership in Mashonaland West was determined to kick Gwachiwa out of the party by raising "petty" personal issues against her.

Thirdly, we have the long-standing regional turf war being played out in the City of Harare, where the residents are the only losers, and there are no winners. Zanu PF's Harare province Secretary for Information and Publicity is reported as saying that there was concern among party members over Chombo's continued appointment of people from Mashonaland West to the commission running the affairs of the City of Harare; Chombo is the Minister for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. There has been a recent, unprecedented, outburst from the Zanu PF executive in the capital, condemning Makwavarara's administration at Town House (she crossed the floor twice - once from Zanu PF to the MDC, and then back again, and has been put in charge of the interim commission appointed to run the City of Harare following the ouster of the MDC mayor). Zanu PF central committee members in Harare have publicly given her a vote of no confidence, but further action against her has been forestalled by Chombo's dogged defence of her and the party's concerns over an all-out war. The powers that be in the Harare province of the ruling party believe that Makwavarara does not have the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the city, once dubbed Sunshine City.

It is reported to be Zanu PF politburo member Tendai Savanhu (believed to harbour ambitions to run the affairs of the city himself), versus Makwavarara and Chombo. Savanhu appears to be the force behind the Zanu PF faction baying for the lady's blood.

The crux of the matter is in this: Zanu PF Harare province has said that the continued extension of the Makwavarara commission's term would jeopardize the ruling party's chances of making an impact in any election in Harare. Now that is something of great concern to Zanu PF, who are determined not to relinquish power for fear of the benefits they will lose, and for fear that their past sins will be uncovered by a new regime. "Makwavarara's case is being discussed in the highest echelons of Zanu PF….", we're told - we can believe it!

And not to be outdone, Matabeleland has its fair share of regional infighting too. Andrew Langa (the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, and MP for Insiza) has reported his Zanu PF colleague Sithembiso Nyoni to the Police (Nyoni is the Minister of Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises and Development - the one who can't seem to win any election of her own). Langa alleges that Nyoni threatened him on the phone following a farmers' meeting in Fort Rixon to discuss stock theft. At that meeting, Langa apparently told the farmers that senior politicians in the area were behind the stock thefts, but did not mention any names; Nyoni saw this as a personal attack, and thence followed the phone call leading to the charge against her.

And party members from the Women's League demonstrated against the MP for Bubi Umguza, Obert Mpofu, on allegations of untoward behaviour against the party members and leadership. Only the Zanu PF National Chairman, John Nkomo, seems to have seen the light, calling for unity of purpose among party members and the leadership in Matabeleland North province, and urging them to desist from gossip which is threatening to destroy the party.

What do we make of all of this?
There are indeed implications in all of this for both the party and for individuals within the party (including, of course, Mugabe).

As mentioned above, the only voice of reason (looking at it from the Zanu PF side) appears to be John Nkomo. Interviewed recently in the government paper, The Sunday News, Nkomo called on the party to remain united at all times, following with the warning:

"…but as we pursue this spirit of openness, let us do so in the spirit of building the party, our party. Let it be constructive criticism. I am against rumour-mongers. There are some of the people [sic] who peddle lies and in so doing contribute toward the disintegration of the party….Mind you, those calling for the regime change are looking at the cracks that could be coming up. Let us make sure that no cracks come in to divide us. Let us be one, but there must be openness among party members. Nobody is bigger than the party."

This is the party that got its biggest fright ever in the 2000 Parliamentary Elections, where the opposition MDC gained 57 of the 120 elected seats - an unprecedented challenge to a party that has been largely unopposed since Independence in 1980. Despite its impressive wins, the MDC was cheated, as the regime rigged the results not only in this election, but also in the 2002 Presidential Election and again in the 2005 Parliamentary Election. Had they been free and fair, and that means a free and fair environment too, Zanu PF did not have any hope of winning any of these elections. It simply does not have the support of the people any longer. And the wise among them know this.

So the cracks, yea rifts, that are appearing in the regime are vigorously ringing the alarm bells in the corridors of power. How long can a party which is riven by in-fighting go on?

Zanu PF as we have known it for the last 26 years is busy imploding.

Mugabe himself does not have a future - he is a pathetic old man, rattling on about liberation politics and the conspiracies of the West. It is time for him to step down, but his party is not yet clear on who should replace him.

Perhaps the most important evidence of the deep cancer within Zanu PF's body politic came a few weeks ago when the Zanu PF Secretary for Information Nathan Shamuyarira announced that plans were being considered for Mugabe's term to be extended from 2008 to 2010. Within days Mutasa debunked that idea and said there were no such plans. Shamuyarira was then forced to try to save face by saying he was "misquoted" - that wonderful hiding place politicians try to use when they have been publicly humiliated.

Let us make the point that there can be no greater crisis within any political party than a disagreement over how long a party leader should remain in office. One just has to look at the furor created in Britain over when Tony Blair will stand down to see what divisions such a debate can cause within a political party. But of course that has happened in the Labour Party, a party which for all its faults does not settle its differences using AK 47s.

Zanu PF on the other hand has a long history of settling its internal problems and political contestations violently. The stakes are now very high because there is clearly a fundamental disagreement as to when Mugabe himself should go. Clearly some want his term to end in 2008 whereas others want him to continue until 2010.

It is not fanciful to speculate that it is the Mujuru faction which is happy for Mugabe's term to be extended for it is that faction that needs more time now that Joice Mujuru hasn't worked out as they had hoped. They are the ones that need more time to get an acceptable candidate in place. On the other hand Mnangagwa appears to be gaining the upper hand within Zanu PF and his faction are clearly happy to see the back of Mugabe by 2008 so that Mnangagwa can contest for the leadership of Zanu PF and the presidency of Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa appears to be pulling out all the stops - the recent reports that he is behind the arrests of businessmen (thus further harming the economy) and the evictions of productive farmers in Chipinge and Kwe Kwe (also further damaging the economy) indicate that he is doing all he can to undermine Joice Mujuru's efforts to resuscitate the economy. That, although despicable, is politically understandable, because if Mrs Mujuru manages to stabilise the economy prior to her run for the top job in 2008 her chances of succeeding will be greater. However, and conversely, if during her "watch" the economy continues to crumble, that will enhance Mnangagwa's claim that he is the only Zanu PF leader who has the business acumen to turn the country around.

But all of this is of course a high risk strategy. One cannot help but think of all the frantic maneuvering of the Nazis in the final days of the Third Reich. Himmler, Goebels and Bormann were consumed with jealousy in Hitler's final days over the question of who would succeed Hitler and lead the "next Nazi government". These power struggles took place as late as April 1945 when Russian tanks were only a few blocks away from the Fuhrer bunker. To all objective observers the power struggle was an absolutely pointless exercise as there was no possibility that the Nazis would survive the Allied onslaught - but jostle for power they did even in the final days.

State House in Harare may not have Russian tanks anywhere in its vicinity but there are other hostile tanks around - such as inflation, economic collapse and the mounting anger of the people. The days of this regime are numbered and the increasing infighting within Zanu PF is the surest sign of its impending collapse.

As for the country, the divisions and splits can only be good news, presaging the end of a regime which has dealt out death and destruction - quite literally - to millions. Its demise cannot come too soon. If there is to be any hope of beginning to repair the terrible damage that Zanu PF has inflicted upon Zimbabwe there must be fresh elections, held soon and under credible international supervision, to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe, as distinct from a privileged clique of discredited politicians, can pass their (long delayed) judgment on this delinquent regime and usher in an altogether new dispensation based on justice and the rule of law.

We hope that a time will come in the not too distant future, when we can go to the polls again; not amidst violence and intimidation and cheating, but peacefully, and supervised by impartial, international observers.

We need democracy, and the demise of the present Zanu PF power structure is a pre-requisite for that fundamental shift.

We need an end to Zanu PF as we know it. We need peace, stability and prosperity. Let us work together to make this happen. Viva Zimbabwe!

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