Mugabe: The bitter, low hanging fruit

Never get involved in a spat between family members or you will have egg all over your face.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Generation40, Team Lacoste and War Veterans in all their different factions, are one big family called Zanu PF. As with every family, differences occur and some members are banished and others rebel but there is blood that ties them. That blood for Zanu PF is the Chimurenga War and Military Command Hierarchy.

When General Chiwenga went on television to warn his boss, he was very clear. He was unhappy with things happening in “Our Party.” Johnny-come-latelies had been allowed to take over his beloved Party and this amounted to a criminal act. People that were in the Military Command Hierarchy were being fired from the Party at the instigation of people with no liberation war credentials and this was causing consternation in rank and file. Specifically, the firing of VP ED Mnangagwa had struck a nerve.

This is what caused the general to rebel on his boss and stage a soft coup d’état. Major General SB Moyo was very clear in his televised address on ZBC TV on the morning of the coup. The military was targeting “criminal elements” around President Mugabe. In the eyes of the army, they are not performing a coup but simply putting the house in order. This is not a national event but a Party activity that should be of no concern to broader Zimbabweans, the region and world.

The coup was not clearly thought out or made assumptions that eventually did not come to pass. The assumption that President Mugabe would roll over and play ball obviously did not come to pass. The coup plotters needed him to reinstate former VP Mnangagwa for the plan to work perfectly and events show he did not do that immediately and dragged them into a constitutional crisis. Public sentiment then dragged the generals into a vortex where they have lost the plot.

The military never intended to call for the removal of their commander and in fact have not done so. It was other family members and the public who did that. The march organised by war veterans was a classic case of the plotters losing the plot. Having rebelled against their commander, they could not then prohibit the people from demonstrating against the same commander. The nature of the demonstration also mutated from solidarity with the military to “Mugabe Must Go” and then finally a march to the State Houses in Harare and Bulawayo. The military finally drew a line on unwelcome visits to State Houses by an excitable crowd.

As with any family, the Lacoste faction saw an opportunity to strike and they have been landing blow after blow on a hapless and stricken President Mugabe and his G40 crew who are either on the run, in some kind of prison or generally bemused by the drama. Lacoste hastily convened a meeting that may not have been constitutional according to Zanu PF rules and “recalled the First Secretary and President of Zanu PF, Cde R. G. Mugabe,” with pomp and flair. This was sweet music to the nation.

The people of Zimbabwe wherever they are, and true to character, have focused on the low hanging fruit, the removal of Robert Mugabe from presidency. The people see this as a step forward in their quest for a better future. A lot of people have a bone to grind with him, including white people who still have nightmares from the violent land reform exercise. People are simply not bothered about what happens next and they are reading the situation and not what the generals said.

It is however important to take a peek into the future and see what is most likely to come. Indeed it is difficult to think of the future when you simply want a loaf today but having an idea of what the future may have, is likely to help in planning how to eat the loaf of bread.

The first obvious point is that President Mugabe may not go anywhere. Zanu PF, for all its bravado, knows it is difficult to sell a new name to the rural folk next year. If Mugabe is forced out, Zanu PF’s preferred successor is Mnangagwa. Strategic thinking dictates that he leads an interim administration while he consolidates his hold on the party and he needs to be anointed by Mugabe at congress to have a good hold. Alternatively, Mugabe may prevail and bring in his acerbic wife Grace Mugabe.

The focus on Robert Mugabe by Zimbabweans is a knee-jerk and short-term reactionary thinking that is likely to give life to Zanu PF. Mugabe is one part of a medusa that has dominated our politics for the past 37 years. The real challenge for Zimbabweans is Zanu PF. Zanu PF is abetted by an unfocused opposition lacking strategy and unity but more by a public that does not take time to view the situation and act appropriately. A people always get the leaders they deserve.

Strategic focus dictates that the people and opposition must side with Grace Mugabe and Mugabe himself in this brouhaha. Supporting Mugabe means the electoral time line will not be in doubt. Yes, the opposition will most likely lose in 2018 but if Mugabe leaves the throne to his wife, 2023 will be an even contest. Grace will definitely rub a lot of egos and the military will be forced to do the unthinkable, salute a person who rubbishes their values. She is also most likely to make a further mess of the economy, opening a wider door to the opposition. Most importantly, she will break that Military Command Hierarchy.

Mnangagwa is a formidable opponent for our dithering opposition. The nature of his entry may mean a Transitional Government under his leadership. Tsvangirai has already been making noises for that. While Tsvangirai will be tasked with fixing the economy in another replay of 2008 – 2013, Mnangagwa will be consolidating Zanu PF structures for 2023. It is inevitable that Mnangagwa will win in 2023. After all, he will have his family to help him if the plan goes pear-shape. When faced by an external threat, Zanu PF always regroups and lines its guns on the threat. Most importantly, Zanu PF would have managed transition of power within the party while retaining their Chimurenga code. That in itself will mean Zanu PF being in power for a foreseeable future.

In conclusion, Mugabe may a bitter low hanging fruit best left in the tree. The people and the opposition must suffer him a little longer and possibly his wife, to have a different future. Against all odds, he may fall in 2018, considering the chaos in his party. A good game plan in the opposition may see the army standing aside as the prospect of saluting a woman who does not share their values, may be too much a huddle for those proud generals.

If Mnangagwa prevails and ascends to power, there may be a brief period of tranquillity and prosperity until he is challenged. Then he will revert to form and may be worse than his teacher, Mugabe. For those who think Zanu PF and Mnangagwa will change their tunes, the Shona have a saying, “Shiri ine muririro wayo hairegi.” A bird never changes its whistle.

Source: Fungai Chiposi, Mr.
The Citizen