It was supposed to be the beginning of a new chapter for the party and the end of factional fighting.
Mugabe was supposed to then relax and begin not only to rebuild his tattered image but also to create a firm legacy before exiting the political scene.
As Mujuru disappeared on the Zanu PF horizon, a new grouping of fresh faced party Young Turks emerged.
Allegedly fronted by the likes of Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, reportedly a former Mujuru protégé and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, the group is now known as Generation 40 (G40), a term coined by the former Information minister.
Mujuru’s lieutenants who had been left leaderless within Zanu PF were scurrying for cover as brutal purges raged unabated and the G40 group provided a warm home.
But University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said most Zanu PF members had become opportunists who followed the wind.
“They started being very watchful, but could have preferred the G40 group because of the perceived opposition to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” he said.
“But some even likely crossed the floor to join the ‘Lacoste’ faction (as Mnangagwa’s faction is known in Zanu PF lingo).
“This is clear testimony that there are no permanent friends or alliances in politics.
“There are coalitions and counter-coalitions depending on the configuration of politics within that week, month or year. It now depends on how the wind is blowing.”
Masunungure’s explanation could help demystify the situation in which ministers Makhosini Hlongwane, Tapiwa Matangaidze and Annastacia Ndhlovu, all from the Midlands and previously linked to Mnangagwa’s faction are reportedly now rooting for G40.
The trio is now reported to be in the line of fire after they penned a damning letter to the Zanu PF national leadership alleging that they were being victimised for “refusal to accept an alternative narrative”.
The Midlands provincial leadership, miffed by the three’s move, is reportedly set to meet and decide to “suspend the trio for causing unnecessary tension between the president and vice-president”.
Elsewhere in Mashonaland East the likes of Beata Nyamupinga, Edgar Mbwembwe and Ambrose Mutinhiri, all former known allies of Mujuru, but spared the guillotine are now openly associated with G40.
In Manicaland there is Nyasha Chikwinya , Samuel Undenge and his wife Letina.
Academic and publisher Ibbo Mandaza said G40 should be looked in the frame of a loose coalition that does not have a social base but boasts of support from Mugabe.
“The G40 group is a creation of Mugabe constructed to undercut Mnangagwa,” he said.
“If Mugabe really wanted Mnangagwa to be his successor he should have been doing everything in his power to protect him from the incessant attacks perpetrated by the likes of Jonathan Moyo and others from the G40 group.
“Kasukuwere, Moyo, Zhuwao and others are Mugabe’s storm troopers created to deal with Mnangagwa and finish him politically.”
Another political watcher Maxwell Saungweme said there could be hope within remnants of the Mujuru faction in Zanu PF that the former vice-president might make a dramatic comeback and forming alliances with G40 was logical.
“In the Zanu PF circles, many are still very loyal to Mujuru, I mean many of those that remained in that party after the purges,” he said.
“Mujuru to them remains the hope given her unquestionable liberation war credentials, her age and also that many feel she is a victim of unscrupulous political manoeuvres by scheming elements in that party.
“In politics it is expedient to have marriages of convenience to scatter a common enemy. It is therefore logical for the Mujuru allies in the party to hold hands with G40 to fight Ngwena (Mnangagwa) and once Ngwena is gone the party will even be weaker and Mujuru’s formation will gain more power and supporters in the face of a weakened Zanu PF.
“It is a marriage of convenience that is politically expedient and will end once Ngwena is ravaged,” Saungweme said.
The G40 group has also reportedly secured the support of a loose coalition of influential Zanu PF women known as “the Golden Girls” that includes Senate president Edna Madzongwe, Public Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira and Sarah Mahoka (Women’s League secretary for finance).
Whispers from within the ruling party that have turned into ugly fistfights indicate that even the G40 slogan of “Munhu wese kuna amai (all support to the First Lady)” is in fact a call to support Mujuru’s come-back bid”.
Top Zanu PF sources claim that G40 leaders are holding fort in trust for Mujuru as and when it is feasible for her to return to the party.
It remains to be seen if there is still a chance for Mujuru to take charge of Zanu PF.
But Mujuru’s interim spokesperson Rugare Gumbo last year declared that his boss would not return to the ruling party.
“We have left Zanu PF for good and there is no turning back. We are going to form a political party known as People First or a political movement if you like. Mujuru is going around the country telling people the launch is near,” said Gumbo matter-of-factly.
Former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairperson, Temba Mliswa an ex-key Mujuru allay last year claimed Mujuru was working with G40.
“Mujuru and the other old people (Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa) will only be useful in Zanu PF. Actually, I am working hard engaging some people to have them readmitted into Zanu PF,” Mliswa said then.
“The G40 has realised that it is losing grip, they are losing the internal war with Mnangagwa because the on-going restructuring exercise has left Mnangagwa firmly in charge.
“His people are in charge of Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East hence they have turned to Mujuru for help”.
Zanu PF purges against Mujuru’s perceived supporters continue countrywide.