ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe is likely to cancel, his party’s elective congress slated for December, amid reports that the ailing leader has received directives, from hardline securocrats to abort the important meeting.
The Zanu PF congress had hitherto, been expected to elect a new party presidium regime, with Vice President Joice Mujuru, largely expected to retain her post, and confirm her power takeover from Mugabe, who is due to step down anytime from now, party insiders have said.
Mugabe himself was also set for re-election unopposed, as none of the competing faction leaders, namely Mujuru and secretary for legal affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, appear to have the guts to throw their hats in the ring while he is still alive.
According to an incumbent minister aware of the new developments, Mugabe is said to have met with his justice minister, Mnangagwa, who still heads the Joint Operations Command (JOC) and security services chiefs this week in Harare, where he was told to use his powers to cancel the December congress, and allow the military to take things from there, in managing his explosive succession race “without causing unnecessary bloodshed” or “civil instability” in the country.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, is believed to be the one spearheading the campaign, to have the crucial Zanu PF congress completely disbanded, so as to allow him, alongside a coterie of service chiefs such as police boss, Augustine Chihuri, to carefully manage, Mnangagwa’s way to power before the end of the year.
“Things are beginning to hot up, and I can confirm your information,” said the cabinet minister. “We know that, the president this week met with the army generals, for what many thought was a routine security briefing, but we understand he was given directives to cancel the Zanu PF congress, so they could manage a smooth passage for him to leave office. ED (Mnangagwa’s nickname among cabinet colleagues) was also present, because he was heading a JOC meeting, and it is during this symposium that the issue, was raised on the agenda. It is now in fact being treated as an urgent national security item, and I can tell you today that Mujuru is unfortunately going nowhere near the State House.”
“Our media is dead, and playing to the ploy of the intelligence machinery, which wants them to feed the public sphere with illusions about, the congress taking place. You hear that Zim 1 (Mugabe) is contesting the elections in 2018, what a hallucination? The press is being sold a dummy. You know our leader is not feeling well, and I thought by now, you journalists should be writing stories about, who is coming to power, because at this juncture you don’t need, to be sitting in cabinet next to me, to discern the next president of our great nation.”
However, the Mujuru camp is preferring to die on it’s feet, than to live on it’s knees, amid indications that, the VP’s top ally and Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, is ratcheting up preparations for the congress. Mutasa is one of the few long serving government ministers, suspected to be encouraging Mugabe to go the long haul, for a life presidency.
“Mugabe is here to stay, and we shall do everything in our power, to make that happen,” said a Zanu PF central committee member aligned to Mujuru. “The party constitution is clear on who is next in line, to take the leadership of Zanu PF and this country. It’s not about seniority, but the hierarchy, and ones location in the presidium. Those baying for the vice president’s blood, are aware that come December, they will be out of employment, as they will lose their current posts.”
According to a Zanu PF website, congress: “Elects the President and first Secretary, Two Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries of the Party, as well as members of the Central Committee. It formulates, pronounce and declare all Policies of the Party and has the power and authority to amend the Constitution. The Congress, which meets once every fives years, is the Supreme and Ultimate Authority for implementation and supervision of the Policies, Directives, Rules and Regulation of the Party.”
This is not the first time that Chiwenga has arm-twisted Mugabe, into taking and implementing military instruction from the hardliners, ahead of Mugabe’s own political contigency measures. One of the many Wiki-Leaks cables on Zimbabwe, denote that Chiwenga demanded Mugabe to “reverse course” and contest a runoff election, after suffering defeat from Morgan Tsvangirai in the 2008 presidential plebiscite. Mugabe was reported to have been on the verge of conceding defeat to Tsvangirai, when Chiwenga literally threatened a military putsch, if Mugabe surrendered power to the former prime minister.
Mugabe is now effectively hostage to his security chief’s demands for continuity, and a maintenance of the status quo, ruling party officials said yesterday. They also contend that, the ailing leader is no longer fully in control, with much of the government’s day-to-day affairs being run by military and security chiefs. Mugabe is said to be, currently “out of touch with what is happening on the ground”, while Chiwenga and Mnangagwa run a quasi parallel government, under the umbrella of JOC.
JOC, consists of the heads of the army, air force, prison services and intelligence. It coordinates military and security affairs of the nation, and many observers believe it carries more clout than Mugabe and his cabinet.