via Focus on succession after election rout by Bloomberg
AS President Robert Mugabe starts a new five-year term in office focus in his Zanu PF party has shifted to the succession battle which is said to pit top lieutenants, vice president Joice Mujuru against defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“The succession issue remains a challenge to the party,” Patrick Chinamasa, a Zanu PF politburo member and justice minister, said last week.
“We are fully cognizant of the divisive nature of the succession issue. We need to deal with it without losing cohesion.”
With the backing of many in the armed forces, intelligence and police chiefs, Mnangagwa would probably focus on keeping military leaders in control of diamond fields and some of the country’s best farmland, according to analysts including Mark Rosenberg of Eurasia Group and Gilbert Khadiagala of South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.
Mujuru may seek to repair relations with the international community to boost her faction’s investments in banking and retail, Rosenberg said.
“Mujuru and her allies are vested in industries like finance, retail and hospitality that demand more rational policies to grow,” Rosenberg said.
In 2000 Mugabe launched the country’s controversial land reforms which are blamed for the decade-long crisis in which the economy slumped 39 percent and inflation soared to an estimated 500 billion percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.
But the veteran leader won the July 31 president race with 61 percent of the vote, which his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, described as a “farce” because of alleged rigging.
After casting his vote, Mugabe, who has denied reports that he’s received treatment for prostate cancer but has had medical check-ups in Singapore several times, said he would serve out his term.
During his 33 years in power, the veteran leader has controlled the internal struggles in Zanu PF over ethnic rivalry and patronage.
Mujuru would probably dilute Mugabe’s program known as indigenisation that seeks to force foreign-owned companies and banks to cede 51 of the shares in their local operations to blacks or the government, Rosenberg said.
But there are “too many tensions and divisions for Mugabe to step down,” International Crisis Group researcher Trevor Maisiri said. “The succession battle is going to be more intense than it was before.”
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have been in Mugabe’s cabinet since independence in 1980.
Mnangagwa has served as head of the ministries of security, justice and rural housing and as the speaker of Parliament.
He was the chief of intelligence when Mugabe ordered the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crack down on rebels in the Matabeleland Midlands regions in the 1980s, resulting in the death of as many as 20,000 civilians from the Ndebele ethnic minority.
At 25, Mujuru became the country’s youngest minister working her way up to vice-president in 2004. Her husband, Solomon Mujuru, led the main liberation army during the independence war and was the country’s first army chief. He died in 2011 in a fire at his home.
Legally Mujuru, 58, is first in line to succeed Mugabe.
“She represents the gentler mode of contemporary politics – unifying, motherly, compassionate and national,” Ibbo Mandaza, a former Mujuru adviser who’s the director of political analysis group, the Sapes Trust, said.
“She’s the kind of person who would require and rely on a good team of advisers. She’s pragmatic, she listens.”
Mnangagwa, 66, is the chief of the joint operations command. He can draw on the support of powerful figures including defence forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, ZRP head Augustine Chihuri, and Happyton Bonyongwe, who runs the Central Intelligence Organisation, Rosenberg said.
The military controls parts of the eastern Marange diamond field, according to non-profit groups such as New York-based Human Rights Watch and Partnership Africa Canada. A parliamentary committee said in June said tens of millions of dollars in diamond revenue hasn’t been paid to the Treasury.
Mnangagwa is “the typical strongman and therefore likely to be very ruthless. He’s not given to entertaining debate,” Mandaza said.
On the economy, he’s “pragmatic,” he said. “He’s never been part of the indigenization campaign.”
Mugabe’s choice of who sits in his new cabinet in the coming says should indicate which faction has the upper hand.
“We are waiting to see how the securocrats, who are responsible for the election outcome, will show their hand now,” Mandaza said.