Source: Mnangagwa interview divides opinion – DailyNews Live 8 January 2017
HARARE – The debate continues to rage furiously among analysts and within
warring Zanu PF about the wisdom of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa
granting a controversial interview to British publication, the New
Statesman, last week.
Although Mnangagwa did not admit, as usual, that he wants to succeed
President Robert Mugabe in the interview, former Cabinet minister and war
veterans leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa – who is also one of the Midlands
godfather’s most vociferous supporters – was emphatic in the same New
Statesman story that the VP would “100 percent” be Zimbabwe’s next
But perhaps even more problematic for Mnangagwa, a secret Zanu PF document
which was passed on to the New Statesman at the time of the VP’s interview
suggested, damningly, that Mugabe himself created the ruling party’s
Generation 40 (G40) faction as the nonagenarian had allegedly “always felt
threatened by VP Mnangagwa and the prospect of his presidency being
outshined by that of his protege”.
In addition, Mnangagwa also appeared to create more problems for himself
in the interview. As he absolved himself of any culpability in the
Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s, in which an estimated 20 000
innocent civilians were killed by the army, he unwittingly and
simultaneously shined the spotlight on Mugabe with regards to the
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, political analyst
Shakespeare Hamauswa said despite all the recent controversies that had
dogged Mnangagwa, including the News Statesman interview, the VP was “a
survivor” who had managed to weather the storm in many previous such
“Mnangagwa has survived many times, not necessarily because he is a
strategist par excellence, but because he enjoys the support of the
“The donors, who are increasingly becoming dissatisfied with the
opposition are also preparing for a `second best option’, which is a
reformed Zanu PF, and they also think that Ngwena (Mnangagwa) can lead
that reformation,” he said.
“So, the New Statesman interview is for me okay in that the succession
battle is being fought through the media and the best way for the
protagonists is to fight back through the same media.
“There might be weaknesses in the way he handled the coffee mug storm but
that will not guarantee his downfall in the absence of a strong counter
strategy, one that is based on tactics and not just the mudslinging of
aspiring candidates,” Hamauswa added.
“I think the bigger picture is how Ngwena has conducted government
business so far. Yes he can deny involvement in Gukurahundi, but he can
not explain such things as his foolish statement when he said US dollars
are not meant for buying mazhanje.
“He also can’t deny that he is the first high-level official to start
abrogating the Constitution. What it also means is that he could now spend
99 percent of his time defending himself, without showing his capability
of taking over,” Hamauswa concluded.
Another analyst, Maxwell Saungweme said “Cupgate” – the controversy
related to the VP’s “I am the boss” coffee mug – as well as Mnangagwa’s
interview with the New Statesman “betrayed him as an unsophisticated
politician who is overrated”.
“His recent moves seem to betray, somewhat, a lack of grasp of how the
Zanu PF patronage and factional system works. He seems to have exposed
himself, his surrogates and political running dogs.
“If one looks at his liberation history and his tenure in government in
senior roles, the guy has never portrayed political shrewdness. He is
mostly famed for being consistent in carrying out missions in the
liberation struggle or for being brutal in government.
“He is not known for being an orator, a diplomatic politician or a shrewd
tactician. His latest actions betray the real person in him, an
unsophisticated politician. To me, this is the real Ngwena for you and his
actions are definitely suicidal given the factionalism and patronage
system in Zanu PF,” Saungweme said.
Within Zanu PF itself, Mnangagwa’s G40 enemies have gone to town to use
the events of the past few days to portray him as “completely unfit” to
ascend to the highest office in the land.
“We told you a long time ago that Lacoste is not just unelectable, he
would be a disaster if he succeeded Gushungo (Mugabe),” a G40-linked
senior ruling party official told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday.