via Mugabe descends to the dance-floor | newzimbabweconstitution. 31 October 2014 by Alex Magaisa
It was only a matter of time. Sooner or later, he would have had to make the decision – whether to remain on the balcony or to join his wife on the dance-floor. It is now clear, from events of the last few days, that President Mugabe is now firmly on the dance-floor.
Some, like a colleague who wrote to me this week, argue that he was already on the dance-floor; that he had long left the balcony and was now jostling with the crowds. That dimension is not far-fetched. But if that was the case, he was much less visible, lurking, as he was, behind proxies, the main one being his wife, Grace Mugabe who unleashed a torrent of abuse on Vice President Joice Mujuru.
When Grace Mugabe twice impetuously refused to shake the hand of his VP at the airport, Mugabe said nothing. When Grace Mugabe publicly called out for his VP to resign, he said nothing in his subordinate’s defence. When Grace Mugabe described his VP as lazy, incompetent, dull, corrupt and demonic, Mugabe did not defend her. When Grace Mugabe indecorously declared that she had told her husband to “baby-dump” Mujuru and threatened that if he did not, she and her supporters would do the “baby-dumping” so that she would be dinner for wild dogs, Mugabe did not challenge this prescription.
In short, Mugabe had left his Vice President to the wild dogs. He had “baby-dumped” her already, following his wife’s instructions. Grace Mugabe could not have been so daring if she did not have the support of her powerful husband. She was doing the dirty work that he himself did not want to do. But we waited for the day that he would pronounce himself.
In the last few days he has spoken the language that The Herald and other State media has employed for a number of weeks – speeches against so-called sell-outs, against people working with the West, against politicians bribing youth and provincial leaders and all this is directed at Mujuru and her faction. He has spoken out against those wishing for the end of his rule, the ‘child’, he said, who wants to remove him from power, the ‘child’ and friends who say he is ‘too old’. Grace Mugabe had already told us that this was one of the charges against Mujuru.
Mugabe yesterday poured vitriol on Jabulani Sibanda, chair of the war veterans and a man who campaigned for him vigorously in last year’s election. Sibanda has openly refused to join a group of war veterans that is denigrating Mujuru, arguing that he would not lead a “boardroom and bedroom coup”. He had already been singled out by the other faction and by tormented by the State media in recent days. Now, even the ‘war veteran’ credentials of this man, who on behalf of Mugabe, allegedly harassed and intimidated villagers across the country in the run-up to last year’s elections, are now being questioned. He was useful when he was singing the right tune. Now he is dispensable.
Then, like his wife, Mugabe poured scorn on Ray Kaukonde, Mashonaland East Chairman, describing him as having become big-headed and overstepping his authority, a similar charge to that preferred against the now suspended Mashonaland West Chairman, Temba Mliswa. Grace Mugabe infamously threatened Kaukonde, saying in crude language often heard in the streets, “Kaukonde ndakakamaka big time!” (I have a serious grudge with Kaukonde). Mugabe has followed the same script, describing him in derisive language as “a little man called Kaukonde”. It is clear that Mugabe is backing his wife and all those in her path are in serious jeopardy.
The strategy is very simple – decimate all of Mujuru’s pillars of power and leave her isolated by the time the National Congress comes in December. The aim is to either eliminate them or force them to jump ship – both courses would leave Mujuru in miserable isolation. Mujuru had cleared her path by controlling the provincial and youth structures. Now they are being taken apart, with the removal of troublesome chairs – first, Mliswa and Kaukonde’s number is up, too. More will follow, unless they jump ship.
As the temperatures rise and now that Mugabe has shown his hand, the likelihood is that some of Mujuru’s backers will desert her. Politics is a notoriously selfish business and politicians are a thoroughly selfish stock. They will do anything to save their bacon. With Mujuru facing serious political harangue of the type never seen before within Zanu PF, some of her backers will certainly skip and join the side that appears to be winning. Many who were sitting on the fence will also begin to come out now and declare their ‘abiding support’ for Mugabe and effectively, the other side.
When history is written, this is the moment when Mugabe finally showed his hand. It is the moment when he became a visible actor on the dance-floor. But some say, with both Mujuru and Mnangagwa having been named by the Politburo as faction leaders, this might provide an opening for the often-rumoured third party to emerge as the front-runner in the race for succession. In the end, Mugabe has both factions exactly where he wants them to be – accused of factionalism and fanning divisions and therefore, in his opinion, unfit to lead a united party. He will argue that choosing one will divide the party. Therefore, while the Mnangagwa faction may have led the brutal political offensive against Mujuru and are seemingly winning that battle, they themselves may find that the path to the highest throne has its own impediments, because ultimately, Mugabe has his own choice. This gives credence to the theory that he probably has someone in mind already and that someone is not necessarily a person favoured by either faction – the proverbial “Dark Horse”.
When all is said and done, Mugabe is now on the dance-floor. He is doing the pinching and trying to protect his wife from being pinched. But will anyone pinch back? Time, that great sorcerer, will tell.