via ‘Military wields influence on Mugabe succession matrix’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 23, 2014
ZIMBABWE’S military has too much influence on the Zanu PF succession matrix that whoever will succeed President Robert Mugabe will inherit a party beholden to the armed forces, a new research has said.
The research — titled A New Twilight in Zimbabwe? The Military vs Democracy — says securocrats were too strong at a time when forces of resistance such as civic society groups and opposition parties were at their weakest moments and in disarray.
The research was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Democracy and authored by Charles Mangongera, a human rights and governance researcher and 2013-14 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the United States National Endowment for Democracy.
According to Mangongera, political dynamics within Zanu PF were going to shape the direction that Zimbabwe was going to take.
He said Mugabe’s departure would alter Zimbabwean politics, but not necessarily bring a political breakthrough.
Mangongera predicted rising citizen dissatisfaction and restlessness due to the ailing economy.
But he said any form of resistance by citizens would be quashed due to Zanu PF’s links with the military.
“To a large degree, political dynamics within Zanu PF will shape the direction that Zimbabwe will take as the President is 90 years old, and there are signs that his health is failing,” wrote Mangongera.
“His departure will permanently alter Zimbabwean politics, but it will not necessarily provide an opportunity for a democratic breakthrough as this will depend on who succeeds him.”
Mangongera said currently there were two Zanu PF factions locked in a battle for control of the party.
“Ominously, both have their roots firmly in the military,” he said.
Mangongera said the military elites were “undoubtedly going to demand a bigger slice of the national resource pie”.
He said the two factions said to be fighting for control of Zanu PF and the country post-Mugabe both had leaders with a military background which was likely to further enhance their control of the country.
Zanu PF is said to be divided into two factions headed by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and another one by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Both are considered the leading contenders in the race to succeed Mugabe in power since Independence in 1980.
Mangongera said of Mnangagwa’s military history: “Mnangagwa has served as Justice, Defence and Intelligence minister, among other positions.
“He has a history of resource plunder, according to a United Nations report on the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
On Mujuru, Mangongera wrote: “Mujuru is a decorated veteran of the liberation struggle who owes her political ascendancy to her late husband Retired General Solomon Mujuru, the first black post-independence commander of the defence forces.”
However, Mangongera said a second scenario might emerge where the opposition forces currently in their weakest form could bounce back.
“The opposition can bounce back and take advantage of the economic collapse to defeat Mugabe. This would require a serious realignment of forces under a visionary leadership that could
reunite democratic forces and build a strong grassroots movement,” he said.
“At the moment, however, the opposition is in disarray and is at risk of a major implosion. Civil society is weak, divided, and poorly resourced.
If the democratic forces are able to regroup and build solid momentum for reform before the 2018 elections, there is a realistic chance that they could defeat Mugabe or his successor.”
Mangongera said the victor would still have to grapple with the arduous task of untangling the military’s tentacles from Zimbabwean society.
He said signs were already there of lack of satisfaction with the economic performance, but Mangongera said Mugabe was likely to respond to any form of resistance with a heavy hand with closure of any democratic space.
“Mugabe has largely ignored the new Constitution, implementing only provisions that do not reduce his power,” he said.
“He has packed the newly created institutions mandated by the Constitution to provide checks and balances with his yes-men and has completely abandoned the reform agenda. Those who delivered victory to Mugabe are now reaping rewards for their efforts.”
The Zimbabwean military is known for dabbling in politics. In the 2008 elections the military played a pivotal role in the re-election of Mugabe in polls marked by widespread violence and intimidation.