via Biti: Zanu PF against Karanga Mnangagwa – New Zimbabwe 09/10/2015
THE campaign against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Zanu PF is tribal with powerful forces in the ruling party determined to stop a Karanga becoming the next president, Tendai Biti has claimed.
Biti warned that the succession dispute had become so toxic that Zimbabwe risked chaos of the kind that engulfed Rwanda in 1994 when an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were killed.
The former finance minister and opposition People’s Democratic Party leader was speaking at a SAPES panel discussion on Zimbabwe post-Mugabe in Harare.
Following the brutal ouster of former vice president Joice Mujuru, Mnangagwa was thought to be in pole position to succeed the 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
But senior party officials have declared that he is not the chosen successor.
Politburo members such as Jonathan Moyo and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao dismissively snipe at the VP with relish, telling him that he is just personal assistant to the president.
“The emergence of Mnangagwa is meeting a response which can only be described as tribal,” said Biti.
“I have heard many people say, this country can’t be run by a Karanga. Ethnicity, whether we like it or not, is back on the centre stage of Zimbabwean politics.”
Mugabe has not pronounced himself on a preferred successor and encourages party supporters urging him to seek another five-year term in 2018 when he will be 94 years old.
In 2004, when he engineered Mujuru’s rise to the vice presidency, Mugabe told the party faithful: “You surely do not want her to end there.”
And taking that statement as endorsement, Mujuru moved to consolidate her position and was widely considered the next president-in-waiting until, ten years later, Mugabe hounded out for allegedly plotting a coup.
Although Mugabe claimed Mujuru’s ouster ended divisions over his succession in Zanu PF, new and bitter rivalries have emerged mainly pitting a pro-Mnangagwa group and younger aspirants calling themselves G40.
Coup threat and anarchy
Biti warned that the succession dispute in the ruling party had become so toxic it could turn Zimbabwe into another Rwanda.
“Zimbabwe right now represents the situation in Rwanda in 1994,” he said.
“(We have) the language of de-legitimation were the orders of the day; ‘you’re Gamatox, you’re a sell-out, you’re this, you’re that’.
“It’s a dominant discourse and you add that to a centre that is not holding; you add that to an economy that is not delivering; an economy dominated 60% by youths that are unemployed …
“So we are very close to a Rwanda situation than many people might understand.”
The former treasury chief said failure by Zanu PF to resolve Mugabe’s succession could lead to a coup and anarchy.
“If they (military) decide to play an active role the possibility of a coup is in Zimbabwe is actually there.” said Biti.
“In other words, the chaos scenario represents the various possible outcomes (that) are unconstitutional, which will resolve the issue of power and succession in Zimbabwe.”
However, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director, Philani Zamchiya, was not convinced about the risk of a military coup.
“I don’t see the situation as it is now as kind of ripe for an overt coup, but there has always been a covert military coup in this country,” said Zamchiya, addressing the same panel discussion.
“If the soldiers want to come in, they will put on civilian clothes first, people like General (Constantine) Chiwenga, and then come through the Zanu PF party.”
Still, Biti said peace and stability could only be guaranteed through what he described as a national transitional authority bringing together political parties, civil society, churches and labour.
“In our view the (transitional authority) creates a win-win situation for ordinary Zimbabweans were stability and peace are married to the imperators of social reconstruction, economic recovery and development,” he said.
“Even if the worst case scenario, that is to say the worst case scenario, does not manifest itself, a post-Mugabe government that continues to fudge on making Zimbabwe sink deeper into economic turmoil characterised by unemployment, hopelessness and fatalism is not an option.