via Blood and thunder politburo meeting – DailyNews Live 24 October 2014 by Thelma Chikwanha and Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – The stage is set for a bruising battle between rival Zanu PF factions which lock horns today in a potentially explosive politburo meeting that could define President Robert Mugabe and his party’s destiny.
In a statement, Zanu PF’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa announced that the politburo meeting that was initially set for Wednesday, had been moved to today.
With Mugabe’s wife leading a vicious and unrestrained attack on Vice President Joice Mujuru, relations in the ruling party are at their lowest ebb and today’s politburo meeting is expected to demand answers not only from the 90-year-old party leader but also from Mujuru and other party functionaries.
So frosty are relations between Mugabe’s wife and his deputy that the first lady on Tuesday petulantly and shockingly refused to shake an outstretched Mujuru’s hand at the Harare International Airport.
Mujuru, who has remained silent as the First Lady verbally pummeled her, will today lead her incensed faction to demand answers from Mugabe who returned from Italy on Monday.
Although Mujuru has not responded to Grace’s attacks on her, she has been openly and embarrassingly snubbed by the First Lady giving traction to views that Mugabe himself tacitly approves the abuse of his deputy.
While the reasons for the high profile fallout remain hazy — there has been manoeuvres from some government officials for Mugabe to sacrifice his deputy, something that his wife suggested as “baby dumping.”
Mujuru is accused of fanning factionalism, demanding 10 percent shares in foreign firms, back-stabbing the President, and having played an active role in the formation of the MDC and MKD but the widowed VP is yet to respond to the serious allegations that came from Mugabe’s wife.
Political analysts and party insiders have warned that the ruling party will split if Mugabe takes sides with his vituperative wife whose entrance into mainstream politics has shaken the ruling party to the core.
Alex Magaisa, a professor of law at Kent University in the United Kingdom, said Zanu PF could not afford to ignore the “elephant in the room”.
“They can’t let it go like that,” Magaisa said. “It has become vicious and embarrassing to everyone and it’s the elephant in the room that they cannot ignore anymore. Grace has shown her utter contempt for a party senior, breaking all forms of protocol expected of a person of her position.
“I think she has made her case weaker by showing herself to be petty, vindictive and child-like in her attitude and approach to the Vice President.”
Respected party elder Cephas Msipa has made it clear that he is going to demand answers from both Mugabe and Mujuru, setting a tantalising battle of the titans.
Msipa has previously warned that unless Mugabe skillfully manages the raging succession wars, the ruling party could split.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, a media and democracy scholar said Mugabe’s word or desire will carry the day.
“There is nobody who will challenge Mugabe,” Ruhanya said. “The outcome of the politburo meeting will be desirable to Mugabe’s political planning ahead of the December congress. I don’t see any person who will challenge the position of the leader. Mugabe is the prince of power. But he will find a way of managing the factions and will not allow any movement towards party rapture. He is clever and he knows how to handle rival factions for his own benefit.”
Insiders say the politburo will also likely discuss the proposed amendments to the party constitution and the Unity Accord, amid a renewed push that vice presidents be appointed and not elected.
“There is no way that the president will let this slide because he knows that once his wife decides to go against Mujuru, it will automatically translate to that all positions in the presidium will now be contested,” the source added on.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme said the developments in Zanu PF showed a president losing his grip on his party.
“He is too old to comprehend everything around him,” Saungweme said. “He can’t control his wife. He cannot resolve anything at this stage.
“The problems are too huge for him.”
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunugure said Grace, who does not hold any official position at the moment, had in fact become a defacto prime minister whose utterances are being treated like policy.
This can be buttressed by the fact that even before she has been appointed into an official position, she has already started enjoying the benefits of leadership.