via Whither Mai Mujuru? The Zimbabwean 15 October 2014 by Vince Musewe
Politics is a dirty game. One minute you could be at the top, and the next minute you are thrown into the gutter simply because of raw human ambition for power and status. I am quite curious as to what thoughts could be going through Dr. Mujuru’s mind these days. What are her options?
One scenario could be that she prevails and becomes the next President of Zimbabwe, but the odds are stacked against her at this stage. If she becomes President, it would be difficult for her to work with Grace and those who have come out in the open against her.
She would have a hostile and uncooperative Women’s League to deal with. That would be untenable and bad for a country that needs a new president to focus on economic recovery and not internal power struggles.
It would also be difficult for her to work with the Mnangagwa camp, who no doubt would never accept her authority. Her rise to the highest office in the land would certainly lead to divisions within Zanu (PF) and potentially create two centres of power. Without the security establishment firmly behind her, she will not last at all.
Let’s assume that Grace achieves her ambition, becomes VP and Mujuru is the casualty. She could retire from politics and run her family business empire as her late husband did. I am sure over the years she has developed good business networks that she can use or call favours from.
However, things could be made difficult for her by Zanu (PF). She could be frozen out of business. This is the consequence of being on the wrong side of the patronage system – it’s good when you are on the inside and unprofitable when you are on the outside. It could be case of chickens coming home to roost given how she has in the past denied others business opportunities. An example here is how she fought hard against the awarding of Econet cellular phone licence to Strive Masiyiwa; a taste of her own medicine perhaps?
Another option could be for her to get back into politics. She could walk out of Zanu (PF) in disgust and establish her own political party – given that she has followers both in and outside the party.
We could see a scenario similar to South Africa’s Congress of the People (COPE), which walked out of the ANC in disgust. Unfortunately it didn’t last due to bickering amongst its leaders. However Joice would have the money and the numbers to achieve some sort of respectable impact. This would reduce the ZANU (PF) vote in her strong constituencies, particularly Mashonaland West and East.
She could also join an existing opposition party or establish a coalition with opposition forces, but which one? Would Tsvangirai embrace her and gather the additional numbers to fight Zanu (PF)? She would bring significant institutional memory and intelligence to the table including the ruling party’s tactics and secrets with regard to 2013 and the coming 2018 elections. This could be interesting.
This could also negatively impact Tsvangirai, as it could be taken as confirmation that he has been collaborating with Zanu (PF) all along. But it would surely be a blow to Zanu (PF). Mujuru would no doubt be branded traitor – and we know what they do with traitors.
She could join Biti and Mangoma, or establish a coalition with them, but I doubt that could happen given that the Renewal Team is really about leadership renewal. I know they will not have anything to do with Zanu (PF). But if Mujuru can strengthen them against Tsvangirai, they might consider that as an option. There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, so I would not completely rule this out.
She could also join up with Simba Makoni at Mavambo. That could be interesting as the two Zanu (PF) alumni could cause some damage. Other party members could then openly follow – as was expected when Simba launched Mavambo. This would strengthen that party and deliver Mujuru’s constituency into their lap, but who would be the boss? Therein lies the problem.
Zanu (PF) is inadvertently shooting itself in the foot by marginalising Mujuru. Her demise would clearly see a seismic shift. I don’t think that staying in the party would be a wise option – but if she leaves that could be a dangerous game to play.
It’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The next couple of months will be interesting. – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org