via Zanu PF factions in quandary over Gono – DailyNews Live by Mugove Tafirenyika and Tendai Kamhungira 13 APRIL 2014
Zanu PF factions positioning themselves to succeed President Robert Mugabe are panicking following recent suggestions that Mugabe could be grooming former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to take over the reins when he finally retires.
The fears have reached fever-pitch after Mugabe toured Gono’s farm in Norton two weeks ago where he heaped praise on the latter’s success as a businessman, farmer and a turnaround strategist.
Mugabe’s recent statement that neither Mujuru nor Mnangagwa has an automatic ticket to take over leadership of both the party and the country saying it is the people who will have a final say has also escalated the panic.
Some have raised speculations suggesting a possible Cabinet reshuffle to push for Gono’s ascendency to be the country’s new Finance minister first before being groomed for presidency.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been a monumental failure and with the economy heading for catastrophic levels, there is a belief that Mugabe will soon make changes to his Cabinet.
Another highly-placed source said: “Gono is the most closest and trusted lieutenant in the Mugabe family and the President can only feel safe with the former RBZ governor in charge. One of Gono’s major attributes is his courage to tell the President the truth not what he wants to hear like most of the advisors do.
“Remember during the days of the price control madness, Gono told the President the truth that if price controls were pursued, they would result in economic disasters and warned that it was not feasible to embark on a policy which had no exit strategy.
“On the issue of indigenisation, Gono made it clear to Mugabe that the policy needed to be transparent and that the programme was not supposed to benefit individuals but the whole nation. In short, he is one guy who is able to tell the President the truth while others tell him what he wants to hear.
“Thirdly and most importantly, Gono does not belong to any one of the factions and being close to the First Family, he would be a natural choice for Mugabe. The fact that the President spends hours with the ex-governor, is testimony that he might be considering him for the top post.
“The only problem is that Gono never reveals what they discuss in private with President Mugabe but whatever it is, there is something big being planned,” said the highly-placed government source.
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have publicly denied leading any factions within Zanu PF, claiming the “factions” were nothing more than a creation of the media.
“The remarks by the president about Gono have certainly caused panic and consternation in the main factions. Nobody is sure what the old man is up to but what the comments have certainly done is to raise anxiety among factional leaders,” a top Zanu PF official told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday.
Piers Pigou, the director of South Africa-based advocacy group International Crisis Group told the Daily News on Sunday that Mugabe had a proclivity to play one faction against the other to his advantage.
Pigou said by allowing the situation in the party to seemingly go out of hand, he retains his relevance and leverage.
“In terms of current dynamics, it is possible one faction is strengthened considerably to the detriment of the other. Such domination could lead to accommodation or suzerainty over others, and or their demolition,” said Pigou.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said those in Zanu PF have reason to panic when they consider that Mugabe has abandoned party hierarchy in the past and used his discretion to elevate Mujuru to vice president.
“I am not sure if Gono is in the party structures like the central committee because it’s rare for someone who is an outsider to be parachuted to the top unless a special dispensation is crafted for him,” Masunungure said.
“There are instances where Mugabe has exercised his discretion for instance when he appointed Mujuru to the post of vice president in 2004”.
Another respected political analyst and academic Ibbo Mandaza concurred that the so-called factionalism in Zanu PF is a creation of the media which has no substance.
Mandaza suggested that when Mugabe made reference to some in his party who could be afraid that Gono is out to take their jobs, he was referring to the insinuations in the media.
“Factionalism in all political organisations is a common phenomenon but it is clear that the media created the one in Zanu PF.
There is no substance to the issue of factional fights in the ruling party and I say this advisedly,” said Mandaza.
During last year’s July election, Mugabe told reporters while intending to cast his vote in Harare’s Highfield suburb that he was not going to resign in the event that he was to win the election.
“Don’t you want me to serve my whole term, what am I elected for? Why should I offer myself as a candidate if it is to cheat the people into resigning after?” Mugabe said, confirming that he will remain in office for the full five year period.
However, his health and advanced age have come under public scrutiny, with critics calling for his retirement. This has also widened cracks in Zanu PF but the 90-year-old leader has remained mum on who could possibly take over the reins of the party in case of any eventuality.
He has previously said that there was no vacancy for the presidential post, with him still in place.