The underlying message from the information volunteered to the American diplomats by senior officials is that Zanu PF is a party at the crossroads because of President Robert Mugabe’s reluctance to voluntarily hand over the baton.
Almost everyone, including his wife Grace, wants Mugabe to retire but none of the Zanu PF leaders had the courage to challenge him, the cables have revealed. Analysts believe the disclosures will reshape the way Zanu PF does its business going forward.
Two factions led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa respectively, have always been known to exist. However, there has been talk of a military element fronted by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga.
The cables so far have portrayed the Mujuru faction as very close to the Americans and more desperate to see Mugabe’s back. Mujuru’s late husband, Solomon, a retired army general is one of the most quoted Zanu PF politicians in the cables.
The Vice-President herself is reported to have met an American ambassador and volunteered information about Zanu PF. So far Mnangagwa has been left unscathed, save for a speculative cable that claimed he once manhandled Mugabe during a heated argument and another that suggested he had engaged in secret talks with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Observers speculate that Mna-ngagwa will emerge stronger from the WikiLeaks debacle. “Claims that Mnangagwa manhandled Mugabe will portray him as a fearless party strongman encouraging more support for his cause,” said Bekithemba Mpofu, a political analyst.
“The fact that nothing significantly negative was revealed will strengthen his position. “On the other hand, the death of the VP’s husband and WikiLeaks revelations have dealt a real blow to the Mujuru faction.”
But Trevor Maisiri of the Africa Reform Institute believes the cables have not handed any faction any advantage. “I think inasmuch as the WikiLeaks cables are damaging to Mujuru, I don’t think the benefit is directly transferable to Mnangagwa either,” he said.
“What the WikiLeaks have done is cause a major stirring of the waters within the Zanu PF leadership. “They have increased the levels of suspicion and there will be uneasiness over the personal motives of each person within the hierarchy of the party.”
Maisiri said even those who have not been touched by the cables will still be held in suspicion in Zanu PF. “The effects on Zanu PF are not merely just individual damage but it is collective,” he said.
“The question many will ask is: besides the ones who have been exposed, who else has escaped exposure but is otherwise contemptuous. “So Mujuru may have been tainted in the succession battle but it does not mean anyone gained leverage.
“In fact, everyone is suspiciously considered since the WikiLeaks have only exposed possibilities but not the entirety.” A number of analysts believed Mujuru lived in her husband’s shadow and will not be able to handle Zanu PF’s sometimes unorthodox battles for power.
However, Zanu PF politics is known to be very fluid and Mujuru can still turn the tables.