The current restructuring exercise and election of District Co-odinating Committees (DCC) has been marred by chaos and violence in several provinces among them Masvingo, Manicaland and Bulawayo as rival factions belonging to either Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa or Vice-President, Joice Mujuru, are jostling to position themselves ahead of the possible battle to succeed Mugabe.
Mugabe himself admitted on Friday at the burial of national hero Edson Ncube that Zanu PF risked being destroyed because of greed, rampant imposition of candidates and rigging which was widening rifts in the party.
University of Zimbabwe Political Science Lecturer, Shakespeare Hamauswa said Zanu PF was in a catch 22 situation which it created for itself. He said if the party went ahead with elections this year, squabbles would prove costly, while postponing the polls would make the party lose credibility.
He said divisions, though not uncommon, were not healthy for a political party which was gearing to go for elections. “Voter apathy is going to increase in the elections. There will be defections to other parties but these will be minimal. Defections will largely depend on what the MDC-T is offering,” said Hamauswa.
However, he said divisions within Zanu PF would not make the political playing field even, unless radical political and electoral reforms were implemented. Hamauswa said the current divisions would not deter Zanu PF from calling for elections this year, as the party wanted to give people an impression that it was determined to fulfill its promises.
“The party will not admit it if they realise that divisions will cost them elections because this will undermine their credibility,” he said. “Instead Zanu PF may shift the blame and say we have failed to hold elections because of opposition by Sadc and MDC-T. They will also blame Finance minister Tendai Biti for failing to mobilise funding for elections.”
Jostling would split votes, says analyst
Political analyst, Tawanda Chimhini said it was significant to note that the squabbles were intense in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces where Zanu PF dismally lost in the last elections.
He said the party had been fighting to regain lost ground in the two provinces and elsewhere, but factionalism and the imposition of candidates would make this an uphill task, come elections.
“There is a high likelihood that we will see an increasing number of disgruntled Zanu PF officials contesting as independent candidates, thereby dividing votes,” Chimhini said.
He said in the amended Electoral bill there was no more room to field parallel candidates from the same party, hence those elbowed out may opt to contest as independents.
“This gives an advantage to the MDC-T; that is provided that the party will not face similar problems,” said Chimhini. Chimhini said the Zanu PF infighting which has been marred by violence, reflected badly on peace and tolerance in the country ahead of elections.
“If violence has already started chances of it increasing are high. This is because if there is lack of tolerance amongst members of the same party, what more between supporters of rival political parties?” he said.
Social rights activist, Hopewell Gumbo said the squabbles were a sign of the depth of the crisis around Mugabe’s possible departure from active politics, sponsored by strong pockets that would be rendered vulnerable.
“Time is running out for many who had sought comfort in his rule,” he said. “Now that the bonding force is disintegrating, the mascots are running for cover. If there is no force that will keep the Zanu PF machinery together, then this is the election in which Zanu PF is going to be drubbed hands down.”
But Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo argued that the current squabbles within the party had no bearing on the elections. He said a special politburo meeting would be held in two weeks’ time to sort out the problems which emerged during the restructuring exercise and election of DCC’s.
“The problems are not insurmountable,” he said. “It’s wishful thinking for some people to say the party is weaker because of the current problems. The reality is that Zanu PF will emerge stronger after the re-organisation has been completed by the department of commissariat lead by Webster Shamu.”
Gumbo said his party was geared for elections which it was confident of winning.
Political analyst, Dr Ibbo Mandaza agreed with Gumbo saying there was nothing unusual about the Zanu PF infighting as this happened each time the country is about to hold elections.
“It has always been acrimonious. In fact, the current infighting is nothing. Wait until primary elections are being held and you will see real war,” he said.