HARARE – The year 2007 was a precipitous one for Zimbabwe as the economy failed to cope with record breaking inflation. Year 2008 was worse as empty shelves became the new normal for most shops in the country after shops failed to restock products in a season of government initiated price controls and hyper-inflation. With these challenges, the Zimbabwe economy collapsed. Come 2009, former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai formed a government of national unity (GNU), a 5-year power sharing pact mediated by former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki in a bid to take Zimbabwe out of the economic wilderness. For once in two decades, the southern African country was united beyond politics in rebuilding its economy. In 2013, the GNU came to an end, leading to watershed elections that were resoundingly won by Robert Mugabe. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai suspected foul play, but Mugabe would be inaugurated on the 22nd of August, 2013 after amassing 61% of the votes against Morgan Tsvangirai’s 34%.
What followed this political tale were two serious factional fights within Mugabe’s ruling party- Zanu PF. Before the Zanu PF factional fights surfaced, decorated retired army general, Solomon Mujuru, also known as “Kingmaker” within Zanu PF and Zimbabwe’s political landscape owing to his alleged hand in ascending Robert Mugabe and his wife Joice Mujuru to the presidency, was on 16 August 2011 engulfed by an inferno at his Alamein farm in Beatrice under suspicious circumstances.
The death of Solomon Mujuru marked the beginning of a humiliating attack on the then Vice President of Zimbabwe Joice Mujuru by Zanu PF cliques led by misinformed former first lady Grace Mugabe, on allegations of wanting to overthrow the President. Two main political factions emerged, the Gamatox – purportedly aligned to Joice Mujuru, and the Weevils, aligned to the then President Robert Mugabe. Exactly 15 months after the death of her influential husband, Joice Mujuru was forced to tender her resignation on the 10th of November 2014. As this political drama unfolded, Zimbabwe’s economy suffered.
On the 24th of November 2014, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa replaces Joice Mujuru to become Zimbabwe’s Vice President from the Zanu PF wing. Mnangagwa’s appointment would be followed by the appointment of Phelekezela Mphoko as the second Vice President of Zimbabwe from the ZAPU wing on the 10th of December 2019. In 1987, a unity accord was signed by President Robert Mugabe and liberation hero Joshua Nkomo to merge Zanu PF and ZAPU in a bid to bring lasting solutions to Zimbabwe’s post- independence tribal wars – Gukurahundi. Robert Mugabe and his new lieutenants ran smoothly for a year before new Zanu PF fissures emerged.
In late 2015, Grace Mugabe allegedly formed a new Zanu PF faction made up of young Turks in the ruling party – Generation 40 (G40). This, it is alleged, was in response to intelligence that had been gathered on one of the Vice President who had ambitions of taking over the presidency. In early 2016, the Vice President’s faction emerges – Team Lacoste. Emmerson Mnangagwa was the face of Team Lacoste, with the backing of the military. In a sensational presentation Exiled former Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Jonathan Moyo was the brains behind this new outfit. In his video dossier to the Zanu PF Politburo (highest organ) in July 2017, Jonathan Moyo sensationally claimed that then Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the help of certain Zimbabwe National Army commanders, had ‘captured state operations’ such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) , National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), state media and several strategic state institutions in an attempt to capture the Zanu PF commissariat and engineer the overthrow of the 94 year old President Robert Mugabe. Jonathan Moyo dismissed counter-allegations against him of wanting to overthrow the President pointing out that throughout history, nationalist movements were filled with incidences of betrayal by long term allies and not so much were founding fathers of Nationalist movements sold out by new arrivals like him. In his defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa made a presentation in October 2017, accusing Jonathan Moyo of and his G40 cabal planning to topple the President, in the process reassuring his loyalty to then President Robert Mugabe. During this factional battle, former first lady and ZANU PF’ss Women’s League Boss Grace Mugabe would use public platforms to abusively attack Mnangagwa and Team Lacoste.
A month later, on 14 November 2017, a Zimbabwe Military Spokesperson, Major General SB Moyo made an announcement on state television saying the army was targeting criminals around Mugabe, who were committing crimes that were causing social and economic suffering in order to bring them to justice. He went on to say; “Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.” On 17 November, Mugabe would feel pressure from his political party Zanu PF, anti-Mugabe national protests and a motioned impeachment process. The nonagenarian eventually tendered his resignation on the 21st of November 2017, paving way for Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa of Team Lacoste. Jonathan Moyo’s allegations were fulfilled, and Major General SB Moyo’s reasons for the military interventions were justified – “social and economic suffering”.
Moving on to August 2019, exactly a year after Zimbabwe’s disputed harmonised elections, Zimbabwe finds herself back again in the midst of social and economic suffering, this time through electricity shortages, water shortages, medical treatment shortages, fuel shortages and price escalations of basic commodities at a time salaries for many employees have remained depreciated in value by more than 90% in response to the new exchange rate and taxation laws under Mnangagwa’s leadership. The country’s main opposition party has given notice of mass demonstrations across the country from the 16th of August 2019, a date that coincides with the death of General Solomon Mujuru. If the demonstrations succeed, to the superstitious, it would not be a misplacement to say that the spirit of Solomon Mujuru has risen. Again, as alleged by Jonathan Moyo in his 2017 video dossier, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is at the centre of another factional battle in Zanu PF today as the emerging jostle for political power and control against the established. The illness of fearless Vice President Retired General Constatino Chiwenga has also created a leadership vacuum and a protracted succession battle in Zanu PF. If Zanu PF’s history informs its future, then the future and approach of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission will soon be in the hands of a politician as the party conditions a new leader for takeover, at the expense of the economy. If national political history informs the future, the mass demonstrations called upon by opposition political parties on the 16th of August and the prevailing social and economic suffering of Zimbabwe citizens will lead us to another political pact. And lastly, if the ouster of Robert Mugabe by his close comrades informs the future, then the biggest threat to the country’s current leader will come from his close Zanu PF allies.
One day, reason will prevail in Zimbabwe’s leadership for genuine political reforms that will build and grow the economy.