With former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) continuing to attract dozens of disgruntled senior Zanu PF officials to its ranks. Zanu PF bigwigs press panic button by stepping up its efforts to stem the tide by extending an olive branch to its disaffected members, including those currently under suspension.
Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said President Robert Mugabe’s announcement at the weekend that the central committee would this week move to deal with all outstanding disciplinary issues was an indication of the anxiety gripping the party in the face of the growing desertions.
Speaking at Harare International Airport on Saturday on his arrival from Japan, Mugabe revealed that the party would convene a central committee meeting this week, where all pending disciplinary appeals would be deliberated.
The central committee is, at least on paper, Zanu PF’s highest decision-making body between the party’s congresses.
Most of the party’s members who are on suspension or facing dismissal are under the cosh on suspicion that they support Mujuru and ZPF.
“There is a real fear in the party that many more of those officials who are on suspension could cross the floor and join ZPF, hence this decision to finally hear all outstanding cases,” a Zanu PF bigwig said.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said yesterday that the party was teetering on the brink of total collapse due to its worsening factional and succession wars, and was thus keen to do anything to mitigate the often mindless bloodletting.
“The possibility of pardons is high given that the party is so divided and on the verge of collapse. On the other hand, common sense does not reign in Zanu PF most of the time.
“The party has been pressing the self-destruct button for a very long time and it could continue on that destructive trajectory by maintaining the suspensions and risk encouraging more people to cross the floor,” Saungweme said.
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo referred the Daily News to the party’s secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, who was not reachable yesterday.
In a recent report by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), titled Zimbabwe Political Economy Review: Elite Discohesion and Authoritarian Erosion — Zanu PF on the Precipice, the prominent think tank said the centre of power within Zanu PF was definitely no longer holding.
It said further that due to the party’s escalating ructions, more of its members were going to desert it as the country hits election mode in preparation for the 2018 plebiscite.
“The occurrences of internal fragmentation, elite discohesion and defections in Zanu PF may consistently increase over the next two years as Zimbabwe treads towards the 2018 elections.
“The more internal party fragmentation, the higher the costs of repression and the higher the chances of defection (exit) and the more probable the possibility of defeat of the hegemonic political party,” ZDI said.
Political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said what was happening in Zanu PF was virtually predictable because of the devastating divisions.
However, he said, the fear that its members could join other political parties was not that big considering the fact that Zanu PF had access to State resources and machinery, which it abused to maintain its hold on power.
“The warring factions within Zanu PF know it very well that they will only need the support of critical structures for them to rule. So the focus is just on getting control of the power of the party. After all, 2018 is still far, such that the vanquished factions including Mujuru can rejoin the party,” he added.