Former Zimbabwe vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa recently portrayed himself as the future of both Zimbabwe and the beleaguered ruling Zanu PF. Responding to his recent firing by Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa shared what he claims to be “part of my vision for a rejuvenated Zimbabwe and particularly Zanu-PF”.
In his statement, Mnangagwa encouraged “all loyal members of the party to remain in the party to register to vote as we will very soon control the levers of power in our beautiful Party and country.” The statement quotes Mnangagwa as saying:
I will be communicating with you soon and shall return to Zimbabwe to lead you.
Traditionally, the ruling party’s deputy leader gets the first shot at the state presidency. Zanu PF’s powerful Politburo has just fired Mnangagwa from the party. The party’s information secretary, Simon Khaya Moyo, announced the decision on ZBC, the national broadcaster.
“Zanu PF has expelled former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the party as per request by the country’s 10 provinces, the Youth League and the Women’s League,” ZBC reported. The broadcaster added that “the Politburo also resolved that all members identified as colluding with Cde Mnangagwa in his secessionist agenda to be put before the party’s disciplinary committee where appropriate action would be taken in accordance with the party’s constitution.”
So, what’s Mnangagwa banking on exactly? The military? Over the years, Mugabe has militarized the Zimbabwean state to the extent that its safe to say that the military calls the shots. For example, in 2001, Mugabe appointed George Chiweshe, a retired brigadier general, as High Court judge. While serving in the Zimbabwe National Army, Chiweshe deputized Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the body overseeing criminal proceedings on the state’s behalf, is heavily militarized. Earlier this year, the Zimbabwe Independent reported:
Military officials constitute 75% of the staff complement at the NPA. Despite the comments by the ministry’s permanent secretary Virginia Mabiza that they will demilitarise the NPA eventually, it fails to explain why the authority has been stuffed by soldiers to such an extent in the first place.
In a recent mini cabinet reshuffle, Mugabe promoted Major-General (Retired) Happyton Bonyongwe, a former head of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), Zimbabwe’s “secret police”, as justice minister.
The military has played a leading role in suppressing democracy and propping up Mugabe in the past 36 years. For example, the Joint Operations Command (JOC), a powerful organ comprising the chiefs of the army, air force, intelligence services, police, and prisons service, chaired by Gen. Chiwenga, sabotaged the 2008 presidential election. Mugabe lost the first round to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The JOC intervened and threatened to unleash violence during the re-run. Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round, allowing Mugabe to be re-elected. Mugabe eventually beat Tsvangirai during the 2013 presidential election.
Considering the fact that Gen. Chiwenga is fiercely loyal to Mnangagwa, it’s not far fetched to assume that the Zimbabwean military could decide to retire the old man and install the former VP as president.
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He’s the founder and editor of these blogs: The Canadian Progressive, Zimbabwean Progressive, and Charity Files. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad
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