Some Zimbabweans in the country’s Masvingo province say Zanu PF is likely to disintegrate when President Robert Mugabe leaves office through retirement or dies of natural causes.
They argue that the current factionalism in the party is an indication that conflicts over the succession of the 92 year-old president may degenerate into civil war if not properly handled by the ruling party.
Some local people say the nonagenarian leader should be widely blamed for creating the current chaos in the party as he has failed to groom a successor.
They say no one in the party leadership appears determined to settle the political conflicts over Mr. Mugabe’s succession even if the person takes over from the president when he finally leaves office.
The president’s lieutenants – vice presidents Phelekezela Mphoko and Emmerson Mnangagwa – are in two camps within the party fighting over his succession.
Mphoko is allegedly backing a group of Young Turks known as Generation 40, which wants Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed him, while the other faction operating under the name, Team Lacoste, is said to be led by Mnangagwa.
Vice president Mnangagwa is also allegedly being supported by war veterans, whose leader Christopher Mutsvangwa, has already been ejected from the government and ruling party for insulting the first family and undermining the authority of President Mugabe.
Caroline Garwe of Zaka district says she does not believe that there is anyone who can take over the leadership of Zanu PF and keep it intact as there will be chaos and a lot of infighting by presidential aspirants.
“Personally, I don’t think there is someone who can take over from Mugabe considering the infighting going on to replace him even before he is gone. There are a lot of issues and after Mugabe I don’t think the party will succeed, right now Mugabe hasn’t named a successor and this will cause confusion after him.”
Her views are supported by Ernest Tirivanhu, who says the ruling party will not last when President Mugabe leaves office because he is the only binding force. He says Zanu PF supporters fear Mr. Mugabe and no one can keep the supporters together like him.
“I don’t think Zanu PF will last longer after Mugabe leaves, currently they say Mugabe is the only centre of power because people fear and respect him. The leadership that is eyeing to replace Mugabe do not have support and a far more less than opposition parties like MDC led by Tsvangirai and the newly formed Zimbabwe People First. If Mugabe leaves power or he dies that will be the demise of the former revolutionary party.”
Other local people also feel that the country will plunge into a political crisis when Mr. Mugabe leaves as warring factions are likely to engage in physical fights, which could attract the attention of the armed forces.
They say since members of the army appear to be backing different people in the Zanu PF succession wars, this may ultimately degenerate into a civil war if not properly handled by the ruling party.
Local resident, Takavafira Zhou, who is a member of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, says President Mugabe is to blame for the confusion in the ruling party.
Zhou says Mr. Mugabe has over the years failed to groom a successor and as a result, the country should brace for a grueling conflict over his succession.
“In the event that Mugabe dies, Mnangagwa is likely to take over due to his strong links with the security sector … There is Sekeremayi and the G40 there also have chances but due to the infighting there is likely to be a civil war. The danger is that things could degenerate into civil war. There will be warlords as the security forces will join in the succession wars. The best thing is the president to name a successor to avoid war.”
Zhou further says the first lady will not have a relevant role to play after her husband leaves office and is likely to disappear from the political scene.
“The only strength of Zanu and Zapu is the liberation struggle, we don’t expect someone like Grace to succeed, her political life and relevance is based on Mugabe and once he is no longer there she is finished, she will disappear. She does not have leadership qualities so she cannot survive after her husband is no more.”
But local Zanu PF political commissar, Jeepy Jaboon, argues that Zanu PF will never collapse when Mr. Mugabe leaves office. Instead, he says, the party is set to get stronger and continue to rule the southern African nation.
“Our party will rule forever and will remain strong even if our leader decides to leave power. We are bound by the principles of the liberation struggle that will survive forever and we have so many potential leaders who can take over the party and rule the country successfully.”
But most outsiders believe that the ruling party will collapse as soon as Mr. Mugabe leaves office. The president has ruled the country for more than 35 years.