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Zanu-PF Factionalism Invokes Memories of Former Leaders Chitepo, Sithole

FILE: Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa campaigning for Harare East Zanu PF candidate, Terrence Mukupe.
FILE: Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa campaigning for Harare East Zanu PF candidate, Terrence Mukupe.

Alleged factionalism continues to ravage Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party as members continue to position themselves to succeed 91-year-old Zimbabwe leader, Robert Mugabe.

Members aligned to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have dismissed as wishful thinking, moves by a group of young turks calling itself the Generation 40 or G40, to sideline him in the succession battle. The G40 are said to be pushing for the First Lady, Mrs. Grace Mugabe, to replace her husband as the country’s next president.

Concerns over aging Mugabe’s seeming inability to control the warring factions, in the face of the brickbats being thrown all over the place, some observers fear the country is about to witness a repeat of how guerrillas stopped factionalism in the 1970s, after the assassination of party leader Herbert Chitepo, by imprisoning top officials in Zambia and Rhodesia.

Supporters of Mnangagwa believe that he is still President Mugabe’s favorite to succeed him, despite denials from Mr. Mugabe himself who has declared that his successor will be voted in as opposed to being appointed, and Mnangangwa’s own rejection of this view, telling the BBC in a recent interview that he is not the certain successor.


One of Mnangagwa’s strong allies is Mashonaland East provincial executive member, Energy Mutodi.

“There is speculation that this group calling itself G40 would want to stand in the way of Comrade Mnangagwa, but now, you come to realize that this G40 individuals, they are not presidential material in anyway,” he said.

The controversial Mutodi says the group is literally dancing out of tune in the party. He dismissed the likelihood of some of the alleged members of the G40 group such as Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo or Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, as having what it takes to not only lead factions but succeed President Mugabe.

“Jonathan Moyo the professor, our learned professor, he cannot lead any faction inside, he can only be a member of a faction. You go to [Local Government Minister] Saviour Kasukuwere, he’s just a PC (Political Commissar) of the party who has been appointed by the president to preside over structures of the party, so looking at themselves, they’ve got no basis to want to succeed the president,” Mutodi concluded.

He added that “they have got no basis to want to succeed the president, they are no bodies, they’ve got no liberation war history, you see. They are just overzealous, they want to be everywhere all the time.”


Mutodi said in comparison to the young turks without credentials, Mnangagwa, who has held several cabinet posts since independence from British rule in 1980, has all the makings of a leader.

“If you look at Mnangagwa he has been with the president for the past 52-years. He has seen everything, he has seen all the challenges in the party, in each formative stages, in the war, in the post-independence era, he has seen everything, and he has all the experience.” More importantly said Mutodi, Mnangangwa, “has been loyal to the president.”

Despite his support for the vice president, Mutodi believes that the party’s constitution needs to be followed when President Mugabe leaves office.

Observers say there is a likelihood that securocrats may end up intervening to stop the squabbles, a situation which may be similar to what Zanu’s armed wing, the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (ZANLA), did when it crafted the famous Mgagao Declaration.

Report on Mugabe Succession Filed By Gibbs Dube
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When Chitepo was assassinated in Zambia, some top Zanu leaders and ZANLA commanders were locked up, resulting in serious conflicts which escalated until the freedom fighters came up with the Mgagao Declaration in Tanzania, in which they sidelined Ndabaningi Sithole, then the leader of Zanu, who had formed his own military high command known as the Zimbabwe Liberation Council.

The 1975 Mgagao Declaration unequivocally rejected Sithole as the leader of ZANU and ZANLA.


According to political analyst, Professor Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu of the University of South Africa, the same may happen if factionalism continues as members of the armed forces, also said to be aligned to factions, decide to intervene.

“From a liberation war tradition, what happened is that it will not be civilians only who will jostle for the position, they will actually divide the military as well. And when that happens, then it means we are actually going to face a situation of an intra-state institutional violence in which even the army might be broken into fragments according to generations and also according to loyalties to the factions,” he said.

Such a situation, says Professor Ndlovu, will plunge Zimbabwe into a crisis.

“Obviously we are heading for disaster,” Ndlovu said, “because with the people who have the monopoly of violence actually participating in this, it will take us back to the Mgagao period, in which when Chitepo died, and when Ndabaningi Sithole was removed from office, again we had a similar crisis. And who decided to put the current president in – it was actually the military people through the Mgagao Declaration. So we might actually be looking to another Mgagao Declaration where the military will actually intervene and say we are bringing order by putting this one in power.”

As for who the military may put in charge to bring order, Ndlovu said that is a matter of debate.

“I am not sure at the moment, but they can decide to put the wife of the president, Dr. Grace Mugabe, they can decide to back Mnangagwa, they can decide to back the candidate of the G40, who I am not very sure who is that,” said Ndlovu.

Some members of the G40, who allegedly include Kasukuwere, Professor Jonathan Moyo, business tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa, Patrick Zhuwawo and several others were not reachable for comment as they were said to be attending various meetings.