Like the millennial generation in the West, the so-called Young Turks in the ruling Zanu PF are full of energy, savvy and educated.
Faced with a bleak situation as President Mugabe’s age advances, the ambitious group in Zanu PF calling itself Generation 40 or G40, and is allegedly led by the party’s political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, and said to be using First Lady Grace Mugabe in its bid to succeed the 91-year old Mr. Mugabe, is almost calling the shots in the party now.
According to party insiders, the G40 wants to sideline Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who already sees himself as Mr. Mugabe’s heir apparent, though the president has clearly indicated that he is not handing power to anyone on a silver platter.
The G40, it seems, has a long way to go before taking full control of the party.
Most Zanu PF stalwarts acknowledge that the so-called Generation 40 is a force to reckon with as it comprises the Young Turks, who are taking advantage of the current factionalism bedeviling the party to handpick a potential successor to the 91-year old frail President Mugabe in the near future.
IS MNANGAGWA PRESIDENTIAL?
Professor Jonathan Moyo, who has more than 26,000 followers on Twitter, recently posted a message, which read, “So-Called Generation 40 or G40 can’t be a Zanu PF faction, save for open mouths and shut minds. G40 is a demographic reality across parties!”
Observers view this as an open declaration by Professor Moyo that G40 is the in-thing in Zimbabwean political parties, including Zanu PF where they want to sideline Mnangagwa, who the group believes has too much political baggage to win a national election.
They are linking him to the deployment of the Five Brigade, which allegedly killed thousands of PF Zapu supporters in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces in the 1980s.
Senior Zanu PF Central Committee members like David Ndlovu equates G40 to infiltrators or sell outs who used to work for the Rhodesian government while they were in the trenches with freedom fighters in the 1970s.
“During the war we had freedom fighters who were actually members of the (Rhodesian leader Ian Douglas) Smith’s army who went about posing as freedom fighters and making freedom fighters to fight against each other. I would just take that as the same to those who want to create divisions within Zanu PF,” he says.
Ndlovu says there is no evidence that G40, which derives its name from a constitutional provision in Zimbabwe’s supreme law allowing anyone above the age of 40 to be a presidential candidate, is causing havoc in the party.
“They are not organizing the party as G40, they are organizing the party in terms of the constitution. I have never come across them fighting any other person,” he says.
He says it’s healthy to have divergent views in the party though it becomes destructive if some people are using their acquired power to destroy Zanu PF.
‘It is healthy if it is done constructively … You can’t expect people to sing the same chorus like in a choir. People have to differ in the open but have to differ constructively."
Mnangagwa has been on the receiving end of Professor Moyo’s public outbursts on Twitter, in which he attacked him in one of the posts for saying Zimbabweans will miss President Mugabe when he leaves office. Professor Moyo stressed that Mnangagwa’s utterances were part of his political machinations to unseat the president.
Mnangagwa is allegedly being backed by the old guard comprising Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo, former Zapu stalwart Kembo Mohadi and several others. He was not available for comment.
G40 POLITICAL STAMINA
For observers like London-based international relations expert, Clifford Mashiri, G40 has a lot of political stamina to transform Zanu PF.
Mashiri says, “These are very powerful people, influential, powerful in the sense that they can influence (President) Mugabe a lot and they are doing this through Mai (Mrs) Mugabe. They are quite a significant part of Zanu PF and they have quite a lot that they have done so far ofcause they have some feud with Mnangagwa. It’s a bit of a challenge to see whether Mnangagwa can agree with them."
He says the group is gaining a lot of political ground in the ruling party.
“They have managed to influence Mrs. Mugabe in whatever she is saying against her opponents and they back her up. They have been doing so through their pronouncements and in particular (Prof.) Jonathan Moyo through his account on Twitter. He always ensures that he defends and fights for the first family.”
Independent political commentator, Mlamuli Nkomo echoes the same sentiments, adding that their ambitions may be scuttled by the president, who wields a lot of power in Zanu PF.
“If (President) Mugabe is still there, he has a very tight control over Zanu PF so much that it’s so difficult for anyone in Zanu PF to raise their hand and say they want to be a future leader."
But Andrew Weir of the London-based magazine, Africa Confidential, argues that G40 does not have a lot of political stamina to change a lot of issues in the ruling party.
“Their relationship depends on patronage of more powerful people above them. I don’t think they have got strength in their own right to command a lot of support in the party.”
Indications are that Generation 40 is there to stay though its drive to significantly transform the power dynamics in President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party still remains to be seen.
Gushungo, as Mr. Mugabe is affectionately known, is currently calling the shots in the party. And even Mnagwagwa, who some say is poised to take over from Mr. Mugabe, also knows that nothing is ever cast in stone with his boss who is known for outfoxing even some of his toughest opponents, both home and away.