Stability will only return to Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF if the party manages to solve the acrimonious succession question that has seen purges, which started early this year with the expulsion of former vice president Joice Mujuru, continuing.
Political analysts say Zanu PF, currently in conference in the resort town of Victoria Falls, needs to address the succession question as a matter of urgency if unity is to be achieved ahead of the crucial 2018 national polls.
President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, turns 92 in February.
Analysts Takavifira Zhou and Chamu Madiridze, though differing on the situation in Zanu PF to some extent in a VOA panel discussion, agree that the conference will be an eye-opener, exposing the ruling party’s weaknesses and divisions as has never been seen before.
“Divisions are going to be more-clearer than before at this conference,” said Madiridze. “If they are not careful this conference may mark the downfall of Zanu PF and key members of that organization.”
Zhou disagrees to some extent.
“One thing I agree with him is that this conference will reveal the major weaknesses of Zanu but I don’t agree that these weaknesses may lead to the demise of Zanu because Zanu uses the army to plan,” he said.
“After noting the weaknesses, it may then give Mugabe an opportunity to consult the army to come up with a grand plan to force people into unity under his term using the army.”
Divisions, the two agreed, will continue to rock the party with purges increasing as factions jostle to succeed an ageing Mr. Mugabe.
“Zanu PF has an old President and because of the age of the President, there’s serious struggle for power to replace the President who may either die or resign anytime,” said Zhou.
“The serious jostling for power has led to an intense power struggle or dog-eat-dog situation in which a lot of people think there’s a possible chance to succeed Mugabe.”
Zimbabweans have never seen Zanu PF in the way they are seeing it now.
Factions have become bold, especially the Generation or G40 group supporting First Lady Grace Mugabe, who some think may replace deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa at the on-going conference as the women’s league is demanding the return of a quota system that ensures one of the party’s deputy leaders is a woman.
Madiridze says the situation in Zanu PF is normal. He says the on-going conference may mark the beginning of the end for Zanu PF if the succession question is not handled properly.
“Once the succession question is answered, there won’t be any problems in Zanu PF,” he said. “It will be a stable party.”