What if the ‘Sata-Scenario’ were to happen in Zimbabwe?

What if the ‘Sata-Scenario’ were to happen in Zimbabwe?

Alex T. Magaisa

The recent death of Zambian President Michael Sata, a circumstance that has catapulted Guy Scott to the Zambian Presidency, has once again drawn speculative questions among Zimbabweans as to what would happen should a similar circumstance happen in Zimbabwe. We have previously dealt with this matter (http://newzimbabweconstitution.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/succession-under-the-constitution-of-zimbabwe/ ) but, in light of the current battles for succession in Zanu PF, and the enquiries we have received, we thought it might be worthwhile to capture it once more in simple terms.

If the Sata-scenario, as we shall call it, were to happen in Zimbabwe, the situation could be very messy, particularly in light of the on-going brutal succession wars in Zanu PF.

Succession is currently regulated by section 14 of the Sixth Schedule to the new Constitution. It provides that if the President dies, the Vice President will act as President until a successor is selected. This is just a temporary role – a place-holder, so to speak. However, a ‘permanent’ successor must be selected within 90 days of the occurrence of the vacancy. This ‘permanent’ successor is a nominee of the political party which the President represented at the election. This means, in our case, that Zanu PF will have the exclusive power to nominate a successor.

But when is this nominee selected? Section 14(5) simply states that the party must notify the Speaker of Parliament of the nominee’s name within 90 days after the vacancy arose. This means the party can actually nominate a successor on the day or within a few days after the death of the President.

In the context of the current politics, it would be highly unlikely that opponents of Joice Mujuru would want her to assume the Presidency in an acting capacity for a long time while the party selects a successor. This would give her an opportunity to consolidate her position. The likelihood, therefore, is that they could move very swiftly after the death of the President to submit a name to the Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of Parliament. Section 14(5) states that this nominated person must take the oath within 48 hours after the Speaker is notified of the name. Thus a swift plan of action could be already in place to ensure that Joice Mujuru never gets much of an opportunity to assume the temporary Presidency should a ‘Sata-scenario’ happen.

But we have already seen that when the Zanu PF politiburo meets, there are always two different and often conflicting versions of what would have been agreed in the meeting. For example, it is still not clear whether Temba Mliswa was dismissed from the chairmanship of Mashonaland West. The party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo says he was not fired but Ignatius Chombo says he was sacked. It is therefore, not improbable that two factions of Zanu PF can submit two different names to Mudenda, the Speaker, claiming that to be the decision of the party. This would put Mudenda in a tight spot.

We saw when the MDC-T split earlier this year that the Speaker was faced with two different communications from the two factions, and he chose to refer the parties to the courts of law to resolve the issue of who had the right to recall MPs. This means the matter of the Presidency could well end up in the courts of law. The judiciary has previously been accused of institutional bias toward Zanu PF. What is not yet known is the Zanu PF faction that the judiciary prefers. But we had a bizarre situation a few weeks ago where the Chief Justice’s and senior judges’ offices were burgled and then Justice Minister Mnangagwa’s office was also allegedly burgled. It could be sheer coincidence but one could also read a deliberately designed pattern.

It would all have been very easy had section 101 of the Constitution been allowed to operate from the outset. Under section 101, when the President dies, the Vice President takes over until the expiry of the former President’s term.  This would have placed VP Mujuru in the driving seat, making her the obvious successor. But with an eye on the succession sub-plot, negotiators, who included Mnangagwa and Chinamasa on the Zanu PF side, suspended section 101 for 10 years and instead, decided to replace it with section 14 of the Sixth Schedule, which allows the ruling party to choose a successor. One could read this as one of the planks that was used to remove an advantage that would otherwise have placed Joice Mujuru in good stead.

It is the desire to ensure that their candidate has the best foot forward that explains the current jousting in Zanu PF. Whoever commands the majority in Zanu PF stands a stronger chance in the succession race should the ‘Sata scenario’ happen during the current term. Realising that Mujuru might still be able to command support to upset these plans, the efforts have now turned to outright removal. Once she is taken out from the equation, it leaves the way for Mnangwagwa more open and easier to succeed Mugabe. And by unfolding events, it appears they are going for the kill.


Why Does Mugabe Keep “Lazy” Ministers?

President Mugabe surprises me. The Herald newspaper reports today, that he ‘slammed’ his Ministers yesterday, for being too lazy. It also reports that he chided them for travelling too much and for organising endless meetings without delivery. But three things stand out and demand scrutiny.

First, in terms of the Constitution, Ministers serve at his pleasure. He is the one who appoints them and has the power to fire them. They are accountable to him as President. Why does he keep lazy ministers? He must take responsibility for his team’s laziness as much as he relishes credit for success. The simple fact is he has the constitutional power to stop it by getting rid of dead wood and appointing more competent people. It is only over a year since he appointed these men and women. They are his people and he can blame no one for poor delivery.

As we so often see in football management, the manager takes responsibility for his team. If he goes on and on blaming his players, whose selection he is responsible for, people will stop taking him seriously. When Brazil was humbled by Germany at the last World Cup, Scolari did not blame his players. He departed and took responsibility.

Second, since he has the constitutional power to hire and fire, why does he feel the need to talk about it in public when he can simply exercise it in the relevant arenas? Every week, he hosts a cabinet meeting – is this not where he should be chiding his lazy ministers and bringing them to account? If he is going to make it a public issue, he might as well name and shame the lazy ones for our entertainment because that is the only purpose it serves. Otherwise all this public talk sounds like mere grandstanding to the public gallery. By now they simply dismiss his talk because they know mdhara anongotaura – he just talks. There is no action.

Third, he has the power to control the amount of travel and if its too much it means he is approving it. It is common practice that every minister who travels does so on the basis of Cabinet authority, which is given by his Office. If they are travelling too much it means they are getting authority to travel from his office. It is this authority that is also the prerequisite for resources for travel. He can easily stop excessive travel by denying them authority and therrfore, resources, to travel. But his Office is granting the authority and is therefore complicit in the excessive travel.

Fourth, he must surely know why his Ministers and senior officials are fond of travel. It is the single most abused government facility under which the state is looted while everything appears legitimate. Government travel is used by officials as a money-spinning scheme. When they travel, they get allowances. Civil servants fight to join the party because of the allowances they get for travel and subsistence.

He should know better. Wherever he goes, whether it’s a trip to the UN Summit in New York or to a religious ceremony at the Vatican, Mugabe himself always has a huge entourage. Most of those on the travelling party have absolutely no business on those trips. They go on trips and disappear into some run down, cheap motel where they share a room in large groups, all in order to save on costs and keep their allowances. Travel is therefore a lucrative industry in Government and if he doesn’t know it, then the 34 years in power have not taught him much about how this ancient and corrupt machinery operates. What they earn in low wages, they certainly make up in travel allowances.

But there is more. This circumstance is also a fertile source of patronage the oil that keeps the corrupt system working. This is because since government travel is so lucrative and everyone wants to go on trips, the boss can control his subordinates by using travel as both a carrot and stick – it’s a carrot that you offer to attract them and a stick when you withdraw it. Thus the more loyal ones get rewarded while the rebels are never on the travel list. In that manner, the boss is able to patronise his subordinates.

At the end of the day, President Mugabe is the ultimate boss. He has the power to fire Ministers that he considers to be lazy and inefficient. It’s not leadership to complain about them in public. So what? How many times has be done that before? And to what end? How many Ministers has he fired for laziness and incompetence in his 34 years of service? If he is serious, he has to demonstrate it by firing those that he regards as lazy.

Diminishing Returns of Negative Campaigning in the Succession Race

Diminishing Returns of Negative Campaigning in the Succession Race

Alex T. Magaisa

Negative campaigning is familiar technique in political contests. Campaigners focus on the personal traits and the policy negatives of the rival with the object of demonising them so that by the time the race begins in earnest, they will be politically wounded. Kusvibisa, as it is known in Zimbabwean political circles, the aim is to soil the reputation of the rival with as much dirt as can be gathered.

It can work effectively, especially when aided by control of propaganda machinery. It creates negatives or amplifies the negatives of the rival. It is a technique that the anti-Mujuru faction has deployed relentlessly in recent months, as the race for succession gathers serious momentum.

It began with Chris Mutsvangwa questioning and discrediting Joice Mujuru’s liberation war record, suggesting that it was a myth that needed to be debunked. Then Grace Mugabe took it to another level, labelling Mujuru as corrupt, lazy, dull, incompetent and devious. She took it to a personal level – severely attacking and humiliating the Vice President, to the extent of publicly refusing to accept her offer of a handshake at the airport.

As we have already observed, this negative approach was designed with the aim of provoking Mujuru into making an ill-judged and reckless response that would put her in a tight spot. They wished for her to commit political suicide by responding without care, as so often happens when one has lost control of their emotions. They would have been severely disappointed by her refusal to capitulate and take the bait.

But useful as it might be, negative campaigning can become a serious liability. A barrage of attacks might work for a time but eventually, the returns begin to diminish, especially if it is not producing the intended effect. Far from doing political injury to Mujuru, the negative campaign, spearheaded by The Herald and the Sunday Mail – with The Chronicle and The Sunday News playing the role of hand-maidens – appears to have generated more political capital for Mujuru. Grace Mugabe has appeared in the public eye as a petty, disrespectful, undignified and vindictive individual compared to Mujuru’s calm and dignified demeanour.  Rather than damage Mujuru, the negative campaign has done serious harm to whatever reputation Grace Mugabe had at the beginning.

It has also exposed those behind her – since most people do not believe Grace Mugabe is an autonomous political actor but that she is no more than a puppet of the political masters whose ambitions dwarf her own but have until now remained in the background.  Those behind her were exposed when she implored people to respect Mnangagwa, clearly her preference, who is Mujuru’s major rival in the succession race. Mngagwa himself has acknowledged her endorsement, chanting the “Pamberi neOrange Crush” slogan that is symbolic of Grace Mugabe’s political trajectory.

What we begin to see now in the state media is an attempt at building up a positive campaign for Mnangwagwa, seeing, no doubt, that continued focus on Grace Mugabe and the exclusively negative campaign against Mujuru has become a liability. Of course, the negative campaign will not end. It will still be there – because it helps to remind and cement in the minds of the public how “bad” and “unworthy” Mujuru is, but we will now begin to see more and more positive coverage of Mnangagwa – as a suitable and credible leader.

It is this change in approach that explains why The Herald today, for the first time in weeks, carries less vitriolic headlines against Mujuru and instead, highlights Mnangagwa as calling for peace and unity. It is plain that the positive headlines and coverage is designed to build the image of their preferred candidate in the succession race.

This is where Grace Mugabe, if she were clever enough to see, would notice the manner in which she is being employed as the broom to do the dirty work. While upon reading the story, it is clear that Mnangagwa is also attacking Mujuru and her faction, The Herald does not prioritise that negativity in its headline. Instead, it presents him positively as a unifier. This is in stark contrast to the manner in which the same paper has cast Grace Mugabe – as a raging beast, attacking everyone in sight, with reckless abandon. It is easy to see who is cast as a hero and who is the villain.

And of course, The Herald deliberately ignores the Mujuru’s call for unity and peace which she made in her dignified speech at Dotito on Saturday. They will say The Sunday Mail had already covered it before but then a quick look at that paper’s headlines demonstrates that it framed her speech as “Mujuru Hits Back at First Lady” – a desperate effort to cast Mujuru as spoiling for a fight with her tormentor. The fact that her response was actually mature and dignified, focusing as it did on unity, peace and humility was deliberately ignored – because of course, that would be too positive.

All this is, of course, hardly surprising. We have already observed that the state media has taken a decidedly anti-Mujuru approach in the succession race. While it has hesitated, with the focus mainly on the dirty job that Grace Mugabe was deployed to do, today’s headline and story shows more clearly that it is pro-Mnangagwa. We also observe that the negative campaign is beginning to get tired and is producing negative effects, hence the apparent change, which more focus on the positive aspects of their preferred candidate. We suspect we will be seeing more of this as the weeks progress, especially as campaigning for the Vice Presidency and therefore, a vantage slot in the succession race, intensifies.



Mujuru Tries to Occupy High Ground

Mujuru Tries to Occupy High Ground

Alex T. Magaisa

For the simple reason that we are privileged to be witnesses to the making of history, we thought it necessary to record events and our analysis on this blog, as they happen. Perhaps one day, those who wish to know and understand what happened in this critical moment of history might find some use in these contributions. For me, it has become my way of diarising events in this landmark moment of our history, when the long-awaited transition from the era of the liberation leader is being played out before the public gallery.

Yesterday, Vice President Joice Mujuru gathered her troops in Dotito, a remote district of Mashonaland Central, which is her home province. The main purpose of the function was to celebrate her recent graduation after being conferred with a doctoral degree by the University of Zimbabwe. However, as it was her first public appearance since the sustained verbal offensive against her person and character by Grace Mugabe, the First Lady, the event had assumed a status far beyond that of a celebratory gathering.

Instead, it became political by virtue of circumstances. What would she say? Would she respond to the taunting that she has been receiving from Grace Mugabe? Who, among her political comrades in Zanu PF, would attend? What would they say? And what about the crowd – how many people would attend and what would they say? All these and more are political questions that weighed heavily on many people’s minds.

In the end, Mujuru’s response was measured and mature – and we suspect, much to the disappointment of her rivals. Her rivals have goaded and prodded her in order to secure a reckless response. They believe her mouth is her weakness – that she can so easily injure herself and her political ambitions by the words that she issues from her mouth. Such recklessness is bound to increase when one is affected by anger, indeed, when one is subjected to extreme provocation. And the comprehensive assault by Grace Mugabe was designed to provoke her into uttering something stupid. They began by speaking in tongues, with veiled attacks but when that produced no reaction, it must have frustrated her rivals.

Even when Grace slipped at her Bulawayo rally and newspapers correctly interpreted her statement as an attack on Mujuru, the spin-doctor, Jonathan Moyo, tried in a clumsy manner, to deflect the blow. Eventually, Grace Mugabe could not be restrained and a few days later she left everyone without a doubt that she was referring to Mujuru. And on Thursday last week, she finally mentioned Mujuru by name and called on her to resign immediately from the Vice Presidency or otherwise an unceremonious exit by way of the sack. Expectations were so high in her rivals’ camp that the state media, which they have successfully manipulated, has been baying for her blood and even wrote her epitaph before the Friday politburo meeting, believing that it would be the end of her. If there is frustration, it is on the part of Grace Mugabe, who on Thursday, pronounced her assault as the “Final Push”, which she also characterised as “the moment of truth”. So Mujuru survived the predicted apocalyptic moment and had her chance to respond on a public stage.

Mujuru could have chosen to launch a counter-attack of the same tone and quality as that issued against her by Grace Mugabe. She could have been equally indecorous, flippant and petty. But that would have been to descend to the level that Grace Mugabe and her minders want her to be. A bitter, nasty cat-fight between two women would leave one person severely bruised and that person would be Mujuru. She is the one with known presidential aspirations and stands closest to that goal. She is the one who is being fought. Soiling her reputation by dismissing her as petty and childish is what her rivals wanted. And they despatched Grace Mugabe to perform that role, leaving themselves without the muck. It’s like the businessman who sends his hwindi (tout) to fight off a rival. The rival would be foolhardy to respond by fighting the hwindi.

Mujuru subtly chose the path of humility over pride. “Ndinezvitadzo asi musandinyepere,” she is reported as having said in Shona, which translates to, “I’m not perfect, I err like everyone else, but do not create fabrications about me.” Accepting that one is fallible is a rare trait among Zimbabwean politicians. Accepting that one can do wrong is not known among our politicians. Admitting to one’s failings suggests to people that one is human. By that statement, Mujuru is trying to speak the language of ordinary men and women, to say to them that she, too, is ordinary. She is not putting herself on a high pedestal of perfection, as her tormentor has been trying to do in recent weeks.

Further, Mujuru seems to understand the drawing power of self-deprecation. “Ndinogona hangu ndisina kukunakira hangu pachiso haisi mhosva yangu asi Mwari wangu arikudenga anofara neni. Ndinogona hangu kunge ndisina chimiri chakakunakira asi Kristu arikufara nemhuno dzangu. Ndinongoti chiregayi kuzvonda wamawona farirayi zvaachakupayi”. Loosely translated, she was saying, “I may not be attractive to you in appearance but that is not my fault and my God who created me is happy with who I am. I may not have an appealing body structure, but Jesus is happy with who I am. All I say to you is, do not despise a person for who they are but be content with what they will deliver to you”.

Again, with these words, Mujuru is humbling herself and communicating that she is not infallible. It is also a subtle response to the unpleasant and snide remarks that Grace Mugabe made about her appearance at the Thursday war veterans rally when she mumbled into the microphone that Mujuru was having sleepless nights and losing weight as a result of her problems. “Varikuonda futi, ehe, varikuwonda” (She is losing weight due to her troubles). In a way, Mujuru is directing the debate away from the personal angle to one that revolves around issues and delivery. That is bound to attract more respect that snide comments about another woman’s appearance.

Another element of her response is that she sought to communicate to Mugabe and not to his wife who has been on her back. She tries in her statements to demonstrate her respect of Mugabe and to reassure him. In speaking to him, she invokes memories of the war – that she remembers her comrades who did not return from the front, those who lost limbs in the war and that therefore, she can never be a sell-out. This is a response to the allegations being constructed against her that she is a sell-out – a nasty charge in the politics of Zanu PF, based as they are, on the liberation narrative.

She is keen to reassure Mugabe that she is a faithful student and disciple of his politics and that she wants to promote unity and togetherness in the party. At the same time, she touches on an issue that probably troubles Mugabe the most – the security of his family. Even though it is his wife who is tormenting her, she carefully chooses not to respond with equal fire but instead asks Mugabe to trust her to unite the party and to ensure that his family is secure. “Ngavachitarisirewo zvinobva kwandiri ndivabanidzirewo mhuri yavo igare zvakanaka muruwadzano,” she says, reassuring Mugabe to trust her with the future of his personal and political family.

When she says, “Tisatukane tisarovane,” (let us not exchange harsh words or violence against each other), she is also speaking the language of peace, unity and tolerance – a language that Mugabe has used regularly in recent years. But it is clearly a response to the vitriol that she has received from Grace Mugabe. Where she might have been expected to respond with harsh words against Grace Mugabe, she chose instead to speak in conciliatory language. In doing so, she has again sought to occupy a high moral ground, because that is what the mature, motherly figure is expected to do. She is obviously very aware of what has been said of her and she probably knows too well what her opponents expect her to do, which would betray her weakness.

But, in the process, she also delivers a subtle warning about the consequences of what is happening. She does this by making reference to the 2018 elections and the consequences of dividing the party and voters through hate speech. She reminds her rivals that in order to succeed, the party needs all votes, including those of persons against whom hate speech is directed. She warns that it would be hard to woo such voters when election time arrives. In so doing, she subtly delivers a warning of the risk of dividing the party and voters and she does so without saying she is leaving the party or inclined to do so.

All in all, what do we learn from Mujuru’s speech yesterday? That she has chosen not to respond directly to Grace Mugabe’s deliberate provocation and instead, she has elected to occupy the moral high ground, as the humble, tolerant, more mature and motherly figure. She has chosen to speak directly to her boss, touching his greatest fears and trying to reassure her that she is loyal and that she can be trusted with his personal and political family, contrary to whatever he has been fed by her rivals. Critically, she has chosen not to descend into an arena where her rivals want her.

As a colleague wants said, if you are wearing your tailored suit and carrying your briefcase, the last thing you want is to respond to the baiting of a hwindi. Because if you do, there will be only one loser, even if you defeat him in a fight. You might win the fight but your suit might be in tatters, your papers strewn all over and reputation soiled. So far, Mujuru seems to have steered clear of the hwindi-style baiting. But then again, as the old saying goes, a day is a long time in politics. Let alone a week. We shall be monitoring this historic episode as the week progresses.


Mugabe Refuses to Leave the Balcony

Mugabe Refuses to Leave the Balcony

A few weeks ago, I recounted a conversation I once had with an old friend, William Bango, who is now sadly departed. I had just taken up a new role and had done a few weeks when he approached me with a word of advice.

“Magaisa,” he said, “Do not let them drag you to the dance-floor. Stay up there on the balcony so that you have sight of the big picture. They will try to drag you down to the dance floor. But it’s rough and tough here. Resist the temptation to come down. Because when you come to the dance-floor, they will step on your feet and pinch your bottom”. He said it in his unique and inimitable fashion, with a laugh at the end, as was his trademark.

It was easy to see the moral of his image. There were people who were provoking unnecessary fights and it was easy to get dragged into those disputes and, in the process, lose sight of the strategic objectives. I have been observing President Mugabe’s approach to the factional drama currently in play in Zanu PF and it struck me that, as is usual in his approach, Mugabe has, so far, refused to leave balcony.

Most observers have been keen to know what Mugabe thinks of all this political drama unfolding before the eyes of the nation. The politburo would have been the perfect arena to get Mugabe’s stance on this issue. The intrigue was increased by the fact that, after all, it was his wife who was making these allegations against his deputy, a deputy that he appointed in terms of the constitution of the land.

Many questions have come to the mind of the public: Did he sanction his wife’s statements? Even if he did not sanction them, does he agree with what she is doing – publicly lambasting and humiliating his Vice President and his subordinates? What are his thoughts on the clear breach of protocol by his wife, who publicly snubbed the hand of the Vice President when she tried to greet her in front of television cameras? Had he spoken to his wife about these things?

When his wife spoke at rallies, she gave the impression that she was speaking on his behalf, indeed, as if she was defending him against an over-ambitious, devious, lazy and incompetent Vice President who piggy-backs on him. She spoke as if she derived authority and sanction from her husband. But Mugabe himself has largely kept quiet in public. He has not spoken a word about the issues that his wife has raised on her whirlwind tour. On the scandalous allegations against his Vice President and his wife’s call for her to resign, Mugabe has kept quiet. He has not backed her but neither has he rebuked her. No, he has not called her to order, as one would have expected of a leader of the Government and party. It is beyond imagination that anyone else would have said the things that Grace Mugabe has said and got away with it. This might suggest that either Mugabe agrees with his wife or if he does not, that he is powerless against her.

Naturally, most people thought the politburo would be the arena at which he would show his hand. But as it turned out, it was a flat affair as the matter was not discussed and was postponed to next week on Wednesday. We are told that the outgoing chair of the Women’s League, Oppah Muchinguri, who has made way for Grace Mugabe, was asked to present a formal report on the matter. But we had the benefit of one statement, which the press has reported, which Mugabe is said to have made before the start of the politburo meeting.

“Ndimi makativambira mashoko kaimi kumadzimai?…apokaapo the fire is on, manage it,” Mugabe is reported by the press as having said to Muchinguri, who has also been Grace Mugabe’s biggest cheerleader and coconspirator in the political crucification of Joice Mujuru. To the non-Shona speaker, a translation of this statement would be, “You are the one/s who started this furore – the political altercation – in the women’s wing. Now the fire is on, manage it”.

Mugabe may have uttered these words in jest but they give us a clue into his thinking and approach to this matter. He was well aware that the waiting media would report his every word.

First, we observe that he is refusing to take responsibility for his wife’s conduct, shifting it instead, to Muchinguri and the women’s wing of the party. As a colleague has brilliantly observed in another forum, this is a typically patriarchal way of handling problems in an African family. When there is a problem, the patriarch refuses to take primary responsibility for it and blames the woman of the house. It is not unusual for example, in the traditional set-up, for the father to blame the mother when their teenage daughter reports that she is pregnant. It has to be the mother’s fault. The mother must deal with it. Success is claimed but failure is shifted onto the shoulders of others.

Thus, notwithstanding the fact that Grace Mugabe is his wife and that he is the leader of the party, he still refuses to take responsibility and places the matter at the door of Muchinguri and the women’s league. Ndezvemadzimai. It is a women’s thing, he says to them. Therefore, deal with it. His backers will defend that he is right to separate family matters from the political. That may be correct but it flies in the face of the fact that Grace Mugabe has been claiming authority to hold rallies and the validity and legitimacy of her political statements on the basis that she is the President’s wife.

Second, he acknowledges that there is a problem in the party. He recognises that there is a fire, which needs to be managed. But he does not want to manage it himself. Instead, he demands that Muchinguri manages it. But how does Muchinguri manage a fire that she started or at the very least, has been fanning? How does she present a fair and objective report when she is part of the team that is making accusations against Mujuru? How does she even manage a situation that she has been glibly stirring, along with her chums? It is clear that Mugabe is demanding the impossible. He knows very well that Muchinguri has no capacity to manage the situation. But in placing responsibility upon her shoulders, he may, in some ways be communicating to her the futility of their campaign. It is probably a rebuke, to say that they failed to manage the issue.

Third, and more importantly, Mugabe is doing either or both of two things: first, he is declaring to all and sundry that he is not part of what has been happening or second, he is refusing to descend from the balcony. Mugabe knows that the dance-floor is a free arena where things can get tough and rough. As the leader, he prefers to stay up on the balcony, watching everyone dance away on the dance-floor. Over the many years in power, has persistently rejected attempts to draw him down to the dance-floor, because once he is down there, he knows that he loses the aura around him and that he leaves himself prone to the free and wild forces of that arena. He has already seen what has happened to his wife.

But more importantly, he knows that once he has left the balcony, he loses sight of the the bigger picture. Once he is on the dance-floor, he is part of the crowd and he is no longer able to see what others are doing beyond the immediate group around him. Mugabe knows that his wife left the balcony sometime ago and he has already observed the consequences of that decision – she has exposed herself in a very bad way. She has chosen a faction and in the process, has lost a large chunk of the party already, before she has even begun to lead.

It may even be that she chose her route into politics against his better judgment. These things happen in marital situations – a spouse makes a decision which the other does not agree with and at some point, the situation develops in such a bad way, confirming the other’s fears. Mugabe may very well be unhappy with his deputy, but it is difficult to imagine that this chaotic and messy way is the manner by which he would have chosen to handle the situation. The indications are the the godfather of Zanu PF has chosen not to be drawn into this messy fight. Already we have seen that the patriarch is reducing it into a “women’s thing”, which he expects them to resolve. He might even find admiration in the manner in which Mujuru handles this adverse situation.

“Creative Destruction” or Apocalypse for Zanu PF?

“Creative Destruction” or Apocalypse for Zanu PF?

Alex T. Magaisa

“Creative Destruction” is a ground-breaking notion championed by free-market economist Joseph Schumpeter in his description of the evolutionary process of capitalism. It has gained currency over the years to describe the manner in which a capitalist economy evolves. The capitalist is obsessed with accumulation of wealth and in order to do so more effectively, the capitalist must remain competitive. One of the chief mechanisms of achieving this outcome is innovation. And while innovation brings new and better products, it also involves the demise and extinction of the old. Thus in very simple terms, perhaps too simplistic, in order to build, there must be some destruction. The gain that comes with innovation is accompanied by pain that attaches to the demise of the old.

Adherents to this reasoning would point to the demise of the old postal industry upon the invention of the internet and mobile telephone. They would point to the innovation in smartphones and the growth of giants such as Apple and Samsung with the decline and pain caused to the old pioneers, such as Nokia. The examples are too many but the principle remains the same – that in the ever-present search for profit, capitalist businesses have be innovative and that causes pain that is felt by the old system and everything attached to it.

Hence the paradox inherent in the term, Creative Destruction – that in creating, there is also some form of destruction; that is the gain, there is also some pain. Of course, economists have grappled with this for years and it is not my station nor is it within my means to interrogate this phenomenon. I only seek to apply it, if superficially and simplistically, in respect to our analysis of the situation presently obtaining in Zanu PF and indeed, Zimbabwe itself.

Is Zanu PF simply facing apocalypse or is it undergoing its own form of Creative Destruction? Those who are more sympathetic will hope it is merely the latter while those with little favour will be hoping that it is facing total demise. All this because of the rupture that has occurred in the wake of the First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s unprecedented call for the resignation of Vice President Joice Mujuru and apparent endorsement of her rival, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

For a long time, it has been known that Zanu PF was divided between two factions: one led by VP Mujuru and another, led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Yesterday, Grace Mugabe declared her choice between the two. As she made her scathing call for Mujuru to resign, Grace Mugabe implored her listeners to “respect” Emmerson Mnangagwa, the clearest indication yet, of her preference. We had already known by her previous pronouncements, that she absolutely hated Joice Mujuru, whom, in a manner that is decidedly undignified, she has called all sorts of names in recent weeks. We suspected that she preferred the rival Mnangagwa faction. Yesterday, she confirmed it.

It has become obvious that the two factions cannot co-exist in Zanu PF, certainly not without the unifying hand of their Capo, President Mugabe. It is either one of them takes over while the other submits or otherwise quits. Either way, it is fair to say that Zanu PF will never be the same again after this episode.

Optimists, will argue that it will be a renewed Zanu PF that emerges from this. They will aver that while those who lose out and suffer the pain of oblivion will represent the “destruction” in the “creative destruction”, nevertheless, those who remain and the entity they will take with them, will be a better innovation, capable of confronting future challenges – the “creative” in the “creative destruction”.  Whether or not this will be an accurate representation, will depend on the amount and quality of the old structure that is lost in this current process and the extent to which it is prepared to fight to retain its place.

And while it appears that the Mujuru faction is facing total annihilation, we must also be less hasty in forming that judgment. So far, the anti-Mujuru faction has been the beneficiary of a “shock and awe” approach to the war and the fact that it is in control of the bulk of the media apparatus in Zimbabwe. Therefore, it has enjoyed the benefit of the propaganda, which, in many ways, has painted a picture of near-total destruction of the Mujuru faction, presenting it as corrupt, dirty and clueless.

We wrote earlier on these pages of the power that is drawn from controlling the information structure, represented more starkly by the State media, which is controlled by the anti-Mujuru faction http://newzimbabweconstitution.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/state-media-abuse-in-zimbabwe-different-faces-same-old-tactics/. Using the media, the anti-Mujuru faction has so far been able to set the agenda, to plant ideas in the minds of the people, to shape public opinion. It has been able to control what Zimbabweans consume by way of news and information on what is happening. And that serving has, quite naturally, been positive for them. It represents a relationship of domination and dominance.

By contrast, the Mujuru faction has hardly been visible in the media except when it is being attacked. When they do appear in The Herald, it is because they are being singled out and attacked by The Herald – the chief hound that is sniffing out, barking at and biting every perceived opponent. Indeed, if you want to know those who are suspected to be with Mujuru, you only have to look for who in Zanu PF is being attacked by The Herald and other state media – so far, Didymus Mutasa, Cephas Msipa, Rugare Gumbo, Simon Khaya Moyo, Temba Mliswa, Ray Kaukonde, Karikoga Kaseke, Paul Chimedza, Amos Midzi, Tendai Savanhu, Jabulani Sibanda.

Control of the media has given the world the impression that the Mujuru faction is in disarray and that they are finished. But this may be premature. As the old adage goes, until the lion learns to tell its own version of events, the tales will always glorify the hunter who tells them.

The one area from which we have not heard any signal so far, but is an area of critical significance, is the military. My observation over the years is that the military represents perhaps the most critical source of power in Zimbabwe. It has been the decisive difference between Zanu PF and the opposition over the years, principally because the military has declared its alignment to and support for Zanu PF and strong dislike for the MDC. The military generals made it very clear that they would never support Tsvangirai by dismissing anyone without liberation war credentials. It is widely believed that it was the military that rescued Mugabe after his defeat to Tsvangirai in the March 2008 elections.  It also played a crucial role in the July 31 election after strident resistance against reforms.

The last time Zanu PF installed its leader, in the mid-1970s, Mugabe became President courtesy of a putsch led by a group of guerrilla commanders following the Mgagao Declaration. He has never relinquished his position since that time. The soldiers who now lead the military come from that generation in which there was no real separation between the military and civilian leaders, and the military had a key role in the selection of civilian leaders.

It is reasonable to suspect that the military generals still see themselves as having a role, albeit one they would like to play outside the public glare, to influence the succession question in Zanu PF, with which they remain tightly aligned. It will be critical, therefore, to know where the military leaders stand on this issue. It is not inconceivable that there is a division of opinion, as we have seen in the political organs pf the party and the war veterans, where leaders have a preference for one of the two factions. It is this possibility of a clash of opinions in the military that can be a source of high risk and danger, which is why the succession issue in Zanu PF is not only a matter of national interest but one of national security as well. It’s fair enough, even if it’s ugly, if politicians trade words against each other but an entirely different matter when it draws in the military. Which is why Grace Mugabe’s casual reference to Defences Forces chief, General Constantine Chiwenga in her speech yesterday, was yet another indication of recklessness, unless, of course, the idea was to inform the Joice Mujuru, that the General was on her side to the extent that she could take liberties with his name like that in a speech of such political gravity.

This is certainly one of the most interesting and fascinating episodes of our politics. Zanu PF, the party that has dominated politics in Zimbabwe for a generation, is undergoing its most defining process since independence – one that optimists will hope is at worst, only of the “creative destruction” type and, while there will be serious pain – both temporary and permanent for those facing the chop – that nevertheless, what will emerge will be a stronger political party. Zanu PF’s opponents, meanwhile, will be hoping it is facing its apocalypse. My view is that a judgment of apocalypse is more hopeful than real, precisely because Zanu PF first did what Kenneth Kaunda’s UNIP failed to do in Zambia – it forced its way into remaining in power during this period of upheaval, while UNIP imploded and disintegrated after it lost power in 1991. Zanu PF could not have afforded to undergo this type of fight outside the chambers of power. Still, things might have been better-handled, with both Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (Tanzania) and Nelson Mandela (South Africa) and Joachim Chissano of Mozambique after them, providing precedents on how to handle succession without causing too much pain and threat to the security of a nation.



The “Cold War” of Harare

The “Cold War” of Harare

Alex T. Magaisa

On Tuesday 21st October 2014, President Mugabe and his entourage flew into Harare from the Vatican, where he had travelled a few days earlier, to attend a Catholic ceremony. He was accompanied by his wife, Grace Mugabe.

On arrival at Harare International Airport, his Vice President, Joice Mujuru, a number of Cabinet Ministers and security services chiefs were, as has become customary, waiting for him on the tarmac. They stood in a long line in order of rank and seniority, to welcome him home.

This ritual may sound odd to most people elsewhere in the world, and understandably so, but then this is Zimbabwe, and in Zimbabwe, as is the case with most of African countries presided over by long-serving strongmen, these ceremonial shows are designed to augment and reify power. That is the protocol and those who offend against it face the spectre of political oblivion.

On this occasion, as President Mugabe disembarked from the plane, he received the extended hand of his deputy, who as the senior politician was standing, as she has done for many years, at the beginning of the line. Then he went on to greet the others. Usually, Grace Mugabe, as First Lady, would follow her husband in greeting the waiting delegates. But on this occasion, Grace Mugabe stood with arms folded and a visibly unhappy demeanour, as VP Mujuru extended her hand. She flippantly rejected the VP’s hand, offending not only protocol, but a basic custom of a people, which compels that upon meeting, people are expected to greet each other, and to do so by way of a handshake.

It is fair to say that the conduct of the woman who wears the cloak of the nation’s First Lady has left many people shocked and appalled. There is cause to suggest that whatever her misgivings about the Vice President of the country, this conduct is not only disgraceful but is unbecoming of a person occupying her lofty station, a station that compels observance of protocol, indeed, a station that respects an office, even if one has little regard for its actual occupant. Joice Mujuru is the Vice President of the country and the offensive gesture is not against her as an individual but the Office of the President, which she represents.

President Mugabe is a man who is many things to many people. To his admirers, he is a heroic, larger-than-life, revolutionary figure. To others, he is a cruel and evil character who has caused more harm than good. To say he divides opinion is as obvious as it is an understatement. But those who have been in his company – friends and foes alike – often confess that the man is host to a form of charm that is quite disarming. That he is a man of incredible intellect has probably been helpful. Mugabe himself has in the past expressed a preference for most things gentlemanly. He has declared his passion for cricket, which he believes to be a game for gentleman, indeed a game that, in his view, transforms men into gentlemen. “I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen” he is often quoted as having said. He is renowned for his sartorial tastes, which bear towards the English style of Savile Row and likes to be seen as an abiding gentleman. They say he is an incredibly polite man. Against all this, it is hard to think, however much he would dislike an individual, that he would publicly reject his or her hand, against protocol, in the fashion that his wife did on Tuesday. But she had done the same a few days earlier, as they left for the Vatican, rejecting the hand of VP Mujuru, as the ministers bade them farewell on their way to the Vatican’s religious ceremony.

It is hard to believe that the behaviour of Grace Mugabe has the sanction of her husband. It is difficult to imagine that he, a man who has previously shaken hands with his avowed enemies, from Josha Nkomo in the 1980s to Morgan Tsvangirai after 2008, has not spoken to his wife and dissuaded her from adopting the course that she has taken. Mugabe once described Nkomo’s PF Zapu, his party’s then nemesis, as a cobra that enters a man’s house of which the only way to deal with it is to crush the head – that head of course being a metaphorical reference to Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe has said the most unkind words to describe Morgan Tsvangirai, his bitter opponent since 2000 – Tsvangirai was bludgeoned by Mugabe’s security forces in March 2008 and Mugabe responded by saying “chakadashurwa” – a harsh Shona word to describe the gratuitous violence that had been meted on his rival. It was harsh and cruel. But when protocol demanded, he shook the hands of both men, one as his Vice President and the other as his Prime Minister.

And when an uncouth group of his supporters booed Tsvangirai at a public ceremony during the tenure of the Coalition Government, Mugabe rebuked them and demanded that they show some respect. He may not have liked Tsvangirai, the man who had defeated him in March 2008 and almost wrested power from him, but he recognised that he was the Prime Minister of the country and that his office demanded respect. After the GNU, Mugabe could have been vindictive and chosen to throw Tsvangirai out of the government property in which he still lives. He could have been harsh and chosen the path of vengeance and humiliation particularly since he was contesting the process and outcome of the elections. But he did not do that. Mugabe may have seen the political purpose of maintaining moral leverage over his rival, and chose, therefore, to avoid the path of vengeance. Mugabe is a master of the long game – in dealing with his rivals, he sees far, very far, so that he chooses to sacrifice the immediate gains of vengeful acts and retain the longer advantage. Clearly, this is not a quality given to his wife.

It is easy to say Grace Mugabe’s conduct has the blessings of her husband, but it is equally probable that Mugabe is facing the same problem that spouses face in their daily lives, when the wife or husband will not associate with the friend or relative of his or her spouse. Many people face these challenges – the wife will not welcome the husband’s mother into her house because she does not like her or the husband will not associate with the wife’s friend because he thinks she is a bad influence.  These are the travails faced by everyday men and women in their ordinary lives. The difference is Mugabe has to deal with it on the national stage and, for a man of his age and station, it must be a cause of huge embarrassment.

Some will say Mugabe himself carries a hard heart. They will cite the fact that he never forgave his erstwhile comrades in the war whom he believed had caused offence. Among them, are the likes of Henry Hamadziripi, Ndabaningi Sithole, Dzinashe Machingura – all late and all of whom were refused recognition as National Heroes.  But then there is also Edgar Tekere and Enos Nkala, with whom he fell out in the end, who seem to have been forgiven. No doubt, he is a complex character, President Mugabe, a man of contradictions who can be obnoxious when he chooses. But when it comes to protocol, he, more often than not, leans towards than against it.

To receive the hand of the person who wishes to greet you is good protocol but far more than that, it is what decency demands. It is what custom, passed from generation to generation, demands of us. It is what good human beings do. It is an element of that great gift bequeathed to us by generations before us – Hunhu, known more popularly as Ubuntu.

By her conduct, Grace Mugabe has shown that this is something beyond her but in the process, she has shown disrespect not just to Joice Mujuru as a person but her husband who is her appointer and the entire Office of the President. That conduct is a serious assault on the integrity of that office. Anyone else acting in her manner would be ridiculed, not least by the state media, for bringing the highest office in the land into disrepute, contrary both to convention and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. If it was VP Mujuru who had behaved so indecorously, she would have been vilified by The Herald. But instead, The Herald describes VP Mujuru as “wayward”. President Mugabe has an obligation to uphold that constitution and to protect the integrity of his office but unfortunately, it is the person with whom he shares holy matrimony, who is trashing it.

One day, sooner or later, the First Lady and the Vice President will be brought together. I’m certain mediators are working round the clock to find settlement to the cold war and bring the embarrassing episode to an end. They will be shown on ZBC TV, shaking hands and smiling – doing a ‘mini-Unity Accord’, but the truth is, what has transpired will neither be forgotten nor forgiven. It will leave a deep scar – one that no amount of surgery will conceal.