PRESIDENT ROBERT Mugabe is slowly, but surely, losing his grip on Zanu PF, judging by the way senior party members are disregarding his passionate calls for peace and tolerance, political analysts have said.
The analysts told NewsDay yesterday that Mugabe was evidently losing his stranglehold on the party, as his peace calls continue to fall on deaf ears, with party heavyweights singing from a completely different hymn book.
The latest evidence of defiance was at the Independence Day celebrations on Thursday where Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu vowed that no “pencil will take away the country brought up by a gun”.
A few minutes later, Mugabe was on the podium, reiterating his calls for peace and urged the electorate to support parties of their choice.
MDC99 leader Job Sikhala said Mugabemight be genuine in his calls for peace, but his lieutenants were betraying him.
“That’s why I say some of his ministers are not obeying Mugabe’s orders. He has to preach the message to his service chiefs, ministers and politburo members that they should preach peace and act against perpetrators,” said Sikhala.
In his speech, Mugabe said reports of violence in areas like Mbare were embarrassing to him and the nation and police should arrest perpetrators without fear or favour.
“I was shocked at the sensibility and also the level of seriousness his (Mugabe’s) face demonstrated on Thursday. Rather than for us to condemn him, I think we must compliment him for what he said. For the first time I saw his face showing seriousness about violence,” said Sikhala.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said on Thursday Shamu was an embarrassment to the President and must resign in shame.
“We welcome the call for peace and that the police must arrest perpetrators of violence. This is what we have been calling for as MDC that Mugabe gives a clear order to (Police Commissioner-General Augustine) Chihuri to arrest perpetrators . . . but sometimes Zanu PF institutions don’t listen to Mugabe and this was evidenced by Shamu who continued on a warpath against other people despite an order from his principal. We view the statement by Shamu as despicable and he must be gracious enough to resign,” said Mwonzora.
A recent report by Crisis in Zimbabwe titled Pre-election detectors: Zanu PF attempt to reclaim political hegemony, alleged massive voter intimidation ahead of elections.
It alleges that in one instance, war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda fired gunshots at a rally as an intimidatory tactic.
“Guns were fired and paraded to intimidate the villagers especially at night far from observers as Sibanda promised to roast livers of opposition supporters in the aftermath of the poll,” read the report.
Dumisani Nkomo, a political analyst, said Mugabe’s calls for peace were nothing, but rhetoric as shown by the behaviour of his ministers, police and State actors.
“His calls are welcome, but the problem is the gap between the rhetoric and what is on the ground. When you talk of peace, (yet at the same time) talk of arrest of people for demonstrating, arrest of people in the civic society, meetings being barred,” he said.
“His calls for peace are nothing new. Remember the other time he was talking of peace, but people were being beaten up outside Parliament and terror groups are active including Chipangano and another one in Kwekwe.”
Recently, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai hinted that most Zanu PF ministers were not heeding Mugabe and named Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa as one of them.
He said sometimes in their Monday meetings, Mugabe shows surprise at Chinamasa’s actions.