PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s penchant for throwing out into the cold party colleagues who threaten his stranglehold on power only to recall them into positions of responsibility may well provide embattled Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her allies with a way back into the party although with diminished influence.
Mujuru and her allies who include senior party and government officials like Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, Public Service minister Nicholas Goche and expelled spokesperson Rugare Gumbo have recently seen their political world crumbling around them with accusations that they plotted Mugabe’s assassination.
The accusations saw Mujuru losing the vice-presidency which she assumed 10 years ago under highly acrimonious circumstances when at least six provincial chairpersons supporting Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa were thrown out.
Back-in-favour Jacob Mudenda, himself a victim of the party’s infamous clean-up inspired by the 2004 Tsholotsho debacle, on Friday implored the party to embrace and “gently mentor remorseful party members”.
“This plot [to oust Mugabe] involved some amongst us, under the leadership of then Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her cabal of senior politburo members who had been enticed by the Americans and some Europeans with promises that they would pour billions into Zimbabwe once they succeeded in allying with the opposition formations to oust Zanu PF and its iconic President and first secretary from power,” said Mudenda.
“What has been done is done. The next few days, months even must be a time to heal and reconcile. Those who repent and are remorseful must not be persecuted, but we must embrace and gently mentor them back into rectitude.”
According to University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure, Mugabe will not seek to incinerate and bury Mujuru.
Masunungure said Mudenda’s speech sets the tone of the next phase of Mugabe and Zanu PF strategic politics in which there will be healing and reconciliation with Mujuru and her allies as they have been humiliated and sufficiently destroyed in order to ensure Mugabe remains in full control of the party.
“This has been essentially a demotion congress, it has been about demoting Mujuru and now that this has been accomplished, Mudenda is pointing out on the need to guard against overkill.
This is exactly the same strategy that was adopted against Mnangagwa who had garnered the support of eight out of 10 provinces and according to Masunungure, Mujuru has been treated more viciously than Mnangagwa because “unlike Mnangagwa, her support was deep-rooted, anchored in the grassroots of the party”.
And Masunungure’s assessment may well be spot on given that on Saturday, Mugabe himself said apart from the expelled Gumbo, the others were not being pushed out of the party, they will only lose their positions, but be allowed to continue as ordinary party members.
In the final analysis, Mugabe has once again diverted congress away from the contentious issue of succession by annihilating the Mujuru faction.