Around 2016, serious ructions opened up in the ruling Zanu PF then led by veteran Machiavellian politician Robert Mugabe with two factions wrestling to control the party in the event that Mugabe disengaged from politics.
There was a group of young Turks operating under the Generation 40 (G40) moniker fronted by former first lady Grace Mugabe and had within its ranks notable figures like Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Ignatius Chombo, among others.
G40 was bitterly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe in the event that the veteran nationalist disengaged from politics.
For some time, the G40 group was an untouchable lot, strolling atop the waters as they enjoyed the undiluted backing of the former first lady.
In typical movie fashion, the tide turned, and the G40 hawks were left scurrying for cover following the November 2017 events.
Zanu PF director for information Tafadzwa Mugwadi was quoted as saying G40 had fallen and will never rise again.
“Yes, they may waste time engaging in shenanigans of one way or the other to sow disunity in the party, abusing names of senior leaders of the party, but no one takes cognisance of their nonsense.
“They are ‘small boys’ [who cannot] shake the walls of Zanu PF unity, from the president to the ordinary membership,” Mugwadi said.
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However, the movie was far from over.
This past weekend, the ruling party held its central committee elections which aimed to select 223 members of the highest decision-making body in the party outside congress.
A number of party newbies and bigwigs battled for seats.
Among those who contested the elections were individuals who at one point or the other were dumped out of the ruling party for belonging to the G40 tent or were accused of warming up to the faction.
Politicians who were once perceived as G40 such as Francis Nhema, Webster Shamu, Sydney Sekeramayi, Lewis Matutu, Prisca Mupfumira, James Makamba and Supa Mandiwanzira, among others, contested and won the central committee elections.
This has left many questioning whether the country was seeing the resurrection of the G40 group.
Have these individuals “repented” and are prepared to work under a system they once fought? If the answer is positive, then it will reinforce the party’s standing ahead of the watershed 2023 harmonised elections.
However, if we are witnessing a G40 renaissance, what are the implications of this for the stability of Zanu PF?
To what extent can this regeneration affect the party’s preparations for the 2023 plebiscite?
Media and political researcher Admire Mare said the elections showed that the G40 elements cannot be completely wished away despite comments made in 2017 that the Lacoste faction was trying to “remove thieves around Mugabe”.
“They will continue to be thorns in the flesh of various iterations of Zanu PF. This is especially more pronounced in Mashonaland provinces where supporters feel that the 'Karangaisation' of the state and party is contributing to their marginalisation.
“It just goes to show that Lacoste has no total control of Zanu PF. There are many factions, some organised along ethnic and other stratification variables. The grassroots are resisting elite-driven politics through supporting their own,” said Mare.
Those who feel the G40 resurgence is on an upward trajectory cite how the ruling party is unsettled by the Sybeth Musengezi court case.
Musengezi, a youth league member filed papers at the High Court in October last year seeking to have the November 2017 Zanu PF central committee meeting that confirmed Mnangagwa as the acting president declared null and void.
Former Cabinet minister and party commissar also considered a G40 kingpin, Kasukuwere is accused of being the brains behind the court case.
According to researcher Lazarus Sauti, Mnangagwa is manipulating the G40 remnants to his advantage but if not done properly, it can ricochet and harm the party.
“Team Lacoste turned against G40 to safeguard its interests. The militarised faction catapulted President Mnangagwa to the helm of the party and the country.
“Just like Mugabe, Mnangagwa played the Machiavellian role — the manipulation role — to consolidate his power. This, therefore, means that the re-election of Team G40 can consolidate ED’s position at the helm of the party and country. At the same time, it can reignite the factionalism flame and tear Zanu PF apart before, during, and after the 2023 general election,” Sauti said.
A highly placed source within the party said the Lacoste is quickly losing ground at the grassroots as seen by how some bigwigs linked to the Lacoste faction lost to people perceived to be G40.
“In Shurugwi, for example, people are happy with Nhema’s victory. He almost failed to contest because some individuals sought to block him. However, the people had to speak out and they did so in an emphatic fashion. The way he defeated Samuel Mumbengegwi showed his popularity. Some bigwigs were just riding on the Lacoste ticket while they were not in touch with the people.
“If the G40 clique is on a mission to reclaim its place in national politics, then we are in for an interesting political season,” said the source.