Mugabe’s men who ensure he stays put
by MARK SCOFIELD
President Robert Mugabe’s party Zanu-PF may be facing its toughest election
battle in its 32-year-old grip on power.
The party has overtly shown that it will not back down from the fight to
dominate Zimbabwe’s political landscape just yet.
The next election is important as it would end the three-year-old unity
government that Zanu-PF brokered with the rival Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in February 2009, and would give way to an elected government
to take power.
Zanu-PF has wrested power from the MDC, which was formed in 1999 to unseat
it from power, through a mixture of violence, intimidation and patronage. It
has also resisted sanctions against its top brass imposed by the European
Union in 2001 and the US in 2003.
While Mugabe has towered over the party and reined-in factionalism that
threatened to tear it apart, Zanu-PF has mostly relied on key figures to
marshal it forward and deliver victory at elections.
The Sunday Times this week tracks the oscillation of power between key
figures in Zanu-PF in presidential elections from 2002 to the upcoming one.
2002 Presidential Election
Former i nformation and p ublicity m inister Jonathan Moyo single-handedly
managed Zanu-PF’s election campaign in the hotly contested 2002 presidential
poll . He turned the party’s fortunes around after it had been stunned by
the emergence of the MDC and its growing support. Moyo stepped into the
foray when Zanu-PF was still smarting from the February 2000 rejection of a
referendum on a new constitution, perceived to be thumbs-up to the MDC and
its links in civic society.
A brutal Zanu-PF election campaign unfolded, hinging on farm invasions and
sharp talk of a “Third Chimurenga” – a denotation of the militant stance
Zanu-PF had assumed against the opposition.
The opposition included “sell-outs” such as private and foreign media
journalists, civic society groups and MDC activists.
Moyo also enacted a raft of media laws – whose effects are still being felt
today – among them the draconian Access to Information and Protection of
He also upped the use of propaganda jingles in the state media in support of
Land reform became the centrepiece of Zanu-PF’s election campaign in 2002 as
the party sought to cast itself as being under attack from Western
imperialists opposed to its attempt to correct the colonial injustices of
2008 Presidential Election
After Moyo’s stint , the baton was passed to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Governor Gideon Gono. Gono had his work cut out for him – six years after
the 2002 election, the country’s economy had collapsed.
The rhetoric of land and a “Third Chimurenga” had lost its shine, as
hyper-inflation tore into the economy, leaving a trail of empty supermarket
shelves, long queues at banks and wads of useless Zim dollars in people’s
hands. Seen as Zanu-PF’s “saviour” then, Gono halted the party’s collapse by
printing more Zim dollars and financing Zanu-PF activities with the printed
The election manifesto of land redistribution, however, continued to be the
central plank of Zanu-PF’s election campaign with tractors, fertiliser and
farming inputs given free to rural voters as Gono bankrolled Mugabe’s
campaign efforts throughout the country.
At the time, Gono was widely feared in the country by businesses and within
political circles, and had risen to being the de facto second-most important
person after Mugabe.
However, the shine is coming off Gono as the RBZ strongman stands accused by
his former advisor, Munyaradzi Kereke, of “stealing millions” for his
Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere is the youngest
serving cabinet minister and has strongly emerged as Zanu-PF’s man of the
Kasukuwere is tasked with winning elections for Zanu-PF using the
indigenisation drive and the take-over of mining companies to ratchet up
support with voters.
His political star has, as a result, also been rising, with talk of the
young minister being a “Young Turk”, and mooted as a likely successor to the
Political analyst Charles Mangongera said: “Kasukuwere is known to harbour
political ambitions for higher office, but only time will tell whether
Mugabe considers him a part of his inner circle, or like Julius Malema was
to South African President Jacob Zuma, he will just be a useful cog that
will be cast away as soon as he has outlived his usefulness.”
But for now the 41-year-old Kasukuwere seems bent on focusing his energy on
implementing the 51% indigenisation law, with few clues being given away
over his political ambitions. He has cast himself as a firebrand youth
leader, champion of the poor and a vehement opponent of Western imperialism,
who is bent on ensuring that Zimbabwe controls its mineral and economic
The next election is likely to be bloody, as foreign companies will take the
fall for Zanu-PF’s desperation to win the election and curry favour from
voters at whatever cost- regardless of how high that might be.
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