Kingmakers: Make no mistake, Zim military holds sway in succession debate

Editorial Analysis

So, it is quickly emerging that history is becoming a new frontier for the Zanu PF factions engaged in a bitter succession wrangle in the race to replace urging and ailing veteran leader President Robert Mugabe.

It remains a fact that war credentials have been key in deciding who should run Zimbabwe, but can this remain a permanent feature in the modern-day Zimbabwe.

In the past weeks, we have seen influential people within Zanu PF, from military chiefs to party bigwigs fighting to tell their role in the liberation struggle, an event which took place more than four decades ago.

Critical questions need to be asked here: Should one’s role in the liberation struggle be a license to dictate who should take over from Mugabe?

Is this generation permanently arrested by the past such that no one else without war credentials can replace Mugabe

If the answer to both questions is yes, will the military hold sway to the succession debacle? Will they be the King makers?

It appears history will continue to play a critical part in the identification of a potential leader.

As it stands, Zanu PF factions have resorted to glorifying the role of their leaders in the liberation struggle with the latest spate of words between Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Army generals which include ZDF commander Constantino Guveya Chiwenga and Air Marshal Perrance Shiri dominating the media space.

Chiwenga and Shiri trashed Moyo’s role in the liberation struggle, accusing him of being a war deserter while Moyo has threatened to spill the beans on the role of the army in the 1980s Gukurahundi genocide.

As reported earlier on Moyo, a key proponent of the G40 faction is in the process of making a documentary to trash the role played by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the liberation struggle.

Details indicate that several media personnel have travelled to Matebeleland and Midlands remote areas, interviewing people, incentivized to make up stories about the Vice President.

Mnangagwa is a key contender in the race to succeed Mugabe but the G40 group has vowed to derail his ascendency. The military is however backing Mnangagwa’s candidature.

While G40 is ready to take the fight to Mnangagwa’s doorstep, a major question is: Can Mnangagwa’s history be trashed after having spent more than 50 years in nationalist politics at the same time being backed by the military?

Mnangagwa was arrested for blowing a train and spent 10 years in prison. He escaped the hangman because of his age. It was during that time that he also met with Mugabe and other nationalist leaders who had been arrested.

In Zimbabwe, the Joint Operation Command (JOC) which brings together the army, police and intelligence chiefs has been key to Mugabe and his Zanu PF’s battle for political survival since the emergence of the opposition MDC.

In all previous elections, Mugabe’s last line of defense has always been the military.

In the wake of the Zimbabwean presidential elections, in both 2008 and the 2013 polls, the Joc de facto took over control of the day-to-day decision-making of government, resulting in the country effectively operating as a military junta.

In all the elections, JOC operates much like an army embedded in the former liberation movement’s party structures actively working to ensure the regime’s stranglehold on power. It has always worked behind the scenes to protect the system from disintegration in Zimbabwe and campaigned covertly for Mugabe and Zanu PF.

The military in Zimbabwe holds all the cards in the succession debate. In fact, it is not a debate at all. Mugabe remains their candidate of choice, but in his absence, they unilaterally endorse Mnangagwa. Whilst G40 is putting up a spirited fight, without the blessing of the military, their efforts are doomed.

A lot of noise has been made of late, but, make no mistake about it, as things stand, the military has all the power, and Emmerson Mnangagwa will take over from Mugabe. That is how the cookie crumbles.