Prominent publisher and political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza, last week gave credence to suspicion that the 2018 plebiscite might be called off, when he told a media stakeholders conference in Harare, that the country’s elections are controlled by the military at their KG6 barracks, and that there are two reasons why next year’s poll is unlikely, namely Mugabe’s failing health and a possible formation of another inclusive government.
An international media report on Mnangagwa allegedly planning to seal a deal for a Governement of National Unity, with former prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, that would run for a couple of years to manage a post-Mugabe transition, while stabilising the political and economic environment in the country to avoid chaos went viral on social media a fortnight ago, with Tsvangirai categorically denying the existence of such a pact.
High ranking army sources said the daring move by the security apparatus to support a Mnangagwa presidency “come what may” is reminiscent of the 2008 elections ordeal, where the army’s top lieutenants came to Mugabe’s rescue after he had suffered a shock first round defeat to Tsvangirai.
“The media has eyes, but it cannot see,” said a Brigadier who asked not to be named due to the sensativity of the matter. “Zimbabwe is enjoying peace and stability because of the army. I don’t see a scenario whereby this country will be ruled by someone without endorsement from the military. Our president was almost booted out in 2008, but we became the last line of defence and ensured it did not happen. It is in the same vain that the security leadership have settled for our vice president, who has been our minister on numerous occassions. Watch and see.”
Mugabe, according to the Washington Post, summoned his top security officials to a government training center near his rural home in central Zimbabwe on the afternoon of March 30 2008, to inform them that he had lost the presidential vote held the previous day. The Zanu PF strongman told the gathering “he planned to give up power in a televised speech” to the nation the next day, but the country’s military chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, responded that the choice was not Mugabe’s alone to make.
The paper citing two firsthand accounts of the meeting, said Chiwenga told Mugabe his military would take control of the country to keep him in office or the president could contest a runoff election, directed in the field by senior army officers supervising a military-style campaign against the opposition. Mugabe eventually won a landslide victory during a run-off.
National security chefs, according to the army sources are said to have consented to Mnangagwa’s takeover ahead of any other Zanu PF contender, during a security meeting held in the capital last month under the auspices of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), when Mnangagwa was in South Africa receiving treatment in Johannesburg, following a poisoning scare after allegedly making an “adverse reaction” to a milkshake drink served at a ruling party rally in Gwanda.
JOC is a shadowy quasi military organ, bringing together the country’s military-security complex which includes the army, and its military intelligence wing and Presidential Guard, Air Force, police, prisons and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to manage homeland security affairs.
Two other candidates have now emerged as hot favourites to replace Mugabe when he steps down, apart from Mnangagwa, and these are; First Lady, Grace Mugabe said to be viciously pushing for the vice president’s ouster before the 2018 poll with support from the G40 faction composed of young turks inside the party, and defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, who has been praised for his humility and loyalty to Mugabe by G40 masterminds. However some say Sekeramayi is only being thrown into the ring to act as a political buffer for Grace, while denting Mnangagwa’s prospects.
The first lady only last week during another so called Youth Interface rally with the President in Bindura, stunned Zanu PF supporters when she insinuated that Sekeramayi is likely going to be Mugabe’s successor, after disclosing that her husband had some time ago called for the defence minister at his bedside in Borrowdale “to give him instructions on what to do” upon suffering a terrible diarrhoea for about two weeks, as he feared he was about to die.
“I can confirm that it is now official that VP Mnangagwa is going to be the next leader of this country,” said one senior army official based at Defence House in Harare. “This has been agreed upon by the leaders of JOC. A meeting was held last month when both the vice president and president were away in South Africa. From their (security chiefs) point of view, the president’s succession issue is now a matter of national security, therefore it cannot be left to Zanu PF alone. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander himself is convinced that our country is still under outside aggression, and only someone like the vice president will not compromise national security.”
Mugabe was also coincidentally in South Africa during Mnangagwa’s hospitalisation, attending to a Sadc meeting and diplomatic storm, after Grace had been slapped with assault charges by a South African citizen, Gabriella Engels, a twenty year old model and nightclub hostess, who accused her of assaulting her with an extension cord at a Johannesburg hotel where her party freak sons rented oppulent flats. Grace claims to have been in South Africa to seek medical attention for her sore leg.
Spotlight Zimbabwe has since reported that Mnangagwa now has considerable backing from influential foreign powers such as China, India and Britain. The British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, has been accused of sympathising with the vice president’s faction in Zanu PF, a charge she has dismissed vehemently.