PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week Friday started what one might call his first ever obvious attempt at preparing for his demise.
To replace the sacked Joice Mujuru he elevated Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to the position of Vice President; at the same time he assigned his wife, Grace, to the helm of the powerful Zanu PF Women’s League.
In Mugabe’s calculation, both positions are strategic enough that either of the two occupants, depending on how events turn out in future, could eventually succeed him. Moreover, both Grace and Mnangagwa have strong reasons to want to be in charge of a post-Mugabe dispensation.
Having been the chief cog in the 1980s Genocide, Mnangagwa shares skeletons with Mugabe rendering the two mutually vulnerable. Naturally, Mnangagwa must feel obliged to inherit power so he can secure his master’s legacy and in turn ensure his own personal safety.
For her part, Grace is both a mother to Mugabe’s young children and a custodian of the First Family’s business interests. It is only when she has some degree of power that she can continue to be fully in charge of the empire after Mugabe.
While both calculations may look sound and straightforward to Mugabe, there are other dynamics and implications to consider. Two questions will suffice: what kind of leadership will Mnangagwa and or Grace usher in? Will either of the two be wholly loyal to Mugabe after he is gone?
Mnangagwa loves money and has got intelligence and business connections worldwide. As is known, intelligence and commerce go hand-in-hand and that makes the first vice president relevant if not the right man in the West’s calculations.
So, if he ever comes to power, Mnangagwa will most likely want to open Zimbabwe up to Western interests and, in turn, secure the country’s readmission into the broader community of nation states.
There are signs already that he may do so. For example, a couple of years back, he said he was not one of those who thought the West had any ulterior motives towards Zimbabwe. This means he has no problem with the West despite Mugabe appearing to have loads of them. Therefore, it will be easy for Mnangagwa to successfully negotiate his acceptance in the West.
Background is also in his favour. During the 1980s and beyond, Mnangagwa worked hand-in-glove with the princes of the shadow world like the late Ken Flower, Colonel Dyke and Dan Stannard through whom he was connected to the international intelligence community. In the world of intelligence one rule applies: once one of them always one of them. It is probable therefore that one of the first things he will do on attaining power would be to revive his international connections (that is if he ever cut them).Advertisement
What this means is that, in order to quickly secure his admission to the community of notable leaders, Mnangagwa may have to betray Mugabe and travel to either the USA or Britain to assure them that he is different from his master.
It also seems almost obvious that Mugabe wants to be remembered as a revolutionary par excellence who, thanks Third World gullibility, successfully defied the West and instigated a new form of African confidence and impunity. But Mnangagwa will have to sacrifice that legacy to secure immunity from prosecution and to win acceptance. This means he may have to betray to remain loyal.
This is how: once he is accepted in the West, there won’t be any pressure from outside and that will enable him to crash the internal agitation for justice. This means all the crimes committed under Mugabe will be easily and smartly wiped away and no trace of evidence will be left behind.
That way Mnangagwa will naturally destroy the opposition without firing a bullet because the ground upon which the drive for change stands would be permanently shattered. Mugabe’s dream of destroying any opposition to his name and values will have been achieved and so will his wish for the scale of his crimes to remain hidden.
It is not as if Mnangagwa will not fire any bullet though. As we have said, once he has been accepted internationally there will naturally be a blind eye to the goings on in the country. Zimbabwe will be held as a safe destination and whatever will happen inside would be dismissed as internal matters not warranting international enquiry.
That way, Mnangagwa will have been awarded the blank cheque he so much needs to carry out his own purges. Woe betides them who stood in his way as he sought to deputise Mugabe in 2004. Woe betides them who belong to any particular group of people he is known to resent. It is, at this moment, that we may have our “rivers of blood.”
Indications are that our Koba is already preparing the ground to justify his brutal crackdown on his real and imagined opponents after the demise of Mugabe. Ahead of the Zanu PF congress, Mnangagwa survived a car accident and shortly after he survived a poisoning attempt. Co-VP, Phelekezela Mphoko, survived an accident too. The public response so far shows that few if any believe the accidents to be genuine. Many believe these narrow escapes are both a fraud and a prelude to a crackdown on opponents and even fellow faction members.
Now what about Grace? What will her rule entail? If a man like Mnangagwa may be forced to betray his master what would stop Grace from doing the same? She, like Mnangagwa, loves money. In her case, it is even worse. One can’t imagine that her affair with Mugabe was made possible by anything other than both fear and money.
Despite having a PhD, one doesn’t get the sense that she has any sense of procedure. Her behaviour during her so called Meet-the-People rallies showed her to be a loose cannon. As such, her rule may turn out to be a street brawl where prophets, crooks and other malcontents will thrive. Corpse making, bedroom and kitchen transactions and other related vices will be so brazen a coup, if not a war, will become necessary.