THE next time you hear about Zanu PF factionalism, think about the very bad things it does to taxpayers’ money. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and a host of other development agencies will certainly not be amused. The IMF, for one, has given the government some good marks under the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP). However, factionalism in the ruling party represents a big red flag that announces unnecessary expenditure and a gaping detour on the road to recovery from a drawn-out economic crisis.
Factionalism, unsurprisingly, is driven either by the quest for solid power in the ruling party’s festering succession politics or the preservation of existing power. In 2014, before the party’s December congress, the most talked about factions were led by Joice Mujuru on one hand and Emmmerson Mnangagwa on the other. The latter formed an amorphous alliance with President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and other Zanu PF high-ranking members, effectively pushing out Mujuru from the party and national vice presidency. Scores of senior members went over the cliff with her.
As Mnangagwa basked in the glory of replacing Mujuru—a long time rival—and enhanced chances of becoming the next president of Zimbabwe, the trio of Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere, all influential party members, broke ranks with him and snatched away Grace in early 2015. They now belong to a camp commonly known as G40 and seem to be gaining ground in a plot to do a Mujuru on Mnangagwa so as to ensure a safe landing in the post-Mugabe era, but the man they call the Crocodile will die another day and seems hell bent on succeeding Mugabe.
Mugabe is the overarching agency in the factional turf wars. Factionalism is good for him because it keeps him in power. The factions do all they can to push each other away from Mugabe and he lets it so. The moment a faction looks too powerful and poses a threat to his hold on power, he sways to the “victim side” and does its bidding to a significant extent. He went with the Mnangagwa faction because he felt that Mujuru was about to wrest the crown from him. He is now siding with his wife and G40 because Mnangagwa has gained admirers in both the west and the east, if reports that western diplomats and China now prefer him as a successor to Mugabe are anything to go by. Worryingly, Mugabe seems to be increasingly losing potency in the face of his wife’s machinations.Advertisement
Dynamics in Zanu PF, being the ruling party, must have natural influence on national policy, governmental decisions, actions and systems. That influence is desirable only if it is positive and progressive or bona fide. The problem is that the power turf wars in Zanu PF have spawned retrogressive influences on national governance when they should be confined to the political institution.
One bad impact that the factional fights have made relates to the functions and processes in the executive arm of government. More precisely, they have caused unwarranted and expensive firing of cabinet ministers and resultant cabinet reshuffles. The expulsion of Mujuru also entailed the firing of a combined 16 full and deputy ministers. Bureaucratic staff could also have met the same fate or were relocated. Just recently, as Grace and G40 upped the ante on the Mnangagwa or Lacoste faction, Mugabe fired Chris Mutsvangwa, the war veterans’ welfare minister. His wife, Monica, who was the deputy minister in the economic planning and investment portfolio, went the same way. There is a likelihood that more will follow as Mugabe panders to his wife’s whims. There is a chance, though slim, that Mnangagwa can also be removed or moved to a lower post if the G40 typhoon persists. The two ministers need to be replaced. That’s not all. Those that have been fired from their ministerial posts have also been fired or suspended from the party. That means scores of by-elections, some of which are yet to be conducted.
Firing of ministers and accompanying cabinet reshuffles have far-reaching financial implications and strain an already troubled treasury. The ministers take away with them expensive vehicles that government would have bought for them, in addition to other golden handshakes. Those that replace them are bought new cars, get new houses or, as in several current cases that include Makhosini Hlongwane, the sports minister, get booked into five star hotels for extended periods. Fired ministers do not immediately vacate accommodation provided by government, which means that they may continue to incur rental, communication, power and other utility expenses that taxpayers must unwillingly and unknowingly meet. Add to all this nonsense the relocation expenses involved, particularly for those replacements that would have lived outside Harare hitherto, not to mention willful damage of property. Needless to say, by-elections cost millions of dollars, consume scarce time that must be spent on production and, of course, keep the country in an election mode and therefore s cycle of anxiety and uncertainty.
Another undesirable effect of the factional fights has been the creation of what I will call the “generals’ pool”. Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner general, Paradzai Zimhondi, the prison services boss, Happyton Bonyongwe, the intelligence director general and Constantine Chiwenga, the defence forces chief, have been reduced to brooding ducks. The first three were reportedly stripped of their authority for alleged links to Mujuru, who now heads a political party.
While hard facts supporting this speculation have been difficult to access, their unusual silence seems to lend support to the claim that they are now ceremonial heads. Ironically, they apparently got this infamous demotion during the Mnangagwa faction’s crusade against Mujuru. Chiwenga looks to have joined the uneasy and cold backyard for his reported strong ties with Mnangagwa. Grace has openly critcised him and publicly insinuated that he directly or indirectly played a part in the alleged attempt to bomb the Mugabes’ Gushungo dairy farm and kill their youngest son, Chatunga.
Authority, influence and pride could be the only losses that the generals have suffered. They keep driving the big engines that guzzle a lot of fuel, they draw fat salaries and allowances and still go on expensive trips. They also enjoy heavy security that costs lots of money and still have the leisure of driving to their remote farms and possibly using security personnel to do work at their homes and farms. Not to mention the myriad socio-economic benefits that go to their families. All this as they sit on the seam of a cold pool, twiddling their fingers as they await the renewal or non-renewal of their contracts.
Zanu PF factionalism has intensified nationwide security related surveillance on faction members, stretching back to the time Mujuru was accused of plotting to unseat Mugabe. This is what the Royal African Society report titled “State Intelligence and the Politics of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Succession” recently published by Oxford University Press tells us. The Military Intelligence (MI) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) were on high alert monitoring Mujuru’s movements, communication and engagements with individuals, embassies and other institutions and also actively influencing decisions and sentiments. You can add to this countless clandestine Law and Order as well as PISI operations. There is no good reason to assume this is no longer happening in the context of the G40-Lacoste fights, war veteran conflicts that are also faction-related, and the recent launch of Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZPF). The surveillance is not surprising considering Zanu PF’s old tradition of converging party and national politics just as kid muddles his pooh with the food.
In the absence of empirical research relating to the surveillance spinoff expenditure, let’s take this hypothetical but likely case. Let’s assume a combined 400 operatives from MI, CIO and police are deployed weekly to do faction-related surveillance, which involves travelling countrywide. If each operative gets $110 a day in travel and subsistence allowances and $30 in fuel per day, it means that a whopping $56,000 is expended everyday to finance the missions. That means $1, 68 million dollars a month! .
The factional fights have also given rise to prosecutions, police investigations, in-the-week rallies and many dark alley meetings involving government officials, civil service employees, security details and cabinet ministers, all who need fuel, food and accommodation who abandon their workstations and neglect production and service delivery. Government employees are now hardly doing their work as they attend to factional concerns and censor themselves from making professional and economy-friendly decisions for fear of being labelled as belonging to this or the other faction and are, worse still, involving themselves in outright treachery and sabotage that ultimately make economic revival a pipedream.
Tawanda Majoni is senior journalist and analyst based in Zimbabwe. He writes in his personal capacity.