BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Moyo on Monday told BBC’s HardTalk programme that Mnangwagwa was handpicked by Mugabe to merely assist the 91-year-old leader fulfil his mandate — not to succeed him.
The statements have been interpreted to mean that Moyo is not backing Mnangwagwa to succeed Mugabe.
Zanu PF insiders yesterday said the political scientist had touched a raw nerve at a time the ruling party is battling a new wave of infighting blamed on Mugabe’s undecided succession issue.
A Zanu PF politburo member speaking on condition of anonymity said Moyo had crossed the line and should be made to account for his statements.
“Is Moyo the spokesperson for the VP? Is he also Zanu PF spokesperson to talk of succession?
“We are also looking at what motivated the interview in the first place because that has torched a storm in the party,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Moyo was believed to be aligned to a faction that pushed for Vice-President Mujuru’s ouster ahead of the Zanu PF congress last December.
The faction had the blessings of First Lady Grace Mugabe, who led the onslaught against Mujuru through nationwide rallies where Moyo’s ministry was a vital cog.
However, the fluid battle to succeed the long-time ruler appears to have taken a new turn in the post-Mujuru era with a faction backing Mnangwagwa and another one believed to be made up of the so-called Young Turks.
The politburo member — believed to be in Mnangagwa’s camp — said Moyo, who was once suspended from the ruling party for allegedly plotting against Mujuru’s ascendancy, was now a marked man in Zanu PF.
“He (Moyo) seemed too emotional while responding to the question on Mnangagwa (during the interview),” the source said.
“What are his interests? Does he want to compete against Mnangagwa? He must be clear.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo refused to comment on the interview and referred questions to Moyo. Moyo was not available for comment yesterday. But former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Moyo’s statements showed that the battle to succeed Mugabe was turning vicious.
“The utterances show infighting and contradictions within that party. It shows that there is no clear plan of succession,” said Gumbo, who calls himself spokesperson of the “genuine and original” Zanu PF.
“All we want is a guaranteed smooth transition and if what is happening in Zanu PF is anything to go by, we are heading for something else, which I and others were kicked out for. We wanted to ensure stability and continuity in the party. Vultures and people with no history thought otherwise.”
Gumbo’s assertion was backed by political analysts who said Mugabe’s succession was threatening to end badly.
“It will be a nasty period and that is why those who are strategically poised to succeed him are busy strategising for nomination when the time comes,” said University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure. “This is way the struggles are vicious both in the public and private arena.”
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said Zanu PF was at war and Moyo was just parading the internal situation where infighting is incurable.
“Zanu PF as a party is now at war with each other and that is what Professor Moyo was just telling the world,” he said.
“It shows that someone outside Mnangagwa is eyeing Mugabe’s post, but in politics it’s normal.
“It’s going to be a game of who has the muscle and best strategy.”
Mandaza said Moyo’s statements that Mnangwagwa was not guaranteed of succeeding Mugabe were not new, but could be an indication something was brewing.
“It’s significant what he said. He is just repeating what he has said before and if among them someone can say that, it shows something is happening,” he said.
“But I don’t know if it means Mnangagwa will not take over — that is too early to read or analyse.”
Political analyst Alexandra Rusero said Moyo’s statements were a reflection of Mugabe’s thinking that “being a Vice-President is another thing and being a successor is totally different”.
“Moyo is just spelling out what Mugabe might be thinking and making those views public for all to know,” Rusero said.
“It is very simple: What the President is communicating is that you can be a Vice-President and still not be a successor. Look at Mujuru and how she lost it at the 11th hour. So it’s not yet clear on who will take over from the old man. If you don’t take what Moyo said seriously, you are doing yourself a disservice.”
Mugabe has refused to publicly anoint a successor leading to speculation that he wants his wife to take over. The First Lady has since taken a backseat after her stormy entry into politics last year.