MUTARE – Respected former Education minister David Coltart has predicted the fall of President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF in the much-awaited 2018 national elections.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Coltart said last year’s brutal purging of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies from the ruling party — which he described as a fatal political error — would forever haunt Mugabe and Zanu PF.
He said instead of dousing the ruling party’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, the purging of Mujuru and other bigwigs had worsened the situation and severely weakened Zanu PF.
Zanu PF is currently divided along two main factions, one said to be led by embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other comprising the party’s ambitious Young Turks who are commonly referred to as the Generation 40 (G40).
Although there have been spirited attempts by Mugabe and party spin-doctors to paper the cracks, First Lady Grace Mugabe told supporters in Harare on Thursday that factionalism was wreaking havoc in the former liberation movement.
“Zanu PF is collapsing because of the purges against the former vice president Joice Mujuru. If what we see happening in the party continues, if this issue about G40 and Amai Mugabe is in fact real, then Zanu PF will be at its weakest by 2018.
“You don’t need to be a political analyst or a rocket scientist to understand that whenever a political party splits, it rarely emerges stronger but emerges much weaker. So, one can easily predict the fall of Zanu PF,” Coltart said.
The former Cabinet minister in the government of national unity, and a senior official in the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, said the ructions in the ruling party would also possibly result in serious violence if not handled carefully.
“The three Zanu PF factions (Mujuru, G40 and Mnangagwa) all have support within the military services and for the first time we face the prospects of physical power being directed and exercised within the party itself.
“Basically, the chances of violence erupting with this situation are high. This is the most volatile situation in the party since the Unity Accord,” Coltart added.
And with Mugabe old and frail, and struggling to end the squabbling among his lieutenants, Coltart said “the nuts and bolts are off” and Zanu PF was now hurtling towards total collapse.
“That Mugabe is physically and mentally weak is no longer an issue to be ignored as he has tumbled on a number of occasions. He has also issued incoherent speeches,” he said.
But Coltart also lashed at the opposition for failing to unite due to their petty fights for power and big egos, a development that had played into Zanu PF’s hands.
“One of the things that is affecting opposition politics is personal issues … and we need to see more of opposition leaders being prepared to subordinate themselves to other leaders.
“It is ridiculous in this country that we have (Joice) Mujuru, (Morgan) Tsvangirai, (Tendai) Biti, (Elton) Mangoma, (Welshman) Ncube and (Simba) Makoni under different political entities.
“If you ask them what policies and programmes they will implement after Mugabe, you will find that they are all the same,” Coltart charged.
Critically, he said, opposition parties should engage in dialogue aimed at choosing a single leader with the mettle to take on whoever would emerge as Zanu PF’s candidate in the 2018 elections.