Vice-President Joice Mujuru may be facing serious challenges but is certainly not down and out in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe, analysts have said.
By VENERANDA LANGA
When First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entry into politics was announced this month, there was a general belief that she had stolen all the thunder from Mujuru, the country’s most powerful female politician.
However, political analysts say she was merely “the personality of the moment,” but would not have much effect on Mujuru’s political future.
Other political analysts feel that, the late Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru’s influence was actually proving to be much stronger from beyond the grave than when he was alive in light of the challenges facing the VP.
They said this could have been the reason why her faction swept all the key posts in the just-ended Zanu PF Youth League congress.
Political analyst Alois Masepe said Grace’s position as Women League Secretary would not necessarily interfere with Mujuru’s position as Vice-President.
In any case, Masepe said, the constitution placed Mujuru as second in command and the most likely candidate to take over in the event Mugabe is incapacitated.
“Grace’s entry has nothing to do with democracy or pure politics — it has a lot to do with security for herself and her family and that is where it ends,” he said.
“She did not manoeuvre herself into that position — it is the system that propelled her. She is unfortunately being sponsored by a faction and literally it means she has joined factional politics in Zanu PF.”
Masepe said people should bear in mind that Mujuru herself was propelled into power by Mugabe after the Tsholotsho declaration when officials loyal to Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction allegedly plotted to usurp power from Mugabe.
“Therefore, whether Mujuru’s political fortunes will wane or not will depend on which system Mugabe is currently in favour of. If the Mujuru system is popular with the status quo, it will be decimated by the anti-status quo system which is now coming with Amai Grace. It is the two systems that are going to fight.”
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said Grace’s entry into Zanu PF politics — inasmuch as it was a ploy to calm factionalism in the party — was more of an indicator of the ascendancy of women into influential decision-making positions in the ruling party.
“Of course Amai Mugabe’s entry into Zanu PF politics might be a deliberate move to create uncertainty and calm the factional squabbles in the party,” Rusero said.
“But I do not think that Grace is a threat to Amai Mujuru because her entry is an indicator of how politics can spring surprises, and probably her [Grace’s] coming is only a paradigm shift where women are calling the shots and are realising that they can be the major game-changers in Zanu PF politics.”
He said Grace’s rise in Zanu PF did not necessarily mean that Mujuru’s popularity was waning.
“She is simply the woman who is getting attention for now and is being talked about more than Mujuru. She is just a newcomer and women should celebrate that there is a newcomer, but one cannot compare Grace and Mujuru in terms of popularity,” Rusero said.
He said the influence of the late general Mujuru on his wife was stronger now in his death than ever.
“Minus her late husband, Amai Mujuru is stronger than ever. It means that General Mujuru did a good job and is still influential from the grave, and despite that, he is no longer there, the Amai Mujuru faction is sustainable and they are clear that they want power as compared to the Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction whose plan is not clear,” said Rusero.
Another political analyst, Lenox Mhlanga said he also did not see Mujuru’s political fortunes dying because of the First Lady’s entry into politics.
“Come congress, Mujuru will come out stronger in spite of Grace Mugabe’s endorsement by all women’s provincial chairpersons. There seems to be clear distinction between the women’s league secretary position and that of Vice-President,” he said.
“Precedent and seniority favours Mujuru on both counts in addition to the gender factor. Mujuru has clearly emerged from her husband’s shadow and cannot be easily wished away in the convoluted dynamics at play.”