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Zanu PF Succession Battles Heat Up Amid Mnangagwa’s Bid to Extend Term

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Harare, Zimbabwe — The political landscape within Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu PF, is witnessing heightened tensions as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s controversial efforts to extend his term in office face mounting resistance.

The push to cling to power has sparked internal battles and drawn sharp criticism from both within and outside the party, with exiled former Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere emerging as a vocal opponent.

“This attempt to hijack more years and leadership through the back door has to be resisted and will be resisted,” Kasukuwere declared. “We will not accept that. Everybody across the political divide cannot accept this chaos to continue.”

Kasukuwere’s defiance comes against a backdrop of a deepening crisis within Zanu PF, where succession wars are once again coming to the fore.

Last year, Kasukuwere was barred from challenging Mnangagwa in the presidential elections, a move widely seen as a strategy to prevent a split in the Zanu PF vote. The decision underscored the lengths to which the current leadership is willing to go to maintain its grip on power.

The recent reshuffle of the Zanu PF politburo has further fueled the internal strife. Mnangagwa removed then-commissar Mike Bimha, replacing him with Munyaradzi Machacha, who hails from Mnangagwa’s home province of Midlands.

This move is perceived by many as an attempt to consolidate his power base by surrounding himself with loyalists. Additionally, Patrick Chinamasa and Jacob Mudenda were given new roles as treasurer general and secretary of legal affairs, respectively.

These reshuffles and appointments are seen as strategic maneuvers to fortify Mnangagwa’s position amid growing dissent. However, they have also exacerbated the factionalism within Zanu PF, as various factions vie for influence and power. The history of fierce succession battles within the party is well-documented, with the most notable being the 2017 military coup that ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe.

The internal discord within Zanu PF is not only about power struggles but also reflects broader discontent with Mnangagwa’s leadership. Critics argue that his presidency has failed to deliver on promises of economic reform and political stability. Instead, they contend, the country has continued to grapple with economic hardships and human rights abuses.

Kasukuwere’s resistance to Mnangagwa’s bid to extend his term resonates with a broader segment of the population that is disillusioned with the current state of affairs.

“The nation is tired of the endless power games and the suffering they bring. We need genuine leadership change, not more of the same under a different guise,” Kasukuwere said in a recent statement from his place of exile.

As the battle lines are drawn within Zanu PF, the stakes for Zimbabwe’s future are high. The outcome of these internal conflicts will significantly impact the country’s political trajectory. If Mnangagwa succeeds in his bid to extend his term, it could further entrench the ruling elite’s power, but at the cost of deepening the divisions within the party and the nation.

On the other hand, if the resistance within Zanu PF gains momentum, it could lead to a reconfiguration of the party’s leadership and potentially pave the way for more significant political reforms. However, the path to such changes is fraught with challenges, given the entrenched interests and the history of political repression in Zimbabwe.

In the meantime, the international community watches closely, with some advocating for increased pressure on Mnangagwa’s government to uphold democratic principles and ensure a transparent and fair political process. The unfolding events within Zanu PF will be crucial in determining whether Zimbabwe can move towards a more inclusive and democratic future or continue down a path of political turmoil and economic stagnation.

As the saga continues, one thing remains clear: the fight for leadership within Zanu PF is far from over, and its resolution will have far-reaching implications for Zimbabwe’s political and socio-economic landscape.