HARARE – Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki is said to have held a private meeting with some of the top security chiefs on Tuesday, amid growing concerns in the southern African region over worsening Zanu PF succession wars, the Daily News can report.
Mbeki flew into the country with a group of investors at the invitation of Mugabe on Monday, at least according to the South African embassy, although official sources insisted that the former African National Congress president’s visit was more than just introducing investors.
He is said to have met with the top brass of the security sector although details of their meeting have remained sketchy.
The rare meeting, however, came as Mugabe had last Thursday fiercely and publicly expressed his irritation with the military chiefs for meddling in Zanu PF politics before he warned them to stay out of his party’s business.
Cabinet ministers canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said details of the meeting between Mbeki, his host (Mugabe) and the generals were being kept a closely-guarded secret.
Mbeki enjoys excellent relations with Mugabe and played a crucial role in persuading the 93-year-old to sign the 2008 Global Political Agreement, which led to the formation of a unity government in February 2009 between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.
This was after Zimbabwe had been thrown into a crisis following Mugabe’s decision to stage a one-man election in the 2008 June run-off in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out days before polling, citing massive violence against his supporters.
Mugabe had lost to Tsvangirai in the first round of the poll whose results were withheld for six weeks but survived because the MDC president had failed to get an outright majority.
Attempts to get a comment from Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, were futile.
“What was discussed in the meeting was private but it was quite clear that Cde Mbeki had a few words to share with the generals and the president,” said the official.
Political analysts yesterday told the Daily News that the presence of Mbeki was telling and symbolic.
Constitutional law expert and former Tsvangirai advisor Alex Magaisa said it was unprecedented that a former foreign head of state would engage the generals in a meeting.
“It demonstrates that there is a problem, which has reached crisis proportions. Mbeki has always been a friend of Zanu PF and he probably came in to be a mediator between the squabbling factions,” Magaisa told the Daily News.
“I have warned before that Sadc (the Southern African Development Community) and other stakeholders must not sit idly while Zimbabwe implodes because the succession issue has more potential for devastating implosion than anything else.
“It would be interesting to know whether this was Mbeki’s own initiative or he was sent or indeed who in Zanu PF sent out a word for him. But that Mugabe has allowed him in shows that he has high regard for Mbeki and considers him an ally,” added Magaisa.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, claimed Zanu PF has reached a level where it is failing to resolve its internal problems and now wants a mediator.
“It is clear Mbeki of the ‘African solutions to African problems’ philosophy was certainly brought in to mediate between Zanu PF and itself,” said Saungweme.
Zanu PF has been torn apart by factional wars which analysts say are a result of Mugabe’s failure to anoint a successor.
Mugabe, on his part, has been consistent that he cannot name a successor as doing so would be violating the Zanu PF constitution which empowers the party to do so either at a congress or an extra-ordinary congress.
But last week, his influential wife, Grace, threw the cat among the pigeons when she implored him to name a successor, hardly weeks after he had shot down the same call by War Veterans’ minister Tshinga Dube.
While addressing Zanu PF’s women league national assembly members at the party’s headquarters in Harare last Thursday, Grace said Mugabe’s word on his successor would be final.
“There is no succession without Mugabe and I have told him that you have a role to play even if I know that he has said that the people will decide but his word will be final, mark my word
“I am asking him now in front of you and don’t be afraid, tiudzei bhiza ramuri kuda timhanye naro muone henyu (we will rally behind your anointed horse). We will stand up and support that candidate and those whose names that have been thrown around under the cover of darkness are not the candidates. Listen to me when I speak,” Grace said then.
And Mugabe, speaking at the same meeting belted the military chiefs for meddling in Zanu PF successions wars.
“There are secret manoeuvres going on. The military has no right to be interfering with the political processes. Theirs is to support; they can give their own views within the constitution and according, also, to the principle that politics shall always lead the gun — and not the gun leading politics. That would be a coup,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe made the same statement at the 2015 Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls.
His deputy and long time aide, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is touted as his possible successor, as he enjoys the support of the military.
Recently, reports indicated that Mugabe’s Defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, could also be in the running as a possible dark horse. – Daily News