Zimbabwe’s opposition is not yet ready to contest Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa for the presidential post that is why there is a concerted campaign to discredit him, Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, widely believed to be President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, says.
In a critique of an op-ed article that appeared in the New York Times last week entitled: To beat Mugabe, Zimbabwe needs a strong opposition (Uniting to oust Mugabe), Manheru says the import of the article is that the opposition would rather lose to Mugabe than to his successor.
“It is a yearning by the opposition, principally the Mujuru camp, to buy and have more dignified time by way of another term for President Mugabe, post 2018. The opposition finds it more palatable, more dignified, to lose to Mugabe.
“What they cannot stand is losing to Mugabe’s successor whom they think is Mnangagwa. Just now, they are not yet ready to contest him. Right now, they do not think he is ripe enough to be contested, to be shaken. They want him longer in government as Vice President in the hope that he will make mistakes that will diminish his appeal.
“The current story on Zisco is meant to project him as a liar, a failure in his own backyard. The spirited questioning in Parliament was meant to expose him as without depth. Unfortunately for them, Mnangagwa has used Parliament to demonstrate the exact opposite.
“But they also want him severely enervated by internal opponents inside ZANU-PF itself, whether real and imagined. This whole drama around the First Lady, and around so-called G-40, was calculated to put Mnangagwa on the spot, to weaken him well ahead of the eventual national electoral contest. He does not have war credentials, claimed the propaganda. He was not part of the Crocodile Group, went the narrative, all of it calculated to de-legitimize him. The opposition does not seek to beat Mugabe’s successor, whomsoever he might be; rather, they want to meet an already beaten successor in a skewed contest.”
Manheru says the argument that Mnangagwa will weaken and secure defeat for ZANU-PF because he does not have grassroots support is being peddled by very senior officials in the party who do not like Mnangagwa.
“The biggest fear which this anti-Mnangagwa fringe within ZANU-PF harbours presently is his pre-2018 anointment. They seek to spoil it because they fear it’s inevitable, fear it might come sooner.
“They have run a campaign of fear, and hence the hysteria. They seek to pre-empt this imaginary succession by peddling the myth that Mnangagwa lacks a broad national support base. Above all, they have sought to ruin it by manufacturing dummies and ghosts to pit against him.”