Mnangagwa determined to stay in power

`Mnangagwa will shoot to keep power'

 Daily News

 26 May 2018

 HARARE - Hardly a week after a junior minister triggered outrage by suggesting that the military will not sanction any transfer of power from Zanu PF, a confidante of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has rubbed salt into the wound by claiming that the incumbent would even "shoot" to retain power.

A provincial weekly publication, the Mirror, quoted the minister of State for Masvingo, Josiah Hungwe, reminding his audience that if Mnangagwa could shot his way into power in November last year, then there was nothing to stop him from doing the same to keep himself in office.

"Do you know that I am the leader of the new dispensation here in Masvingo and I say ichi chinhu chedu chatakaita (this is our thing; it's our creation)" he was quoted saying.

"Our leader Mnangagwa is a soldier and you know that a soldier is always equipped with a gun to do whatever he wants. If you want to run away from him he can shoot you so you should always know that," Hungwe said, while commissioning a clinic in Chiredzi on Tuesday.

His remarks have added fuel to the fire, as they resonate with sentiments by deputy Finance minister Terrence Mukupe who sensationally claimed that the uniformed forces will not allow MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, to rule if he wins this year's election.

Mukupe, who is Zanu PF parliamentary candidate for Harare East constituency, made the remarks at a campaign rally in the constituency on Monday.

On Wednesday, government distanced itself from Mukupe, with Simon Khaya Moyo, the acting Information minister, saying his utterances did not represent the position of the ruling Zanu PF, government or the military.

"Suggesting that our well-respected security organs will act in a partisan manner in relation to the country's politics, apart from being unauthorised, are unlawful, reckless, improper, uncalled for and thus totally condemnable," Moyo said.

"They imperil national peace and stability, and amount to a frontal challenge to the tenets and practices of democracy."

Since his ascend to the top office after the military forced former president Robert Mugabe to resign last November, Mnangagwa has been consistent, telling all those who care to listen that his administration will conduct free and fair elections.

He has even said that in the event that he loses the presidential race, he would gladly hand over power to the winner.

But despite his assurances and Wednesday's rebuttal, the comments by Mukupe and Hungwe echo similar warnings that the military often made under Mugabe.

During Mugabe's nearly four decades in power, the army frequently said it would not allow the opposition to take power and military commanders openly supported Zanu PF.

Zimbabwe will hold general elections in July, the first since the army forced 94-year-old Mugabe to resign and thrust Mnangagwa into power last November.

Constantino Chiwenga, the general who led the de facto coup, has since become vice president.

Political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said the two ministers were stating the obvious that the military cannot remove Mugabe to allow Chamisa or any opposition to take over so early.

"What they are saying is reflective of the inner thinking in Zanu PF, unfortunately these two guys lack political message discipline and are exposing their party strategy.

"Ngwena and Chiwenga could not allow (Morgan) Tsvangirai to take over when he won against Mugabe in 2008, what more this time when a loss means them directly losing not Mugabe," said Saungweme.

He described the statements as political banter, couched in the truth.

"They are not Chamisa's vacuous and shallow hyperbole but these mean exactly what is said - the croc will not let power off its jaws less than a year after snatching the power from the nonagenarian," he said.

Media and social analyst, Rashweat Mukundu, agreed, saying Hungwe and Mukupe were merely echoing the mainstream political thinking in Zanu PF.

Said Mukundu: "One can say that Mnangagwa is surrounded by worshippers who believe in him reining forever, this despite his public statements that this election will be free and fair: The president must therefore take stern action if ever his free and fair mantra is to be believed".

Vivid Gwede, a political analyst, said the statements were deliberate and meant to intimidate the electorate by reminding people that Zanu PF was not ready for democracy.

"Ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections, such statements have been plenty and for Hungwe it is a second one. We heard such unfortunate statements from the likes of (Engelbert) Rugeje. The intended targets who are ordinary people have already received the message that they are not safe," said Gwede.

He said Mnangagwa should discipline his lieutenants rather than merely saying it was not his policy to circumvent democratic processes.

"The other thing we can conclude is that Zanu PF is panicking and sensing a potential defeat at the hands of the MDC Alliance hence the threats," said Gwede, adding that election observers and the international community should take these sentiments seriously.

"The possibility of electoral conflict is real in Zimbabwe. There could be a method in the madness of the contradictory statements about the elections coming from Zanu PF. They are probably playing a good cop and bad cop game. They are approaching the elections with a carrot in one hand and a stick in another".

Crisis Coalition spokesperson, Tabani Moyo, said this was not surprising at all, saying history was repeating itself.

"Our history is packed with such fatal pronouncements. Actually, they have been precursory to electoral atrocities. It was the same ahead of the early 1980s Gukurahundi, it happened after the referendum of 2000 and successive elections in 2002, 2005, 2008 which saw thousands of opposition supporters and citizens losing lives, maimed, raped and assaulted," said Moyo.

"It is not an accident that these pronouncements are coming out now, but a pointer to what we have always told the whole world that there are no democratic outcomes in processes that are managed by military establishments," he added.

The Crisis Coalition boss said the international community, Britain in particular, could be left with egg on its face for going all the way in trying to sanitise the soft coup of November 15, through dragging the nation to a sham election.

"The cat is now out of the bag for all to see, that the tiger rarely changes its very visible spots," he opined.

"In essence, this is a declaration of intent, made in broad day light. It calls for a collective approach in mitigating the vices of terror which the ruling party is promising to unleash if the outcome is disappointing on its part.

"But remember Britain pretended not to know that in the early 1980s when Zanu PF was committing atrocities in the southern parts of Zimbabwe. It actually accorded Mugabe red carpet. The very same way in which history is repeating itself!"