The death of a top army general in a bizarre fire has changed the dynamics in internal ZANU-PF battles over Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s succession, but analysts say the issue remains unsettled and could lead to some bruising battles ahead.
General Solomon Mujuru, a key figure in Mugabe’s party for nearly four decades, was, according to authorities, burned to ashes when his farmhouse caught fire.
This official version, suggesting the authorities do not suspect foul play although police are still probing the death, has sparked rumors that the general was murdered.
Mujuru, 67, popularly known by his guerrilla name Rex Nhongo, was married to Zimbabwean Vice President Joice Mujuru, and was deputy head of Mugabe’s liberation army ZANLA in the 1970s and the country’s first black army commander.
Many saw him as a strongman able to stand up to Mugabe, 87, who has led Zimbabwe for more than three decades.
Mujuru headed a ZANU-PF faction, which wanted Joice Mujuru to succeed Mugabe as party and state president, jostling against another faction led by Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Recently rumors surfaced that the general was pressing Mugabe to step down and that his ZANU-PF faction also courted the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of rival Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for a possible coalition after general elections likely to be held in the next two years.
Political analysts see the Mujuru faction as the moderate wing of a party whose current political and economic policies are driven by hardliners who helped Mugabe’s fightback to power in a disputed poll in 2008.
“There is no doubt that Mujuru’s death is a major blow to his faction, and could be a game changer in the succession saga,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe.
“There is nobody in his faction with his stature, his political pedigree and his courage to rally support for his wife and to cut political deals,” he said.
Masunungure said an outbreak of political infighting could now be expected because there were other ZANU-PF figures eyeing Mugabe’s position besides Joice Mujuru and Mnangagwa, for years regarded as Mugabe’s prefered successor.
Over the last few months, a number of local media reports dismissed by government officials have suggested that the current army commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, has presidential ambitions.
Lovemore Madhuku, head of the National Constitutional Assembly pressure group said Mugabe is likely to have a big say on his eventual successor and may use Mujuru’s death to take a hard look at problems in his party.
“I think Mugabe is going to have a big say on how this will all end, because although his critics say he is a big liability, he is also a big asset in ZANU-PF because he wields authority and is a renowned strategist,” Madhuku said.
Mnangagwa, a secretive political figure known as “the crocodile,” has worked with Mugabe since the 1960s when he was jailed as a teenager after training as a guerrilla fighter and being captured by Rhodesian forces during a botched operation.
In public, Mnangagwa has denied he has any ambition for the presidency, but many say Mugabe has tended to gravitate toward his longtime personal assistant for his toughness, his temperament and his loyalty.
Analysts say Mugabe has probably maintained the balance of power in ZANU-PF by playing one faction against the other, but his advancing age, the threat posed by Tsvangirai and the MDC and Mujuru’s tragic death could push him to resolve the thorny succession issue.
Although he remains ZANU-PF’s presidential candidate, Mugabe may not cope with the pace of an election campaign, especially if the poll is held in two years’ time, when he is 89 years old.
Mugabe was forced into a coalition government with the MDC two years ago after disputed elections and the two are still haggling over democratic reforms and the timing of fresh polls. Tsvangirai has expressed fears over hardline ZANU-PF elements, but had appeared to warm to Mujuru over the years.
Many say top ZANU-PF officials, including Second Zimbabwean Vice President John Nkomo, State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and ZANU-PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, also see themselves as possible successors to Mugabe.
“The game is definitely not over and we may see some bloody confrontations before we see the winner,” Masunungure said.
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday last week announced it would impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a vast paramilitary organization that is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been linked to human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions follow US travel bans against other Xinjiang officials and the passage of the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which authorizes targeted sanctions against mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to Beijing’s imposition of national security legislation on the territory. The sanctions against the corps would be implemented
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose