Mugabe's political instincts did not wane until the years before his death
Over the past few weeks, a pressure group linked to Zanu PF has been seen making moves to back Saviour Kasukuwere, who is a former local government minister and member of the beleaguered ruling party faction Generation 40 (G40), to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the 2023 general polls. The Zanu PF also accuses the G40 of being behind the high court challenge on Mnangagwa’s legitimacy as the ruling party's leader. Could this be the rise of the G40 from the cemetery?
The G40, a group of young politicians from Zanu PF, was led by Jonathan Moyo (a former higher education minister and Zanu PF politburo member), Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao (Robert Mugabe’s nephew).
It was fronted by Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to fight against the rise of then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa – who led the factional group Lacoste – to the presidency.
After they outsmarted Lacoste by having Mnangagwa sacked from the vice presidency by his mentor and long-time ruler, Mugabe, in early November 2017, the G40 was ousted through a military coup several days later.
During the coup, Ignatius Chombo (then Zanu PF secretary for administration and finance minister) and Kudzanai Chipanga (youth secretary) were arrested by the military.
Kasukuwere, Zhuwao and Walter Mzembi (a long-term serving tourism minister at the time) all fled to the neighbhouring South Africa where they have been stuck since, while Moyo is in Kenya.
The G40 cabal, who became Mnangagwa and Zanu PF critics immediately after the coup, supported MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa in the 2018 harmonised elections, hoping that the charismatic youthful leader would unseat their rival.
Ambitions by the G40 to unseat Mnangagwa
Tyson Wabantu, a social movement, is pushing for the election of Kasukuwere – popularly known as Tyson – to replace Mnangagwa as the country’s leader in the 2023 presidential elections.
“What the people are saying is what is happening. I am coming back, Zimbabwe is my country,” Kasukuwere tells The Africa Report without divulging further information about the G40’s plans for the 2023 general elections.
However, Vivid Gwede, a political analyst says even though the G40 still has support within and outside the ruling party, it is not easy for them to retain power in a country sliding into autocracy post-coup.
“The G40 elements are still present within Zanu PF, but they will have difficulties resurrecting in a post-coup scenario. It is unlikely that Zanu PF will have internally democratic [contests] for power. We have seen internal elections in Zanu PF being postponed indefinitely as well as by-elections for council and Parliament,” he says. “Thus the power retention strategies of the post-coup arrangement are not based on popular support, but manipulation of institutions and democratic processes.”
Admire Mare, a senior lecturer in the department of media at Namibia University of Science and Technology, believes it is still too early to say whether G40 is going to return and face Lacoste at the polls.
[…] the idea that it is ‘resurrecting’ assumes it was dead, which I doubt… Maybe someone can say it has been dormant, given the change of power dynamics in the party…
“G40 was not simply a motley of individuals, but also a set of ideas and movement, which is likely to transcend individuals like Kasukuwere, Moyo and Zhuwao. It still exists within the current reconfigured Zanu PF post the coup,” he says. “It manifests itself in different […] ways depending on the situation at hand.”
Mare says there are still many people within and outside the ruling party who buy into the idea that the youth should take over Zanu PF’s top leadership positions.
“[…] the idea that it is ‘resurrecting’ assumes it was dead, which I doubt… Maybe someone can say it has been dormant, given the change of power dynamics in the party. [There] are still many people who believe it is time for young people to take over Zanu PF and lead towards a post-liberation ethos and a modernised outlook,” he says.
Can Zimbabweans put their hopes in G40 elements?
Just like the Mnangagwa-led administration, the G40 members who were ministers during the Mugabe era – before the November 2017 coup – were involved in corruption scandals.
Moyo is facing charges of fraud, criminal abuse of office and money laundering. He is wanted by the state, which is accusing him of misappropriating $244,575 – during his tenure as higher education minister – from a manpower development fund that assists students.
Chombo is also facing fraud and criminal abuse of office charges, and is implicated as a key figure in the illegal sale of state land during his tenure as local government minister from 2000 to 2015, in Justice Tendai Uchena’s land commission report.
[…] they may waste time engaging in shenanigans of one way or the other to sow disunity in the party, abusing names of senior leaders of the party, but no one takes cognizance of their nonsense.
Kasukuwere, whose nickname comes from the American former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, is facing criminal abuse of office charges linked to when he was local government minister and youth minister.
Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst, says the G40 is made up of hard-core Zanu PF elements who also believe in the primitive accumulation of wealth and sense of entitlement as the Lacoste faction, which is in power.
“The two just differ on who should eat and lead among them. While G40 fled the country, they still harbour ambitions of resurgence. They do not mean well for Zimbabwe just like their adversaries in power,” he says.
The G40 threatens instability within Zanu PF
The ruling party has accused Kasukuwere of sponsoring the Zanu PF youth league member, Sybeth Musengezi, who filed papers at the high court in October this year, seeking to have the November 2017 Zanu PF central committee meeting that confirmed Mnangagwa as the acting president declared null and void.
Even though Musengezi insists he is acting alone, the court challenge has caused instability within the ruling party.
Mare says based on internal ructions within Zanu PF, it is not far-fetched to conclude that all is not well. “In fact, […] factionalism threatens the preparation of the next congress and national elections.”
Tafadzwa Mugwadi, a Zanu PF director of information, tells The Africa Report that the G40 has fallen and will never rise again. “Yes, they may waste time engaging in shenanigans of one way or the other to sow disunity in the party, abusing names of senior leaders of the party, but no one takes cognizance of their nonsense.”
“They are ‘small boys’ [who cannot] shake the walls of Zanu PF unity from the president to the ordinary membership,” he says.