2018 is not a difficult election for Mugabe

By Hopewell Chin’ono

Our ultimate stupidity as news consumers in Zimbabwe has been the ability of ZANU PF to keep us glued to a non-event called factionalism.

The assumed assumption has been that these two factions, Lacoste and G40 would somehow kill each other in a fatal embrace of sorts and that things will wake up better for the rest of us, the ordinary citizens.

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I want to deliver the bad news not because I am fatalistic but because I am choosing to be a realist. This article will only look at the factional fighting illusion and how it is feeding a delusion of ZANU PF’s demise resulting in independents and the traditional opposition parties being fooled by side shows and narrow journalism.

The inability of our local media to process the hard truths is rooted in the economic crisis that is prevailing, they haven’t been spared by it either.

So I find our quest to have a quality media in a country where nothing works disproportionate.

The objective reality is that ZANUPF will never kill & destroy itself over factionalism or what Jonathan Moyo has coined ‘successionist politics’ in order to resolve the issue of who the ultimate emperor to succeed Bob will be.

The opposition and the rest of the country must understand one thing clearly, both Lacoste and G40 know that there won’t be any succession to talk of if Robert Mugabe loses the 2018 election.

Contrary to some fanciful and colorful analysis, which has defined the 2018 general election as the most difficult one Bob has ever faced, I will call it the easiest election Bob has ever faced post 2000.


We have independents running for both the Presidency and parliamentary seats and unlike 2008 where Simba Makoni was supposed to be taking votes away from Mugabe through Bhora Musango, the current crop of Independents will be taking votes away from the traditional opposition outfits. From those opposed to Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF.

Most importantly, Mugabe is 93 and if he wins the 2018 election, this will be his last term of office according to both our constitution and the laws of the indomitable rule of nature.

Why then would Mugabe worry about losing an election that is essentially a gift to his successor?

Why would any of the known factions, Lacoste & G40 risk losing the general election through their infighting if such an act would put an end to their ambitions?

It does not make any sense at all to imagine any reasonable person destroying the very basis of their power.

We have been subjected to death by analysis and some of this dead analysis has given birth to mythical ideas that one can win a Presidential election as an independent, an idea that was resolved and buried in 2008 after Simba Makoni, Ibbo Mandaza and Nkosana Moyo set out to avoid what Dumiso Dabengwa called “…..a (Fredrick) Chiluba scenario by stopping Morgan Tsvangirai from becoming President.”

The same dead analysis has made some of us believe that there is a prospect of ZANUPF imploding due to the reported factionalism; it is what I would respectfully call conceptual BS!

I will not go into Amilcar Cabral’s theory of class suicide because unlike most analytical political material floating around, I want all of us to have a simple conversation not shackled by or in big words and superfluous theories, instead, I want us to speak to each other because people who vote in Zimbabwe are simple and straightforward and they have an inability to stomach intellectual nonsense written to impress but not to inform or engage.

ZANU PF will not implode because there is NO political grouping that will commit class suicide fighting over power when they will be both left worse off without as implosion signals the end.

They will always resolve their issues at the right and opportune time, in this case before the election, they learnt this from the 2008 disaster.

Emmerson Mnangagwa and Jonathan Moyo are nothing without the state and they both know it, they derive their political power and legitimacy from the state and they have access to the state through ZANU PF.

Why then would they allow the very vehicle that allows them access to the most lucrative institution on the land to implode?

That is why I argue that ZANUPF will not implode and that this election is not difficult at all for Bob despite his advanced age.

The theory of ZANU PF imploding assumes that Lacoste and G40 will listen to the nation’s moral pulse and consciousness and the culture of revolution threatened by the likes of Evan and his This Flag outfit, rather than acting in their own immediate, material and political interests which are guaranteed by the survival of ZANU PF and allowing Bob to ride again be it for the last time, giving them an opportunity to succeed him.

Any implosion will take away that chance of succeeding Robert Mugabe bearing in mind that both factions have nobody at all capable of winning a free and fair national election.

Then there is the all-important discussion of coalition talks to form a United Front of sorts, which will fight ZANU PF at the 2018 General elections.

This coalition idea has been dampened by what the author and trade lawyer Petina Gappah called “…people who I know to be exceptionally bright, and certainly bright enough to know that they cannot possibly win.”

A reference to Nkosana Moyo and his ‘independent candidates’ kindred.

The idea has been thoroughly debunked such that there is no need of me going into it again.

It simply is delusional politics that unfortunately has found takers who are not motivated by outcomes but by utopian principles.


The constitution allows for such principles to be exercised as its being done by independents, but the same constitution also protects your right to be foolish as long as you are not physically harming someone.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t talk of protecting citizens from massive egos and delusions of grandeur and if it did, Mugabe would have ordered Mnangagwa to table an amendment to allow us to be subjected to these huge egos.

Fortunately for him, he doesn’t need to.

We are living in a security state where every 4 miles has a roadblock in the CBD and any legitimate confrontation by the citizens is met by brutal force.

The state security services and the military have taken hold of the political apparatus & where politics fails to resolve issues they become the arbiters.

These are the General Chiwengas who speak, intimidate and remind politicians like Jonathan Moyo to behave.

Chiwenga has been reported to have political ambitions. Currently he is in charge of all the armed forces of Zimbabwe.

He was a ZANLA combatant, the military wing of ZANU during the war for liberation. Therefore his current political affiliations are not in doubt. He is ZANU PF through and through.

His ascension to political power or Vice Presidency can only be done or achieved when Mugabe wins the 2018 general election.

We have long gone past the age of military coups, so that option is out.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is controlled by the state security sector, how will the likes of General Chiwenga allow Mugabe and ZANU PF to lose the general election when their political future hinges on that one last victory for the veteran leader?

Lastly, the social movements popularly known as the Hash-Tags for their use of the Internet, managed to energise the electorate and diasporans in 2016, however this energy has started to disappear with their announcement that their leaders are going into politics.

Their strength was derived from being non-partisan.

The idea that social movement leaders who at times promised to stay apolitical have abandoned that space for public office has made many people that are in my social and professional lives disillusioned with Hash-Tags.

Hash-Tags are being dismissed as charlatans who knew what they wanted, gravy train politics.

Had they stayed true to their original call of mobilizing the vote against the dictatorship, they would have been remembered as the game changers in the year of coalition politics.

People like Fadzayi Mahere, Evan Mawarire and their colleagues spoke to the millions of us and we listened to them because they were non-partisan. By entering into party political races, their social base will shrink because not everyone supports their move, whereas when they spoke to us as activists, their message had resonance across the party divide including ZANU PF.

Unfortunately, they chose to mobilize the vote for their personal ambitions, a vote that won’t be sufficient to make any meaningful dent to the Mugabe hegemony.

That will be their legacy, spoilers.

Without grassroots support, only a social media base, no organizational structures, no institutional memory linked to the masses. They will meet their reality in 2018.

The same reality that awaits Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDCT party if they fail to put together a viable coalition against Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF.

You see, this does not require PhDs to understand, just common sense, but how common is that common sense?

My father once reminded me that running a country was not complicated at all, it only took common sense he said, sighting the Rhodesian Federation Prime Minister Roy Welensky who was a train driver and boxer and yet he ran three countries successfully. This is confirmed by the number of PhDs in Mugabe’s government and the lack of results, all talk without delivery.

We need a lot of common sense and ability to discern the political architecture around us. Do you still think that this is the toughest general election for Mugabe? Do you still think that factionalism will kill ZANUPF? We need new stories.

New stories like how do we have an election without knowing where the voter’s roll is? The opposition doesn’t even know where the voter’s roll is.

We need new stories like how does the opposition penetrate the rural areas that are the main social base that ZANUPF relies upon. We need new stories on how the opposition plans to counter a ZANUPF rural campaign that started in August 2013 with food aid being passed off as a ZANUPF/Mugabe freebie to the rural electorate.

We need new stories on how the opposition will counter violence against its supporters. We need new stories on how the opposition will penetrate the rural areas without access to radio and television. We need to use common sense to figure out where and how the opposition can resolve all these things whilst we are being thoroughly entertained by ZANU PF with its factionalism side shows.

As Petina Gappah recently said, the exceptionally bright have proved that all we need is common sense not fairytales and dead end ideas.

Vision is the ability to see the possible and not just the idealistic.

Hopewell Chin’ono is a multi-award winning Television Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker & New York Times contributor.

He can be reached on hopewell2@post.harvard.edu


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