Mugabe’s night of the long knives

HARARE – The Cabinet reshuffle has severely damaged the succession prospects of the so-called Team Lacoste led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but side-lining the VP is going to prove more difficult and potentially more confrontational and violent than was the case with Joice Mujuru, a respected think tank has said.

This comes after President Robert Mugabe removed or redeployed every single minister in his Cabinet believed to be an ally of Mnangagwa and replaced them with trusted loyalists.

NKC African Economics pointed out that while the developments strengthened the faction known as Generation 40 (G-40) and its patron Grace Mugabe, that was a collateral issue as the key promotions were Mugabe loyalists first and foremost who tended to share his belief that succession talk was premature.

“A close look at the replacement ministers does not automatically suggest support for the so-called G40 and its patron Ms Mugabe — the replacement in the key ministries are Mugabe’s loyalists first and not all G40 groupies,” NKC analyst Gary van Staden said yesterday.

“Mugabe has two key beliefs — that he will contest next year’s elections as Zanu PF presidential candidate and that, consequently, succession talk from any quarter is premature and a little insulting.

“Finally, the Cabinet reshuffle was clearly all about loyalty, factions and putting Mugabe first — it had nothing to do with competence, improving the economy and the financial situation or suggesting Zimbabwe could pull out of its terminal dive. The inevitable consequence of that is that it will not.”

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