2018: Mugabe, Zanu PF to go ‘Plan D’ after Norton by-election humiliation

Zanu PF desperately need to win 2018 elections : Are they about to use the Deadly ‘D’ Plan

Charles Mabhena

ZANU PF badly needed the Norton seat, for them it was a war against, Christopher Mutsvangwa, MDC-T as it was against Temba Mliswa, it was a litmus test to the party as it came after President Robert Mugabe had divorced his foot soldiers, the war vets, who in turn put their weight behind Mliswa.

The run up to the election was marred by violence from the ruling party, a clear sign that ZANU PF was prepared to and badly needed the seat. To cement how vital was the seat to ZANU PF the run up saw the ruling party’s second secretary and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa going down to the constituency to help mobilise votes for his party’s candidate Ronald Chindedza.

The VP hinted that the president himself is having sleepless nights over the Norton seat, and that Mugabe ordered that the seat should indeed be won by ZANU PF. This also came after the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and the second VP Pelekezela Mphoko had held campaigns in the constituency trying to garner support for Chindedza.

The sending of his close lieutenants to go in person and campaign for the party candidate, shows how much Mugabe valued the Norton seat more so after he fell-out with the war vets who used to train youth militias, and propagandise the rural folks to vote for him.

Kasukuwere in his acceptance of defeat after the election and through twitter said the message from the electorate was there before them to digest and promised a return to win the constituency in the future, and that his party learnt something from the loss.

It has also come out that the party has attributed the loss to factionalism and corruption, imposition of election candidates, and failure to sell party programmes among other things.

What is now clear is that ZANU PF is now going back to its drawing board to remap a way forward, and them being known for violence after a sign of defeat, bloodshed enhanced cheating, intimidation, should be expected, as what happened before. The party is a specialist and has a proven track record in that area. During the ‘NO’ vote on the referendum in 2000, there was trouble in some rural areas as ZANU PF used it as a barometer that mirrored its defeat. The no vote was viewed as an anti-Mugabe stance, and the ruling party used its tricks to suppress the opposition. Some teachers in the rural areas were victimised as they were viewed as the enlightened lot who had mobilised the rural folks to vote no.

Ugly scenes were also witnessed in 2008, after the harmonised elections had proved to Mugabe how he was losing grip on power as he played second fiddle to Morgan Tsvangirai who garnered 47.9% of votes to his 43.2%.

It acted as a barometer, during the run off elections, ZANU PF unleashed violence on the people for having had voted for Tsvangirai, and the results afterwards led to Mugabe victory.

In its report on the 13 July 2013 Harmonised Election the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) simply put it this way; “In an effort to ensure victory in the run-off election ZANU-PF unleashed a wave of violence nationwide that resulted in the loss of life of some opposition supporters and displaced many more.

Due to the depth and extent of the violence, Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off. Robert Mugabe contested by himself and won in an election that was widely criticised as not reflective of the people’s will by the international community including SADC and African Union (AU).” This resulted in Mugabe having no choice, but to share power with Tsvangirai in the Government of National Unity.

Coming to the Norton seat, although Kasukuwere described it as a minor setback and nothing to write home about, in actual fact the loss is of great significance to his party, even his boss Mugabe knows it. What makes it so is that it was first, a united effort as MDC-T had put its weight behind Mliswa, this is seen by how MDC-T vice president Nelson Chamisa campaigned for the independent Mliswa, second; it came after the war vets had also put weight behind Mliswa and his win reflected their political influence in the country and the changing political dynamics. This is enough to shake Mugabe, and that is why he wanted to win the seat at all cost.

Time for plan D?

It is now back to the drawing board, and for ZANU PF, history is the best teacher and people now know what the party can do if it senses threat to its iron fist rule- this is how I see it.