22 July 2009: Mugabe Declared "Supreme Leader"
"Oh my God!", Tsvangirai seems to be saying as he watches Mnangagwa being sworn in as Minister of Defence in February this year. Mnangagwa has just announced that Mugabe has been declared "Supreme Leader."
Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Midlands Province Executive of ZANU PF have declared Mugabe "Supreme Leader" of ZANU PF, the current ruling party. The story is carried by SW Radio (link to their site is my right hand sidebar).
There is an explanation for this.
This is Mnagagwa showing Mugabe loyalty. It is designed to tell Mugabe, "Look how loyal I am, I have no plans to unseat you and I recognise you as the ultimate and perpetual leader of ZANU PF. I will only take over when YOU want me to and I will be loyal to you even after you leave office."
It is part of succession politics within ZANU PF, then, but not as read by many.
It is also a message to Mugabe that Mnangagwa, should he take over, will not go after Mugabe as has happened in Zambia, where Chiluba's anointed successor turned on him and put him on trial.
As a "Supreme Leader", Mugabe will virtually have veto power over the new president. In other words, just like the Supreme Leaders of Iran, he will continue to hold power without holding popularly elected office.
He will continue to hold the fate of the new president and, hence, the country, in his hands. This is an attractive proposition for Mugabe, whom many say fears stepping down in case he should be tried for his misdeeds in office.
It would mean that he will be able to remove any president if he so wishes and moreso should that new president make moves to go after him or displease him in any way.
Mnangagwa realises what many in ZANU PF aware of: that you have to show TOTAL and absolute loyalty to Mugabe if you hope to have any chance of being the final choice when the time comes.
Although now virtually guaranteed the post, Mnagagwa is on a mission to entrench his front-runner status and this move is designed to do that. He is especially wary of the deal rumoured within ZANU PF to have been struck between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, a deal many say explains Tsvangirai's recent public support and respect for The Solution.
This resolution to declare Mugabe "Supreme Leader has only been passed by the one province, Mnangagwa's. It has no force or effect on government, especially, and not even within ZANU PF itself in terms of its administrative structure.
Finally, it shows the breathtaking arrogance within ZANU PF, which still believes that, come what may they will win the next election, by hook or by crook.
Especially by crook.