MODERN DAY JUDAS ISCARIOT IN ZIM POLITICS | Last week, President Robert Mugabe railed against unnamed ruling party officials whom he likened to Judas Iscariot for attempting to betray him in order to seize power.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa while Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and Secretary for Commissariat Saviour Kasukuwere looks on at Women’s league National Assembly meeting in Harare. Picture by Justin Mutenda
As much as Jesus’ disciples wondered back then during their last supper who among them could betray the Son of Man, there is really no prize for guessing who the Zanu PF leader might have been referring to.
Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples who betrayed Him for the love of money.
“There are those who tamper with our currency to trigger inflation. Those people are among us,” Mugabe said while speaking at the funeral of Maria Msika, the widow of former vice president Joseph Msika.
“Like Jesus said, those we eat with are the ones who will sell us out. The Judas Iscariots of our times.”
He went on: “To those who are scheming to effect regime change, they will not succeed.”
To which Cabinet members aligned to one of the factions in his ruling Zanu PF party gave the president a standing ovation.
Without giving evidence, the president has accused some people of manipulating the currency to “trigger inflation and cause panic buying”.
It was the second time in a week that Mugabe has accused party insiders of trying to trigger an uprising against his government by fomenting economic hardships.
On Monday when he got home from New York he declared that “saboteurs” were responsible for last weekend’s panic-buying and shortages.
But who are these Judas Iscariots within his party?
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News believe Mugabe was turning his guns on one of the factions in his ruling party, specifically its perceived leader.
But they also reasoned that the name calling does not solve the factional fights in Zanu PF. Rather, it may trigger witch-hunting which might aggravate the wrangling.
A peace activist, Jestina Mukoko, said the name calling and subsequent witch-hunt could manifest into cases of political violence — a situation that does not bode well with the need to respect citizens’ rights.
“I strongly believe that if there is a bombshell that needs to be dropped, the president should just drop it rather than continue to speak in parables. If, as a party which is guided by a constitution, (there is a) feeling that some people have violated this same constitution why not take the necessary sanctions in terms of the provisions of the constitution?” she asked.
Mukoko believes that if Zanu PF wants to get rid of the Judas Iscariots it should do it now so that they can focus on uniting the party.
“However, the fear is that the enemies of the party keep multiplying and clawing back the unity of the party,” she reasoned.
“When former second secretary of the party (Joice Mujuru) left, most people were made to believe she was the cancer wasting away the fabric of the party but soon after she (had) been dislodged and replaced, the celebrations have been short-lived and Judas Iscariots are out,” added Mukoko.
Last week’s remarks by Mugabe are beginning to sound like a broken record.
Analysts opine that Zanu PF was singing a familiar tune of shifting the blame to his perceived enemies without doing anything to ameliorate the suffering among the majority of Zimbabweans.
There is little doubt, according to Gwede, that judging from recent events at the Zanu PF youth interface meeting being held across the country that Mugabe was targeting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies.
“But the real worry is that the president has this unfortunate habit of not taking responsibility for Zimbabweans’ socio-economic problems, which makes it even harder to solve them,” he said.
“It’s untrue to say that the current economic problems are caused by saboteurs because, as far as citizens are concerned, government policies are the perfect Judas Iscariot”.
Gwede said ordinary Zimbabweans who are the ones crucified on the giant cross of poverty, see no other Judas Iscariots beyond corruption, lavish spending by the authorities, misplaced priorities and lack of feeling for their suffering.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme was more scathing.
He said everyone in Zanu PF was a Judas Iscariot.
Saungweme said given the latest harangues against Mnangagwa and the faction linked to the vice president, there was no prize for guessing who Mugabe was referring to.
Mnangagwa has been under a barrage of criticism for harbouring ambitions to succeed Mugabe, who also declared last week that he was going nowhere.
The vice president has consistently denied these allegations.
Regardless, his perceived allies, among them war veterans’ leaders and other members of the so-called Team Lacoste faction, have been decimated through suspensions and dismissals from Zanu PF.
Saungweme said depending on where the wind is blowing, Mugabe may reshuffle government and maybe demote or sanction some of these suspected Judases.
“The question is: To what end?” he asked.
“Such a move, while being good news to suffering Zimbabweans as it will make Zanu PF implode, will not help us much in terms of addressing real questions of the day – cash crisis, decaying economy and governance emergency!” said Saungweme.
Journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, said Mugabe has chosen a faction by identifying with Generation 40 (G40) and turning his guns on Team Lacoste.
“Speaking about his crown is quite evidently a reference to the struggle to succeed him and the person in pole position to do so until recently was Mnangagwa. Just like with the Mujuru purges, Mugabe likes choreographing his attacks before striking,” said Chin’ono.
Mujuru was sacked in 2014 for plotting to unseat Mugabe using unconstitutional means.
Before and after her dismissal, several of her allies were also suspended or dismissed from the ruling party.
Mujuru is now leading an opposition party called the National People’s Party.
Social commentator, Rejoice Ngwenya could only say: “Mugabe is a blunt instrument. He has said the same about corruption and $15 billion diamond theft….”
Commentator Blessing Vava said: “It is clear that he was referring to Mnangagwa, I am sure he is doing that to scuttle the Lacoste faction , he won’t fire him now, he likes buying time like what he did with Mujuru and her Gamatox lot.”
Rashweat Mukundu, another analyst, said it was clear Mugabe is now leaning towards the G40 faction and his Judas Iscariot speech was directed at Lacoste.
“The president will not act quickly or impulsively but ensure that his uprooting of Lacoste will not result in a major rift that will tear Zanu PF apart,” said Mukundu.
“Mugabe is being methodical and will strike when he is most comfortable that Zanu PF will not sink.”