FIVE days after last Saturday’s attempt to assassinate President Emmerson Mnangagwa injured 49 people, two of them later losing their lives, no arrests have been made and, unusually, no reports of people being rounded up for questioning either.
Police have said nothing else after calling a press conference Sunday where they appealed for information and offered a ‘substantial’ reward.
This curious feature of the State’s reaction to this outrage has not escaped the attention of observers, especially for its marked contrast to the approach taken under former president Robert Mugabe.
“If (former president Robert) Mugabe had been in power many would have been arrested and tortured, that was his style,” remarked ex-Zanu PF national spokesman Rugare Gumbo in an interview with the South Africa-based IOL.
Rugare Gumbo and other senior Zanu PF officials were fired from the ruling party for fanning factionalism and supporting then Vice President Joice Mujuru’s bid to succeed former President Mugabe. Their faction was known as ‘Gamatox’.
Mnangagwa has said he suspects the G40 faction he vanquished with aid of the military in Zanu PF’s succession war was behind the attempt on his life.
The group’s key figures – Mugabe and his wife Grace as well as former cabinet ministers Professor Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao – are outside the country; the latter two in forced exile since last November’s military coup.
Even so, there has been no overt movement against the many G40 loyalists still in the country despite Mnangagwa pointing accusatory fingers at the group.
A senior Zanu PF official told NewZimbabwe that the so-called ‘New Dispensation’ was taking a different approach.
“The whole approach is different; we no longer arrest to investigate,” he said.
“In the old days you would pick up a few people based on a hunch. Beat the s**t out of them until one of them gives you a lead. Your follow the lead and do the same etc.”
Gumbo welcomed the departure from Mugabe-era tactics; “I am relieved that ED (Mnangagwa’s initials) after the incident says he plans to handle the matter as a criminal offence.
“So far all is calm, and so far no one has been arrested and we do not yet know what type of explosion it was. ED says we will go on towards elections normally. We all hope this continues.”
University of Zimbabwe political scientist, Professor Eldred Masunugure said last Saturday’s bomb attack showed that Zanu PF’s intra-party rivalries did not end with Mugabe’s ouster last November.
He told IOL that the “bitter internal struggle” was “yet to be completed … there is unfinished business within Zanu PF.
“But we cannot rule out that this was a ‘lone wolf’ in the current administration and that this person is an integral part of the eruptions and struggles still going on within Zanu PF.”