There are good reasons to doubt his sincerity. He was after all a key player in Mugabe’s manipulated election victories down the years.
He also left opposition leaders and neutral technocrats out of his first cabinet, packing it with loyalists and military officers.
It is possible, even probable, that Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF could win a completely free and fair election.
They will, for one thing, be riding a wave of goodwill for having ousted Mugabe and his unpopular wife Grace. And the opposition is likely to be in some disarray.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti – the original leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change before it splintered over the years – have indeed now plastered over their sharp divisions to form an election coalition, with two smaller parties.
The coalition has chosen Tsvangirai as its sole presidential candidate. But he has cancer and seems unlikely to be fit to run for office, opening up what could be a bitter succession contest.
Even so, Mnangagwa would probably not want to take chances. He will be fighting an election with a ZANU-PF still licking its wounds from the November ‘coup’ which was essentially the climax of an internal party power struggle.
The defeated G40 faction, which included Grace and with exiled spin-doctor Jonathan Moyo as its mouthpiece, is doing its best to undermine Mnangagwa.
It is claiming that he has little support in the three Mashonaland provinces and even less in the Matabeleland provinces, which have not forgotten his prominent role in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacre of Ndebele people.
Matyszak believes, though, that Moyo and company are whistling in the dark, and that the ZANU-PF faithful will fall in behind Mnangagwa just because he’s the new boss.
He recalls how ZANU-PF’s central committee and provincial structures all swore undying fealty to Robert and Grace Mugabe after Mnangagwa was fired last November – and then all switched allegiance within days after Mnangagwa seized power.
He also notes that one of Mnangagwa’s early policy acts was to secure the loyalty of chiefs – by buying them all Isuzu double-cabs – to ensure they delivered the rural vote which constitutes 67–70% at least of the electorate and on which ZANU-PF heavily depends, having lost the cities.
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