In the shadowy realm of politics, assassinations have historically targeted the mighty few rather than the average citizen, akin to feathers on a chicken or scales on a fish. Throughout history, figures like Caesar, Kennedy, Chitepo, Tongogara, and Mujuru have borne the weight of this grim phenomenon. Assassinations, shrouded in a cloak of plausible deniability, often involve circumstances that leave us pondering, such as the death of a general in a mysterious fire or the explosion that claims a prominent Zanu PF figure’s life, like Chitepo, with fingers pointing at Rhodesian intelligence.

Political power, primarily acquired through Zanu PF membership, equates to access to the spoils of corruption rather than genuine authority. It’s not about power per se; otherwise, our nation’s chief executive wouldn’t have a private jet at their beck and call. Regrettably, this is not Zimbabwe’s reality. Within Zanu PF, members scheme and connive to gain power, a commodity in constant demand. Power becomes a means to an end – an enduring and fortified grip on authority. The ultimate goal? A permanent presence at the resource trough, exemplified by Chiwenga’s multi-million-dollar white mansion in Borrowdale, the Deputy Secretary of Zanu PF.

The question isn’t about Mnangagwa’s involvement in the demise of two influential power brokers who helped propel him to power. Instead, we must ponder who stands to gain the most from the deaths of Shiri and Moyo. These decorated generals, competent or not, represent a story for another day. However, determining the individual who benefits the most, Mnangagwa, is not sufficient. To truly grasp the situation, we must scrutinize why he benefits the most.

Intriguingly, Mnangagwa made a pact with the devil, in this case, the military. Mugabe’s exit left a power vacuum and impending chaos as different factions vied to fill the void. The military and the opposition emerged as the leading contenders. If the opposition had outmaneuvered the military, they would have brought accountability and transparency to the forefront, ending the era of human rights violations from gukurahundi to the 2008 violence.

An opposition-led transition would also have curbed the military’s access to strategic resources like diamonds, chrome, and platinum, leading to the loss of their illicit mineral claims through transparent and accountable governance. The military had no interest in this outcome. The opposition would have sent them back to the barracks, curtailing their civic influence and effectively severing their access to resources.

But the military couldn’t seize power directly; this would invite international intervention and sanctions. They would also face incarceration, losing the very power they sought to preserve. This is where Mnangagwa enters the picture, striking a deal to act as a front for the military for one term, allowing them to preempt any opposition-led reforms. He would then make way for Chiwenga.

For Mnangagwa, this meant one term in power, which would grant him access to looting for its duration. Power is not relinquished willingly, even in mature democracies, as exemplified by Trump’s reluctance. Furthermore, the specter of losing wealth loomed over those ousted from power, potentially facing politically motivated persecutions through a captured judiciary.

Enter the pandemic, providing the ideal cover for assassinations aimed at eliminating threats to Mnangagwa’s consolidated power. Blaming Covid-19 for the deaths of Moyo and Shiri offered a convenient veneer.

In conclusion, Moyo and Shiri, given what Mnangagwa stood to gain, were obstacles to his extended rule, weakening the military faction and enabling unrestrained access to resources for looting. Unless the opposition takes power, offering economic inclusion and political cohesion, Zimbabweans will continue to be the ultimate losers in this high-stakes political game.

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