15/11/2017 16:47 SAST | Updated 17/11/2017 14:04 SAST

Zim May Be Headed For a Mnangagwa Victory In Next Election

"The military could be trying to flip the situation in Zimbabwe back onto the constitutional path."

Philimon Bulawayo/ Reuters
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and recently fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Looking at the full scenario of the political situation in Zimbabwe right now, there could be some resistance from within Zanu-PF, resulting in military clashes. There is also the possibility that the military might secure power for now.

Further along, the military could force Mugabe to resign, which will allow proper elections to be held for his successor at the Zanu-PF conference next month -- which the army obviously presumes that Mnangagwa will win. He might well be the strongest candidate.

Mugabe could either stay in power until December as Zanu-PF leader, or he may step down early -- if that hasn't happened already today. He could even technically stay in power as the national president until elections next year, whereupon Mnangagwa -- if he wins the Zanu-PF election, as expected –– will take over.

The other scenario involves the military being more cautious. They may have already asked Mugabe to step down right away, or they could expect him to step aside after reappointing Mnangagwa as vice-president. Mnangagwa could then return to Zimbabwe, take over constitutionally as the vice-president, and then run the country until the national elections.

As things stand now, I don't see floods of refugees into neighbouring countries -- we've had floods of refugees for the past 20 years because of the economic situation in the country.

However, if the military sticks to the script which they have presented, it might help to stabilise the country's economy -- in which case, the change might start to attract Zimbabweans back to the country, but only in the long term.

Mnangagwa was the head of the faction trying to restore the economy, and Patrick Chinamasa was the finance minister fired a couple of months ago. Now that Chinamasa's successor, Ignatius Chombo, has been arrested, Chinamasa might be back in the finance ministry, and he will try to reform the economy.

Do the SADC and AU suspend Zimbabwe, or do they give Zimbabwe a reprieve until civilian rule is restored -- which might be quite soon, for all we know...

In the next few days, there may be a halt in economic activity, because people are wary of what might happen. On the radio this morning on 702, there were a lot of people saying they're going back now because at last, they've got rid of Mugabe -- so it might even have a positive effect on the economy.

What could also boost the economy is the fact that the Mnangagwa faction seems more committed to running a functioning economy than the the Grace Mugabe/Jonathan Moyo faction -- the so-called "G40".

Western countries -- or at least Britain -- have been suspected of supporting Mnangagwa in the internal Zanu-PF succession race, so we have to wait to see what the outcome will be.

None of these politicians should be regarded as the world's greatest democrats –– this is very much a resolution of a Zanu-PF internal power struggle. It's got nothing to do with democracy.

We may be headed for a certain Mnangagwa victory in the next election. There is something of a dilemma here in the region, according to Southern African Development Community and African Union rules. If a government comes to power through an unconstitutional change of government –– for example, a military coup -- that government is not recognised by these organisations.

So they face a bit of an issue here: do the SADC and AU suspend Zimbabwe, or do they give Zimbabwe a reprieve until civilian rule is restored -- which might be quite soon, for all we know, if Mnangagwa comes back and Mugabe has been persuaded to resign. If he does so constitutionally, the power would possibly be passed to Mnangagwa.

So in effect, the military could be trying to flip the situation in Zimbabwe back onto the constitutional path.

Peter Fabricius is a Consultant at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

* This article was transcribed from a telephonic interview with HuffPost SA.