Battle to succeed Msika threatens coalition government

mugabe_bobHARARE - Zanu PF woes deepened last night as Robert Mugabe battled to contain his feuding party leadership jostling to succeed Vice President Joseph Msika amid reports that he died on Saturday, not Tuesday. (Pictured: Robert Mugabe is now battling to hold the centre as warring parties in the Zanu PF tension-gripped leadership become openly hostile to each other, o

Tensions are high in Zanu PF as rumors swept the Zimbabwean capital of Harare that First Vice President Joseph Msipa, 85, died following a stroke earlier this year, and senior government officials struggled to confirm his death, leaving it to the rumour mills to feed the information starved nation.

A source within the the government spy agency revealed to our reporter that Vice President Joseph Msika died on Saturday night, not Tuesday as widely reported.

Robert Mugabe is now battling to hold the centre as warring parties in the Zanu PF tension-gripped leadership become openly hostile to each other, our sources revealed last night.

It is believed that the Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction is already pushing for Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Mines as the next Vice President in line with the ZAPU-ZANU PF Unity Accord and last night extra security was beefed around him as threats were openly made against his life.

Foisting Obert Mpofu has irked the party Chairman John Nkomo, the likely candidate and a politburo meeting called on Sunday to discuss funeral arrangements failed to bring the warring parties together with some members walking out.

A state broadcasting source said official notification of the death had been received – but with instructions to embargo or withhold the news until certain conditions were met.

Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said Msika was “in a bad state but he is not dead. Kasukuwere is now Robert Mugabe’s favoured runner spying on Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions.

Asked for comment ZANU-PF Deputy Spokesman Ephraim Masawi instead said Harare is known for rumor-mongering and that talk of Msikas death was misinformed though he had not been well for some months.

High-level sources including those in Robert Mugabe’s office confirmed Msika had died.

Government sources said Msika, who had served as vice president since December 1999 after the death of liberation leader Joshua Nkomo, head of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union which was merged with Mr. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union in 1987.

Msika, who suffered a stroke in June and underwent an operation in South Africa, had been in and out of the hospital in recent months, sources said. He was reported to have asked to step down, but acceded to Mr. Mugabe’s request that he stay on to promote stability.

Several Zanu-PF stalwarts including Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa popularly known as Ngwena Crocodile- and Vice-President Joice Mujuru, have been jostling to get the countrys top office after President Mugabes departure.

Mnangagwa has always been touted as a potential successor to Mugabe, described as shrewd and ruthless.

Ahead of the Zanu PF congress in December 2004, Mnangagwa had the backing of six provinces, which all wanted him to become the next First Secretary of Zanu PF and eventually President of the Republic of Zimbabwe if he could win against the MDC.

The botched Tsholotsho saga was masterminded by ex-Information and Publicity Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and the Moyo has remained active as chief strategist for Mnangagwa.

The Joyce Mujuru-led faction wants to assume the leadership of Zanu PF, backed by her husband, General Solomon Mujuru and recently it has been trailing the battle to control party structures.

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