For a moment it appeared as if the succession issue would be carefully managed to allow President Robert Mugabe to hand-pick a successor, but recent outbursts from senior party officials on the subject point to an ugly fight for succession which threatens to plunge not only the party, but the country, into chaos.
The media is partly to blame for failing to properly investigate and report on the succession issue, and sometimes for acting as marketing strategists for particular individuals with aspirations to succeed Mugabe. For instance, the portrayal of Defence Minister and touted front-runner in the succession race, Emmerson Mnangagwa as a fierce strategist commanding support among the securocrats and Mugabe’s right hand man may be far from the reality on the ground.
It must be remembered that it was only in 2006 when Mnangagwa escaped expulsion from Zanu (PF) by a whisker following the so-called Tstholotsho Declaration where several leaders tried to defy Mugabe’s choice of Joyce Mujuru as vice-president of the party and the country.
Mnangagwa has repeatedly lost dismally in parliamentary elections in Kwekwe, putting in serious doubt his credentials as a national leader. And yet the media portrays him as the ‘great crocodile’ an astute and fearsome political actor set to take over from Mugabe.
In terms of party hierarchy, Mnangagwa is outside the top 10, making claims that he is set to take over at the top hard to believe. In fact, the number five in Zanu (PF) leadership, secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa recently dismissed Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions citing seniority in the party.
He compounded the confusion by tacitly declaring his own presidential ambitions.
The other main contender for Mugabe’s post is the vice president Joyce Mujuru whom many perceive to have been severely weakened following the mysterious death of her husband, General Solomon Mujuru, in a fire last August.
Last week she played down her presidential ambitions by declaring in Mugabe’s presence that, ‘while he lives, she would not clamour for his post.’ It is significant that she said ‘while he lives.’
From the security sector side credible reports indicate that the commander of the defence forces, Constantine Chiwenga has a definite interest in being president of the country after Mugabe as evidenced by his postgraduate studies in politics and international relations and in his close working relations with Zanu (PF) backroom strategist Jonathan Moyo.
Clearly, president Mugabe and Zanu (PF) lack a leadership renewal plan, perhaps largely because Zanu (PF) over-invested in the person of Robert Mugabe as its main asset, and also because Mugabe left the succession issue until too late. Like all assets invested in, the law of diminishing returns will at some point kick in.
2 dangers for Zanu (PF)
1. The party will perish together with its main asset – without Mugabe it will not survive.
2. If succession is not managed now, with Mugabe around, there will be utter chaos.Post published in: News