Mugabe's headache after 'win'

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe might be basking in the glory of a disputed landslide victory against his long-time arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai but he is reportedly having sleepless nights over how to deal with the contentious issue of succession in his faction-riddled Zanu PF.

The 89-year-old leader who polled 61 percent of the votes ahead of Tsvangirai’s 34 percent in the just-ended election is now faced with the headache of how to deal with the  two main factions — one reportedly led by Vice President Joice Mujuru and the other by Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that not only is Mugabe faced with resolving the succession issue between Mnangagwa and Mujuru, he also has to cater for the younger generation who won tickets to represent the party in Parliament.

Said a highly played insider: “The president is in a fix, he won a heavily disputed poll, amid allegations of rigging and before the dust has settled, the succession issue has come back to haunt him and this time it’s serious because he is 89 years old and might be incapacitated any time.”

“The new Constitution says if the president is incapacitated or dies, the ruling party must elect a president to finish off his term and that alone means that jockeying for the position will be massive and deadly. Mugabe’s dilemma is worsened by the fact that besides Mujuru and Mnangagwa, there are many other forces which want power.

“There are many people who helped him win power from 2008 like the guys from the military who will obviously demand their pound of flesh while the younger generation also wants to be considered. The president’s biggest headache is how to reward someone like Mnangagwa who masterminded Zanu PF’s controversial win in the harmonised elections.

“The other aspect is that Mugabe himself does not trust anyone and would want to finish his term but if he is incapacitated or dies before his term is up, then there will be a bloodbath with vultures fighting fiercely to replace him. It’s going to be dog eat dog in Zanu PF.”

Zanu PF members who have over the past decades been clamouring for leadership renewal allowed Mugabe to represent the party despite his advanced age and socio-economic issues affecting the country under his leadership.

But analysts say Mugabe will not be in a hurry to deal with succession but the matter will continue to be his major headache.

Respected political scientist and chairperson of Harare-based think tank, Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (Sapes Trust) Ibbo Mandaza believes Mugabe wants to die in office.

“They made him win and he will stay there. Those who think he will retire are dreaming, according to the new Constitution he has two terms — good luck Zimbabwe,” Mandaza said. Just before the election, speculation was rife that the Zanu PF strong man would hand over power if he won the July 31 elections.

But on the eve of the election, a foreign journalist asked whether he was going to retire after winning and he said; “Why should I offer myself as a candidate when I know I won’t finish my term?”

In an interview with a regional newspaper the Southern Times in 2011, the octogenarian leader  said he wanted to rule until he was 100 years old.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Shakespeare Hamauswa concurred with Mandaza and said he did not see Mugabe leaving the position for anyone else right now.

“He failed to deal with it on time. Succession is now threatening the party and if he names a successor, the party might become further divided and if he does not deal with the matter, the same results will emerge,” Hamauswa said.

“There was a time when a committee was set up to deal with succession and the late Solomon Mujuru sat in the committee  but he (Mugabe) claimed it was threatening the party and dissolved it.”

Hamauswa said Mugabe’s biggest challenge now was to appoint a second vice president, a position which Zanu PF heavyweights like party chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo and secretary for administration Didymus
Mutasa have been jostling for.

Hamauswa added that the succession issue would  not present Zanu PF with a big challenge as long as Mugabe’s health remains good because he will be keen to finish his five years.

There is also the argument that now that Zanu PF has a comfortable majority, succession should be much easier as Mugabe would become a figure-head while his chosen successor runs the show.

This would be an ideal situation for Mugabe  as it would prevent widespread factionalism within the party.

The ugly head of factionalism in Zanu PF reared itself during and after the primary elections where it was alleged that a faction linked to Mnangagwa used soldiers to prop up its candidates.

In Bikita West where Munyaradzi Kereke and Elias Musakwa were both nominated candidates, it also became  a battle of the factions.

Kereke is allegedly in the Mnangagwa faction while Musakwa is said to be sympathetic to the Mujuru camp.

Meanwhile, a group of young Turks within the party calling themselves Generation 40 is also pushing for inclusion of young blood in the party leadership.

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