Open Mugabe's succession debate

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe, 91, is soon going to resort to a walking cane for support, tactile sense and mobility needs one of these days.

He worries a lot about where his faction-torn ruling Zanu PF is going, but some of his prescriptions to guide the beleaguered party back to the narrow way post-congress are woefully outdated.

Addressing youth members of his Zanu PF party last weekend, Mugabe reportedly warned that anyone thinking of choosing between his two current vice-presidents — Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko — would be inviting a similar fate to that of his former deputy Joice Mujuru, who was sacked last year, reportedly on the orders of the nonagenarian’s wife, Grace.

“If you are choosing between my two vice-presidents, you are beginning your own Gamatox,” Mugabe is quoted.

“They occupy equal sphere. If you say you want this one to succeed, you are already bringing division within the people and this so soon after our election.

“The people will choose when the time comes, and you will be part of that process, but don’t get divided by that question now.”

This is vintage Mugabe showing his true colours as a sly leader hellbent on keeping power at all costs.

Yet Zanu PF must have a formal process for actively grooming successors for top leadership roles. It’s risky to let succession planning slide.

And the Marxist ruler does not need to wait for a vacancy to start looking.

In fact, Zanu PF’s politburo was supposed start the search for a successor the day the head of State started his fresh mandate in 2013.

Mugabe still wants us to believe the post-congress Zanu PF is a homogenous body that acts very predictably. He continues to hawk the myth of political cohesion within the party.

Mugabe is surreptitiously pursuing his life presidency project, cunningly playing factions against each other and keeping potential successors in abeyance while he continues to entrench himself in power.

Thirty five years after independence Mugabe has morphed into a caricature of the “African Big Man.”

Without a clear succession plan, the transition from the former school teacher to a new head of Zanu PF and possibly the State is guaranteed to be bumpy and possibly bloody.

The truth of the matter is that the old man has no plans to quit and wants to continue enjoying the trappings that with power than engage in battles with his deputies angling to succeed him.

Perhaps it is time to learn from neighbouring countries how they have managed leadership renewal. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique have changed hands many times.

Another absolutely critical factor is the sheer size of Zanu PF even after the Mujuru faction demolition job.

Throw into that mix, ambition, quest for power, money and millions of members, and the idea that the party can be controlled flies out of the window.

In the liberation struggle days when the ruling party was of necessity run like a military outfit, it did not have so many people to manage.

Plus Zanu PF had a common goal, to win the war and usher in black majority rule. It doesn’t now. Power is the only glue that holds it together.

Mugabe’s ban on the succession debate has apparently failed dismally to staunch the hissing about leadership renewal in his faction-torn party.

If Mugabe stopped pretending his party always speaks with one voice, and permanently lifted the ban on the succession debate, it would make it easier for the top leadership to control the extent to which factional battles are fought.

Banning the succession debate will not make the issue go away.

The post-Mugabe factional lobbying under the current system is like a can of pent-up pressure.

Sooner or later, it will explode in ways Mugabe never intended.

It’s best to relieve the pressure long before by opening the leadership debate now.

Comments (1)

how did it end for these people....Hitler,Saddam,Gaddafi,Amin,Mobuto etc..the end wasnt pleasant. Dictatorship is so cunning to such an extent that those that practice dont see any evil but all they see in the people are happy faces. This is because dictatators are usually surrounded by praiseworthy people and bootlickers. Will our clever ageing man look into this history of dictators and study how they end ?

Big Meech Larry Hoover - 3 July 2015

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