'Mugabe should name successor'

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe should name his successor and manage the transition while in office to avoid events being controlled by circumstances beyond his control, analysts contend.

First Lady Grace Mugabe recently waded into the Zanu PF succession when she urged her ageing husband to anoint a successor of his choice which will enable all party members to rally behind one candidate. Vice President Phekezela Mphoko and the youth league immediately came out in full support of the call.

Grace, who is widely believed to harbour presidential ambitions, made her comments while addressing the Zanu PF party’s women’s league in Harare where she also said the president has the right to be involved in naming his successor and that his word is final.

While political and social analysts believe it would be wise for Mugabe to name his successor, there are others who still believe the president will not give in to such demands as he has always said this was the responsibility of the Zanu PF congress.

Human rights researcher Dewa Mavhinga said Mugabe’s advanced age and the persistent and escalating bickering within his Zanu PF party over succession will force his hand to name a successor.

“It is likely that the naming of a successor will not change the current position that Mugabe will be the presidential candidate for Zanu PF in 2018. He might name a successor who will not take over immediately, but one who may remain in the wings for a while until Mugabe's eventual departure.

Mavhinga added that factions may have helped Mugabe stay at the helm for much of the 37 years since independence. “But now, for virtually everyone, the focus is on the post-Mugabe era and therefore what Mugabe needs is to name a successor who can protect his legacy, and who can begin to heal divisions and give Zanu PF a chance of survival when Mugabe is gone.”

Political analyst Hopewell Chin’ono believes first lady and Mphoko are mere actors or megaphones. “They didn't think this up. This is vintage Mugabe preparing us for an announcement of his successor. It makes sense for Mugabe to name his successor and manage the transition while in office to avoid events being controlled by circumstances beyond his control.

“If Bob were to die in office, it would leave his family at the mercy of the new leader and his surrogates, a proposition that is too dangerous for Grace considering the amount of enemies that she has made.”

Political commentator Mcdonald Lewanika is of the opinion that the pronouncements from the first lady and Mphoko are tell-tale signs, “which are indicative of what is happening internally within the faction (G40) but also within the president’s household.

“If this is true then the likelihood is that now that the subject has been broached Mugabe is likely to either anoint a successor or institute a process which leads to a favoured successor by the time of the Zanu PF conference in December.”

Lewanika said had the calls been coming from other quarters “we could expect them to be met with the usual rhetoric around there being no vacancy in the statehouse, not least from the first lady herself, but now that this successor talk is coming from her — it is a telling sign.”

Social commentator Vivid Gwede believes Mugabe has been consistent on the fact that he will not name a successor and that it is not proper to do so.

“However, it is not clear if these growing sentiments will sway him. He knows it is not automatic that the successor will be accepted and I think that worries him.

“There is some truth to the fact that if he leaves his party faces the risk of further divisions. Let me add that as Zimbabweans we must refuse this idea of successors as appointees rather than elects.

“The correct thing is that he should oversee free and fair elections, either in the country or in his party, and the likelihood that a successor will emerge is high,” said Gwede.

He added that the Zanu PF situation is not unique because it mirrors the Communist Party of China’s situation towards the end of Mao’s reign. “Mao’s preferred successor Hua Guofen was rejected, while the one favoured by the military class prevailed. The same may just happen in Zanu PF.”

Mining activist Farai Maguwu said Mugabe has never thought of seeing another leader in Zimbabwe during his lifetime.

“He has remarkably created an impression that no one else can better govern than him. If pressure mounts on him to name a successor he will say the people will decide and when the people try to choose another leader he will say the pen can't defeat the gun.

“This patter will continue till he drops dead. If possible he would want the Zanu PF politburo to discuss succession immediately after returning from the Heroes Acre,” said Maguwu.

Political activist Tabani Moyo said the factionalism of Zanu PF boils always around August as build up to congress, but rarely do you see seismic change except change as defined by Mugabe.

“And in this case, he is yet to come in the open choosing a successor, but what is clear is that he does not want Mnangagwa near the throne and this congress is pointing to the fact that Mnangagwa will be shaken big time!”

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