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Succession race: Young Turks shut out

ZANU PF’S old guard is using the issue of seniority and hierarchy to block ambitious Young Turks from entertaining any hopes of succeeding President Robert Mugabe, political analysts have observed.


This is in spite of the fact that these Young Turks might have fresh ideas to steer the country out of the current economic morass.

Party spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo last week said the issue of succession would be decided by Mugabe, or would be determined by the structure of the party.

“It will be determined by the President and by the situation at that moment,” he said.

Gumbo said after Mugabe, Mujuru was second in command, followed by party national chairman, Simon Khaya-Moyo, and then secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa.

The issue of seniority and party hierarchy has narrowed national debate on succession to two senior Zanu PF officials — Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa for the past two decades.

This has left several Zanu PF officials, whom analysts said had potential to lead the country should Mugabe retire or die in office, in the cold.

These include former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, Information minister Jonathan Moyo, Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Francis Nhema, Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Shakespeare Hamauswa said the hierarchical issue prevented younger party cadres from entertaining hopes of succeeding Mugabe.

“There are a lot of presidential materials among younger officials but the challenge is in terms of their hierarchy,” said Hamauswa.
“They may have presidential qualities, but the old guard would not allow them to rule before them. If they [Young Turks] try, there will be a generational war.”

Mugabe, who turns 90 in two months’ time, has been ruling for the past three decades and is likely to pass the baton to a former liberation war fighter, who obviously cannot be among the younger party officials.

‘Young Turks do not have good leadership qualities’

Analysts say if Mugabe leaves office by whatever means today, people like Mujuru, Mnangagwa, Mutasa and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, would feel it would be their entitlement to land the post by virtue of their liberation credentials.

Hamauswa said Moyo — though an astute thinker and planner — would face stiff resistance from within the party as he is seen as a “Johnny-come-lately”.

It would be best for him to “remain a kingmaker, support certain figures than being at the forefront,” said Hamauswa.
He however, said the appointment of Gono as Zanu PF senator in Manicaland province was bound to raise speculation, that it was in preparation of assuming a higher office.
Gono is a very close friend to the First Family and Mugabe is assured of his protection should the former central banker boss land the first job.

Political analyst, Effie Ncube said he would support Gono, Moyo, Nhema or Mashonaland East Provincial minister, Ray Kaukonde for Mugabe’s job.

“I would put my money on people like Gono, Moyo, Nhema and Kaukonde, these have exhibited maturity and statesmanship,” said Ncube, adding that Gono could be building his political profile within the party’s structure by joining the senate.

He added that the way Gono virtually ran the country during the hyper-inflationary era showed that, given the resources, he could rescue the country from the current economic meltdown.

On Kasukuwere, Ncube said: “He still needs to learn a lot of things. He needs to be mature, less militant and be stable before dreaming of that post.”

But political commentator, Chofamba Sithole believes that Zanu PF would not renege on its hierarchical order in promoting officials for higher office.

“For that reason, the prospect of much junior individuals ascending that greasy pole ahead of their seniors who have a deep sense of entitlement and have waited a long time for their turn at the helm, strikes me as unconvincing,” said Sithole.

UK-based journalist, Mthulisi Mathuthu said there was nobody among the Zanu PF Young Turks that had good leadership qualities.
“That leaves the liberation war remnants. Mugabe’s stewardship since the late 70s has had the effect of inculcating devotion to himself as opposed to political competition amongst party members,” said Mathuthu.

“Even as Mujuru and Emmerson [Mnangagwa] are said to be competing, their competition largely exhibits mutual inclinations towards proving loyalty to Mugabe.”

Another political analyst, Phillip Pasirayi said those within and outside Zanu PF who seek to succeed Mugabe should be guided more by common interests, embrace a spirit of accommodation and drop the misplaced policies that have hurt the country’s economy and politics.

“If anything, what we have learnt from Mugabe’s record is that it is not enough for a president to be charismatic and not have people’s interests at heart,” said Pasirayi.

“There are people who have a wrong and dangerous sense of entitlement to public office, but have nothing to show for their occupation of key positions in government for the past years. There is need for a paradigmatic shift and a reorientation of most people who are occupying or seeking public office in our country.”

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