President Robert Mugabe has discarded plans to retire and Zimbabwe will be stuck with him at least for 2015, Zanu PF insiders and analysts have said.
by EVERSON MUSHAVA
The President is in fact said to have already had his presidential diary prepared for the entire 2015 including major events, trips and other obligations.
This comes in the wake of swirling speculation that the veteran leader who turns 91 next month will quit politics and allow newly appointed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over.
Mugabe last month appointed his long time security man, Mnangagwa to deputise him after he threw out former Vice-President Joice Mujuru who had been his deputy for the past 10 years. The move gave rise to speculation that he had chosen Mnangagwa as his heir apparent.
At 91 and after running the country for the past 35 years, most Zimbabweans thought it was time Mugabe passed on the baton to a trusted lieutenant this year.
But Zanu PF and government insiders last week said Mugabe was not showing any signs of relinquishing power even given failing health and advanced age.
“Mugabe’s aides have already prepared his diary for the whole year. Some of the major activities and events he is going to attend are already known and from the look of things, he has quite a busy year,” said the insider.
He said Mugabe, as soon-to-be leader of the African Union, would this year be busy with regional and continental politics as he was desperate to leave a legacy in Africa.
Another insider said Mugabe still wanted to assess Mnangagwa and other potential candidates before making it clear who he really wanted to succeed him.
Political analyst Takura Zha-ngazha yesterday said the thinking that Mugabe would retire this year was a fallacy.
He said Mugabe, who currently chairs Sadc, was also set take chairmanship of African Union later this month and would definitely not relinquish power.
“At the just ended congress, he (Mugabe) did not state his intention to retire. There is no way he is going to relinquish power,” Zhangazha said.
He said Mugabe was likely to go on until his term ended in 2018 or even beyond.
Another analyst Alexander Rusero also said Mugabe was unlikely to step down this year.
“Mugabe will actually amass more power,” Rusero said.
Last year was characterised by twists and turns in Zimbabwe’s political landscape, particularly in Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party.
Succession politics that had rocked Zanu PF for the past decade took an ugly turn in June when Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife, Grace entered politics to take charge of the women’s league.
Speculation then grew that Mugabe would leave office soon, and the appointment of Mnangagwa had suggested that Mugabe would finally leave office to the Justice minister.
But information minister Jonathan Moyo and Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao dismissed the thought saying Mnangagwa’s appointment to the VP post did not mean he was heir to the throne.
“Mugabe will actually consolidate more power although he will at times allow Mnangagwa and the First Lady to be more active,” Zhangazha said.
When Grace entered politics, she did not only become leader of the women’s arm, but turned out to be the apparent kingmaker in the revolutionary party.
With the help of Moyo, environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, former women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwawo, Grace swiftly decimated a faction led by former VP Mujuru.
To date, 16 ministers and deputies have been axed while more are expected to be booted out upon Mugabe’s return from the Far East, where he is holidaying.
During the better part of last year, the First Lady seemed to have been running the country behind the scenes and Mugabe himself seemed to confirm it while addressing last year’s December congress before his “Pasi NeZanu PF” gaffe.
“Mugabe will very likely give Grace more power this year as he gets older,” Rusero said.
He said factional fighting would continue in Zanu PF and 2015 would see the continued purge of Mujuru loyalists.
He said opposition parties were not likely to emerge any stronger as they were disintegrated.
“The MDC is as good as dead,” Rusero said.
Another analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya wrote on his Facebook page. “Whereas Zanu PF appears to be losing the battle of rule by consent (consensual hegemony), the same cannot be said about its coercive hold on the state (coercive hegemony).
“The idea that the fractions in Zanu PF are ever fighting makes it weak but the weaknesses of Zanu PF do not translate into the strengths of the opposition. The opposition could actually be much weaker.
Unless Zanu PF and Mugabe are disabused of their control of the State; it could be fallacious to posit that the regime is disintegrating. What appears less contestable is that there is no longer elite cohesion/elite consensus in the leadership of Zanu PF.”