Sources said Mugabe and the security chiefs held a teleconference last week, when the veteran leader was in Singapore, where the president was told to tone down on talk of having an election this year.
He was also told to instead direct his energies to appointing a successor in an effort to prevent further fissures within the party and the country.
The sources revealed that the hawks and securocrats told Mugabe that if need be, he had to dictate a successor to his party and they would support that person.
“He was told that he was no longer marketable as a candidate,” an informant revealed.
“Zanu PF’s best chance was in identifying a successor who would be sold to the electorate between now and 2013.”
It was not immediately clear what Mugabe’s response was, but the insider said Zanu PF’s attitude to the poll roadmap indicates that the president agreed that it could be time to appoint a successor.
Questions have been raised about Mugabe’s health and whether he was prepared for the rigours associated with another election, the fourth in nine years.
Mugabe’s health has for decades been a matter of speculation and conjecture and interestingly the teleconference was held while he was in Singapore, where he has previously sought treatment and at a time when the veteran leader had gone to collect his stricken wife, Grace.
Mugabe has been demanding an election this year to end what he describes as an impasse in the inclusive government.
The uneasy coalition government was created by his Zanu PF party and the two MDC formations in 2008 after an inconclusive election.
In recent days Zanu PF has changed its tune on elections, saying the dictates from the poll roadmap made it impossible for a vote to be held this year, with 2013 being the most likely date.
Then, Mugabe would be 89 and too old to embark on an exhaustive electoral campaign.
“It is my own opinion that it is not possible to hold elections this year. We need to start talking about elections next year or 2013, assuming that the (constitution) referendum is completed in September as we have been advised by Copac (Constitutional Parliamentary Committee),” Chinamasa told the state media last week.
This indicates a major climb down from Zanu PF, which had claimed they would have polls whether a new election had been approved or not.
Security chiefs are said to have warned that going for elections was likely to mirror the 2008 polls, where Mugabe lost the popular vote.
He only maintained power by holding a much condemned election re-run, after neither he nor his long time nemesis, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were unable to pass the 50% threshold to be declared outright winner.
The Zanu PF succession debate has been a thorny issue in the last two decades, amid claims of a widening rift between two factions, one led by retired army general Solomon Mujuru, whose wife, Joice is the vice-president and another led by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zanu PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo declined to comment, claiming he was in a meeting.
“No, no, you are disturbing me, I am in a meeting,” he said, before curtly terminating the call.
Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba was unavailable for comment, as his number was unavailable.