Zimbabwe: ‘Mugabe Succession Race Far from Over’

ZANU PF’s fiercely contested provincial elections reached a denouement yesterday with a faction linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru poised to sweep most of the polls.

The elections marred by allegations of vote buying and rigging, have left the party heavily divided as different factions openly fought to position their members for powerful positions ahead of next year’s elective congress.

Analysts said Mujuru’s victory in the provincial polls has given her an unassailable edge in the race to succeed 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe. But others are of the view that it is not automatic that she will take over the party leadership. Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, are the leading contenders in the race to succeed Mugabe. Both deny harbouring any ambitions.

Political scientist, Shakespear Hamauswa said while winning provincial elections was crucial in the succession matrix, it was just but one step among several others. He said there were some important constituencies within Zanu PF, as well as outside the party whose support was indispensable, such as the youth wing and the women’s assembly.

“Without the support of these, winning the succession battle only with provincial chairpersons is not guaranteed,” he said. He said the security sector; especially the army and the intelligence, were also among the kingmakers in Zimbabwean politics.

Hamauswa said a win on the political front without the support of such important constituencies was like building without a foundation.

“In fact, it will be a giant with clay feet,” he said. “Above all, if the hand over takeover is to take place within Mugabe’s lifetime, then the old man remains the master key who can untie all the golden knots standing in the way of his preferred successor. This old man is good at surprises. He can hand-pick someone whom we never thought of.”

The political scientist said Mujuru and Mnangagwa have in the past been assigned to various tasks by Mugabe. He said in so doing, their aptitude, reaction to crises and complex situations and their treatment of issues of national cause have been tested.

“He has the reports in his file and he knows who is a graduate between the two,” he said. “It really seems Mnangagwa had passed some of the tests with flying colours for it is believed he played an important role toward the establishment of the GNU, the end of civil war in Mozambique, among many other achievements.”

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