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Mujuru leads Mugabe succession race


Below are assessments by political analysts on the likely successors to President Robert Mugabe.

Joice Mujuru
She is by far the strongest candidate on several grounds. Chief among these is that she is hierarchically number two in the party and has solid wartime credentials in her own right and is, therefore, no one’s appendage.

She is also very social and has firm religious roots (the Salvation Army) and this buttresses her message about peace, tolerance and motherhood.

In the presidium, it’s only Mugabe and her that are elected in national elections; the other two are appointees, a very big handicap.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests she has a large popular base and following. In fact, in MDC-T circles, the prayer is that she does not replace Mugabe as the presidential candidate because she would give Morgan Tsvangirai a real scare and a run for his money.

However, recent media reports suggest she is no longer in close books with the securocratic elite who presumably find her as “too soft” and prefer a “harder” (and male) candidate like Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In other words, her moderate profile which makes her popular with the masses is also her Waterloo in respect of some of the security chiefs. Her other weakness is that, though she is a Korekore, this ethnic group is widely viewed as part of the larger Zezuru group and there is a strong sentiment inside and outside Zanu PF that it’s now the turn of other ethnic groups to “eat”.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

He is made of sterner stuff and is perennially portrayed as a “hardliner” and popular with the generals. However, his popularity does not seem to extend much beyond KGVI (army headquarters).

The 2000 and 2005 elections are very illustrative of this and he was forced to migrate from Kwekwe for him to win in the 2000 parliamentary elections.

Mnangagwa’s popularity is also quite tenuous at grassroots levels in his party, especially in the Gukurahundi belt of Matabeleland and Midlands where he is regarded (rightly or wrongly) as the architect of that“moment of madness”.

His strength is that he comes from the largest ethnic group in the country, one that, like the Manyikas, feels that it’s now their turn to reside at State House.

Her liberation war credentials are impeccable, and being the widow of a liberation icon in the late General Solomon Mujuru adds to her appeal among those Zanu PF faithful for whom adherence to the signposts of the liberation struggle is sacrosanct.

Mujuru is not an “ideas” person and it isn’t clear what vision of Zimbabwe her presidency will seek to project. As such, she will need to supply this deficiency by surrounding herself with a powerful technocratic team. Her late husband’s business dealings were as vast as they were opaque and from that perspective she has a challenge to prove that her presidency will be one of transparency and complete probity.


His biggest asset is his determination to become president, and over the years he has demonstrated the patience and steely endurance of a long distance runner.

He’s also a shrewd tactician as illustrated by the two occasions he came close to advancing his ambitions — the now infamous Tsholotsho Declaration of 2005 and the more recent subsequently futile takeover of Zanu PF structures through the election of his supporters into (now disbanded) district co-ordinating committees (DCCs).

Mnangagwa’s stint as Speaker of Parliament showed that he has the capacity to steer cross-party consensus, a skill which would come in handy in the country’s new terrain of coalition politics should he emerge as president.

His sentiments on Britain-Zimbabwe relations expressed in an interview with Britain’s Telegraph newspaper this year suggest that he’s ready to draw a line under the longstanding dispute, cut deals and move Zimbabwe back on full diplomatic terms with Western states.

Although he once described himself as being “as soft as wool”, Mnangagwa has an abiding reputation as a feared, hard man.

And since the proposed human rights commission is not designed to probe atrocities committed before the formation of the inclusive government, he will struggle to clear his name from allegations that he was involved in the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s as well as the gruesome abuses perpetrated during the 2008 presidential election run-off.

Mnangagwa has low electoral appeal — he lost dismally in his own Kwekwe backyard before beating an embarrassing retreat to a newly-formed rural constituency in order to find his way back into Parliament as an elected MP. In 1999, he also lost the Zanu PF chairmanship to John Nkomo, and the prognosis is that he has no chance of winning a national contest against Tsvangirai.

Sydney Sekeramayi

He is a famously quiet man who does not seem to offend or impress many in equal measure. Sekeramayi has been touted as a potential successor since the 1990s, and largely as a compromise candidate.
One could describe him as Zanu PF’s own Kgalema Motlanthe. His main challenge is to distinguish himself as a capable leader possessed with a distinct vision for the future.

Simon Khaya Moyo

A suave diplomat and amiable person, Khaya Moyo is fourth in the Zanu PF perking order, ahead of Mnangagwa. Khaya Moyo was personal assistant to the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo as Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s during the liberation struggle.

However, Moyo has not exhibited a similar appetite for the top job as his erstwhile opposite number has shown. He has managed fairly well as Zanu PF chairman, but the idea of a former Zapu head of the post-Unity Accord Zanu PF remains an untested — and highly unlikely — proposition.

Constantine Chiwenga
The military has demonstrated its appetite for direct political power and Zanu PF politicians have done much to egg them on. Should this become a key option for Zanu PF, then Chiwenga is the military’s man. There’s nothing to be said of this candidate except to pray that the military scenario does not come to pass.


Most significantly for Mujuru is the fact that her late husband despite allegedly falling out of favour with Mugabe, Solomon Mujuru played a critical role in Mugabe’s ascendancy to power when some of his guerilla lieutenants attempted to revolt against Mugabe in the late 1970s in Mozambique.

Mujuru stood by Mugabe and mobilised the fighters to lend him support.

She has for a long time been a faithful supporter of the president.
Her biggest weakness is the lack of a political consensus and base within Zanu PF politics.

The issue of ethnicity could also be her downfall since the incumbent leader comes from her region. There could be a national conspiracy in Zanu PF to stop the Zezuru dominance of the party.

African politics is also very patriarchal and male chauvinistic. The gender dimension could also work against her.

He is arguably one of Mugabe’s trusted party cadres dating back to the liberation struggle.

Mnangagwa is credited with building the Central Intelligence Organisation that is at the centre of Mugabe’s power retention schemes. He has critical links that he can use for the presidential bid.

So far he has done that when he managed to convince six out of 10 Zanu PF provinces to back his candidature in the 2005 fiasco which led to the firing of six provincial chairpersons when Mugabe was convinced by Mnangagwa’s enemies that, in fact, it was him who was under threat.

However, to show his faith in the man, Mugabe did not fire Mnangagwa and in 2008 he organised the security machinery to deliver a controversial victory for Mugabe after he initially lost the presidency.

Only last year Zanu PF DCCs were dissolved after it was realised they were under Mnangagwa’s control. His greatest advantage is the power to organise across the party, his links within the security sector as Defence minister and former intelligence supremo.

He also has huge resources to mobilise his campaigns. His greatest weakness is the perceived belief that he is ruthless. This mobilises party heavyweights against him.

Being Karanga, ethnic politics also works against him as the Zezurus gang up to maintain party hegemony. Mugabe himself has proved to be the greatest hindrance because he does not want to hand over power to anyone, hence his decision to dissolve DCCs and the firing of provincial chairpersons that supported Mnangagwa in 2005

He is a shrewd tactician, very loyal to Mugabe and controls the intelligence services that he can use to his advantage to spy against his opponents.

He also comes from one of the Mashonaland provinces, the centre of power. His weaknesses are plenty; he has no national appeal, is not very senior in the party hierarchy and doesn’t seem to possess enough resources to mount a sustained national campaign.

Being from the same geographical area with Mugabe, Zanu PF members from other regions can conspire against him for the simple reason that they have been ruled by one of his own tribesman for more than three decades.

Khaya Moyo
He is part of the Zanu PF presidium.

His disadvantage in the scheme of things is that he comes from a minority group and the majority can connive against his ambitions. He is not very close to the security establishment that is dominated by former Zanla commanders. He also does not have enough resources to mount a serious campaign against his opponents.

Since Independence, the country’s military has played a ubiquitous role in electoral and political affairs of the country on the side of Zanu PF.

They issue pre-emptive coups on the eve of every election saying
that they would not respect any victory other than that of Zanu PF.

Chiwenga has been part of the military leadership at the turn of the 21st century that has actively campaigned for Zanu PF. His advantage is that he controls the coercive apparatus of the State that he can use against his opponents.

The army has been deployed in key State institutions on the economic, electoral and political fronts. He can easily mobilise these forces for his benefit.

The army under his leadership is also involved in mining diamonds, so he has a war chest to run a political campaign.

However, the general is not in the official structures of the party as a serving officer and there is no history in the party for such kind of ambition. His ascendancy could be interpreted as a constitutional coup and, therefore, unacceptable to Sadc, African Union and the rest of the international community.


She is acceptable to most moderates.

He has the support of the State intelligence and has a fairly strong faction. His past Gukurahundi background could be a huge obstacle.

He is a dark horse who could seize power if the politicians are slow to act. However, his bark appears to be worse than his bite as his military acumen is questionable. He is known as Zim 2 and has unlimited ambition. He may not enjoy the support of the lower echelons of the army and will enjoy little support from people beyond Zanu PF. His control over the securocracy is his biggest strength.

He will try and use the Ndebele card to lay claim to the presidency. He is also one of the few Zanu PF senior stalwarts who have managed to win an election at parliamentary level.

His vast wealth could open many political doors for him. He seems to have countrywide support within Zanu PF as evidenced on his birthday celebrations. Former Zapu stalwarts will oppose him strongly as they view him as not being 100% former Zapu having defected in the early 1980s.

Khaya Moyo
He has an outside chance since he has seniority, ethnicity and age on his side. He is, however, a poor political player and may lose out to Mpofu.

He is another dark horse who has age and aggression on his side.


No doubt her marriage to and support from the late Retired General Solomon Mujuru, once regarded as a the only man in Zanu PF who was brave enough to criticise Mugabe while reputed to have had popular support among the military rank and file, will also play to her advantage.

While she may still run the succession race on her own, her husband’s death may affect the same; secondly, the gender dynamics that influenced her rise to the presidium in Zanu PF are no longer as big now as they were then.

He has impressive liberation credentials. He is a hardliner who speaks very little, but renowned for being a cunning and savvy strategist.

He has important links in both the intelligence and military ranks as a result of his current and previous ministerial roles.

Mnangagwa is believed to be the only man who measures nearer to Mugabe’s rock-hard politics and a guarantor of Zanu PF’s continued legacy in the post-Mugabe era.

His longstanding alleged reputation for ruthlessness and violent politics, mostly a result of his role in the Gukurahundi atrocities, is a minus for him.

As with his age, the hardline image does not win him the hearts of the younger moderates and liberal elements in Zanu PF and outside. He is generally feared by the majority of Zimbabweans and may not be a favourite choice for many regional leaders.

He is a dyed-in-the-wool Mugabe loyalist, a zealous disciple of “Mugabenomics” and politics. He has the advantage of age should Zanu PF decide to introduce a Younger Turk.

He has connections with the rank and file in the intelligence. A beacon of radicalism, he has enough supporters among the youths. His strengths may ironically be his weaknesses. He will not gain ground should Zanu PF decide to do things differently, ie, break with the Mugabe legacy.

He is the army supremo with considerable support from within his ranks as well as other security departments. He is largely credited for spearheading Zanu PF’s comeback after the first round defeat during the 2008 elections and the paragon of Zanu PF and the security sector intransigence during the Government of National Unity.

His chances of succeeding Mugabe will only be spurred by chaotic scenarios either between Zanu PF and the MDCs or within Zanu PF itself. It is also dependent on support of the military top brass as well as the ordinary soldier. Some within Zanu PF may also be against militarism.

He is a Mugabe loyalist and trusted by the man at the helm. His subtle, but vital engagement in Zanu PF politics may be his trump card.

Untinctured by scandals and the obvious grandiose lifestyles of his colleagues, his reserved approach to the succession battle may win him the hearts of anti-factionalists, moderates and the cautionary elements who may want to avoid the possibility of cataclysm or destructive power struggles in the post-Mugabe era.

He may lose out to the leading secessionist protagonists, and his name may not be as common to the grassroots members as those of the other two: Mujuru and Mnangagwa.

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