ZANU PF politburo member and former Harare commissioner Cleveria Chizema has revealed that President Robert Mugabe no longer wanted to cling to power, but has no apparent successor within his party to maintain his legacy.
Report by John Nyashanu
Addressing a Zanu PF campaign rally in Mt Pleasant on Thursday, Chizema said factionalism and divisions in the party were forcing Mugabe (89) to remain in power.
“If you give a thorough look at the President, do you think he still wants to remain in office? But he then looks around and says who amongst my peers is capable of taking over.”
Chizema’s statement resonates with similar revelations made by Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott, who alleged last month that the veteran leader had confided in him that he wanted to relinquish power.
“I think if you asked him, he’d say it was enough. That’s what he said to us a few months ago,” Scott was quoted by the international media as having said of the Zanu PF leader, who has been in power since independence in 1980.
Mugabe has kept his succession plan a closely-guarded secret and besides Chizema, no other party member has spoken openly about the issue.
Former Mugabe allies, notably ex-Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa and former Finance minister Simba Makoni, have also disclosed that 89-year-old Zanu PF was ready to quit active politics, but was being held back by his close lieutenants and securocrats.
Some political analysts believe the Zanu PF politburo member is spot-on while others feel the President is still determined to rule.
“There is evidence that he may be thinking of stepping aside which can be seen in his utterances and actions which point to someone poised to leave a positive legacy in terms of three things – unity, peace and economic emancipation,” said political commentator McDonald Lewanika.
“He doesn’t want to leave a disintegrated party, hence his persistent calls for unity. His rhetoric around peace indicates he does not want to leave a legacy of violence and his determination to indigenise the economy is testimony of his desire to empower Zimbabweans before he goes.”
However, another political analyst, Ernest Mudzengi, said: “I think he still wants to soldier on. He recently said though he is now old, he could still continue running the country and I think he meant what he said.”
Zimbabwe is set to go for elections later this year and should Mugabe win, he could be in office until the age of 94.
Infighting to take over the batton is reportedly intensifiying in Zanu PF as two factions, one reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and another by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, are said to be leaving no stone unturned to prevail.
As polls beckon, primary elections are yet to be held allegedly because the party is failing to agree on guidelines. In addition, a probe team led by the party’s national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo is investigating all provinces amid reports that factionalism has taken root in all structures countrywide which analysts believe is set to cost Zanu PF dearly at the polls.