VICE-PRESIDENTS Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko are set to share the acting Presidency in President Robert Mugabe’s absence, as the veteran leader begins his annual leave anytime this month.
BY STAFF REPORTER
While this is normally a routine issue, Mugabe’s health and constitutional provisions on his succession have heightened tension in both the government and Zanu PF, leaving him with no choice but to make his VPs rotate the Acting Presidency on an equal footing.
“You know, constitutionally, if anything were to happen to the President, the last acting President automatically takes over for 90 days before the process of choosing a new leader by the party in government begins,” NewsDay heard.
“That is the sticky part and given the uncertainty the President has decided to share his leave days between the two.”
Sources close to the developments claimed Mphoko will start as acting President, before his counterpart Mnangagwa takes over for the last half of Mugabe’s leave.
Last year, Mnangagwa was left in sole charge of the country for just over a month after being appointed as VP following the sacking of Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru was shown the exit for allegedly propagating factionalism and seeking to oust Mugabe, allegations she denies.
Mphoko has been linked to a faction of the ruling party known as Generation 40, that also includes First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Other leading lights in the faction are Saviour Kasukuwere the Zanu PF political commissar, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao.
Traditionally, the acting Presidency rotated between the two Vice-Presidents, but this stopped after 2013, when John Nkomo died, leaving Mujuru as the sole Vice-President.
There have been reports of low level tensions in government, as some want Mnangagwa to act throughout Mugabe’s leave, as they reportedly argue that “Mphoko lacks the gravitas and capacity to run the country”.
“He does not have the capacity and if you look closely, the times he has been left as acting President have been those periods when the President is away for one or two days,” a highly placed source said.
“Mnangagwa has acted for longer periods and he has a better understanding of the country’s politics and economics. He is literally running the show regarding the re-engagement efforts and economic resuscitation agenda.”
Information ministry principal director, Regis Chikowore said Mugabe’s annual leave would only be officially announced when he begins the vacation.
“We get to know who will be the acting President when the President goes on leave. We don’t announce before he goes,” he said
“His day of going on leave is not for public consumption. We announce this at an appropriate time.”