PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has effectively ruled out anointing a successor, saying he would remain in contention for the 2018 general elections and lead his ruling Zanu PF party into the 2019 elective congress.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mugabe (92), in a delayed traditional interview with State media normally broadcast on the eve of his birthday, also scoffed at suggestions he wanted to pass the baton to his sharp-tongued wife First Lady Grace.
“Some are talking of successor, why? I am still there. I did not go into the 2013 elections for someone to complete my five-year term which ends in 2018,” Mugabe said.
“Where has that happened (having a wife taking over from the husband as President)? Even in African culture, leaders left behind chose the successor,” the veteran nationalist said.
Mugabe indicated he was aware of their schemes to use her just to get to power and later dump her.
“There are even those saying go in first and I will take over — those are wild suggestions. A leader is elected properly by the congress. It is only the congress that chooses the next leader,” Mugabe added.
Mugabe was elected for another term as Zanu PF leader at the raucous 2014 congress where his then deputy, Joice Mujuru, and her allies were unceremoniously booted out for allegedly plotting his ouster.
The next Zanu PF congress is set for the end of 2019 and by then, Mugabe would be 95.
Zanu PF is currently in the throes of a vicious internal power struggle centred around Mugabe’s successor.
Two distinct factions — the G40 and another one believed to be led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa — are jostling to position themselves to succeed Mugabe.
Mnangagwa has been viewed as Mugabe’s heir-apparent after serving as his special assistant since the days of the liberation struggle over five decades ago.
G40 also boasts among its ranks senior party members like Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and secretary for science and technology Jonathan Moyo.
Grace, who was turned into a blunt object to hound Mujuru out of both Zanu PF and government, has turned her swords against Mnangagwa in a final assault for the country’s top job.
Given the reports of rampant corruption among his lieutenants that he has not denied, Mugabe seemed to suggest that none close to him would take over.
He said his preferred successor must be “ideologically clear and untainted by corruption and scandals”.
“The person should be one that the party regards as having the qualities that leadership demands. First, to unite the people and to ensure that the people’s interests are carried out,” he said.
Mugabe laughed off reports of an impending coalition of opposition parties to challenge him in 2018, saying: “You cannot come together just for the sake of regime change. If that is what they are up to, they are lost.”