PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe should, for now, forget about his candidature for the 2018 presidential elections and, instead, focus on coming up with a clear succession plan and economic turn-around strategies, former politburo member, Cephas Msipa has said.
By Richard Chidza
Msipa told NewsDay, in an interview on the sidelines of former Cabinet minister, David Coltart’s book launch last week, that the best legacy Mugabe could give Zimbabwe was a “succession plan before he goes”.
“Mugabe must put the country first. At the moment, Zimbabweans do not know what tomorrow holds and are literally groping in the dark. Forget about elections in 2018 and do something now,” he said.
“I cannot force Mugabe to stepdown, but given his age, I think it’s important for him to find a solution now.
Zimbabweans are asking what happens when he goes. It is a problem and scary scenario.”
Mugabe has indicated he is ready to stand as the Zanu PF candidate in elections expected in mid-2018, when
he will be 94.
However, a vicious succession struggle rocking the former liberation movement has presented him with
headaches, as senior leaders in the party position themselves to takeover after him.
Two groups, one believed to be loyal to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and another made up of predominantly young party members said to be pushing for First Lady Grace Mugabe, have emerged.
Both Grace and Mnangagwa have denied angling to succeed the President or leading the factions.
Msipa said Mugabe’s inaction in resolving the succession issue was worrying.
“I am worried and Zimbabweans are worried, and without a proper succession plan, Mugabe’s departure presents
a worrying scenario,” he said.
“Mugabe should be looking beyond his party because he is the so-called only centre of power and can do what he wants. I would have him use that opportunity to now move and set out a clear succession plan.” Msipa said while Mugabe was largely to blame for the country’s current political and socio-economic crises, the veteran politician also holds the keys to resolving them.
“There is no solution to Zimbabwe’s problems without Zanu PF. Mugabe is part of the problems and he should be part of the solution as well,” the former Midlands governor continued.
“He needs to accept that there is going to be change, but he needs to manage that. He can facilitate the change of
“He should allow people to begin to talk about it and in the process of talking, we will find answers.
“Mugabe should take the lead. He is the key. He has the power and support of his party and can provide direction. He can make his party turn left or right. It is up to him to come up with a plan to manage the transition.”
Msipa said Mugabe could take a cue from the late Tanzanian founding leader, Julius Nyerere, who stepped down and allowed for a peaceful and orderly transition.
“I am not asking him to re-invent the wheel. There are examples all over, like Nyerere did in Tanzania. He needs to really think about it and understand that a peaceful transition will be the best thing he could bequeath to this country,” he said.
“Zimbabweans might actually forgive him for everything he is accused of having done in the past three-and-half decades.
He needs to say to himself: ‘I do not want this country to sink with me, I want it to prosper’.
“There are quite a number of elders in the country who would be willing to help and I will be willing to assist in that process as well.”