ALTHOUGH ideologically different, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Zanu PF arch rival, President Robert Mugabe have one thing in common — their failure to come up with an uncontestable succession plan, respected political analyst Eldred Masunungure has said.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe have, despite fighting cancer-related ill health, refused to openly lay bare their succession plans, insisting there was no need to talk about it because when the time comes, the party will renew itself through congress.
The unresolved succession question has ruffled feathers in Zanu PF, much the same as in the MDC-T, where the opposition was thrown into panic after Tsvangirai was airlifted to South Africa on life support, amid fears he could become incapacitated due to ill health.
At 93, Mugabe has been Zanu PF’s sole leader since the late 1970s and is at the helm of government since independence in 1980, while Tsvangirai founded the MDC in 1999, as its leader and remains so.
Mugabe is currently battling to contain the raging debate over his successor, where his wife Grace, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi have emerged as contenders for the post, though they have all denied ambitions to succeed the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader.
Back at Harvest House, the recent panic within the soul of the MDC-T was mainly on leadership renewal, the big question being who will take over if Tsvangirai became indisposed.
Masunungure said it appears that the virus in Zanu PF of concentrating power in one person through the one centre of power policy appears to have spread to the MDC-T.
“In both instances we have witnessed the concentration of the one centre of power phenomenon in Zanu PF, you know that virus also infected the opposition,” he said.
Masunungure was quick to point out that the lack of succession planning was an issue across Africa informed by cultural practices.
“In African tradition, it has always been difficult to see one live chief passing on power to another living chief.
Power has always been transferred by death and at most times causing conflict. It is out of tune with modern realities,” he said.
Masunungure said the issue of having more than one vice-president created more confusion around succession.
“They are not ranked and appear to be equal and in that case there is no clear plan of succession,” he said.
Tsvangirai has Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as his deputies, while Mugabe has Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko deputising him on an equal footing.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu insists his party’s succession plan was clear although he declined to elaborate further.
“We have the party leadership that is there in terms of our constitution. All matters to do with succession are well-provided for in that document. There is no crisis,” he said.
The party’s national executive member, Jameson Timba said any of the three vice presidents can take over from Tsvangirai.
“We have three vice-presidents and any one of them can be a president at a special or ordinary congress inasmuch as act in the absence of the president as is the case now, where vice-president Khupe is acting,” he said.
The top opposition political parties also appear to be in the same box, suffering from malnutrition of clear succession plans and with some folding or splitting once its founding leader is indisposed.
Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party also appears to have joined the fray with two vice-presidents both in the twilight of their lives and also needing to be succeeded.
John Mvundura and Samuel Sipepa Nkomo are both over 70 and between them there is none ranked above the other.
NPP secretary-general, Gift Nyandoro refused to comment on his party’s succession plan.