Ndakaziva Majaka and Fungi Kwaramba 12 February 2017
HARARE – The persistent suspicions that President Robert Mugabe will lead
Zanu PF and Zimbabwe for life were given fresh wings yesterday when former
State Security minister – and for decades one of the nonagenarian’s
closest confidantes – Didymus Mutasa, claimed that his distinct impression
when the two geriatrics used to work together was that he wanted “to die
The sensational claim, which is destined to set tongues wagging among
long-suffering Zimbabweans, comes as Mugabe’s ruling party continues to be
devoured by its ugly and seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and
succession wars – with the increasingly frail nonagenarian doggedly
refusing to anoint a successor.
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday in an exclusive interview yesterday,
Mutasa – who is now an elder in the troubled Zimbabwe People First (ZPF)
party – said Zanu PF bigwigs angling to succeed Mugabe were likely to be
left bitterly disappointed as the nonagenarian clearly wished to die in
The former Zanu PF secretary for administration’s claims tally with
previous statements made by powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe and the
ruling party’s youth league, who have said the soon-to-be 93 long-ruling
leader should rule Zimbabwe for life.
“Mugabe does not have a succession plan. President Mugabe wanted, and I
believe this is what he is looking for, to leave government when he dies.
“That is when he will give up power and be taken from his deathbed to the
Heroes Acre. That is his plan. And if you ask anybody who is close to him
they will tell you that.
“I mean, his wife (Grace) has more or less mentioned it and (one of Zanu
PF’s leading candidates to succeed Mugabe, Vice President Emmerson)
Mnangagwa should know that too,” Mutasa said.
In May last year, Grace stunned thousands of Zanu PF supporters who had
gathered in Harare for a solidarity rally with the nonagenarian, when she
said Mugabe would rule Zimbabwe from the grave.
“We want you to lead this country from your grave, while you lie at the
National Heroes’ Acre,” she told the shell-shocked supporters.
In 2015, and while speaking during a rally at Murehwa Business Centre, the
influential first lady also warned Zanu PF heavyweights that she was going
to design a special wheelchair from which Mugabe would rule until he was
100 years old.
“We are going to create a special wheelchair for President Mugabe until he
rules to 100 years because that is what we want. That is the people’s
choice. We want a leader that respects us,” she said.
The Zanu PF youth league also formally moved a motion at the ruling
party’s annual conference which was held in Masvingo last December, for
Mugabe, to be declared life president.
Indeed, and despite the palpable excitement by warring Zanu PF bigwigs
ahead of the Masvingo meeting, the gathering turned out to be a damp
squib, after Mugabe once again cunningly resisted factional expectations
that he would finally show his hand on his bitterly-contested succession.
For weeks ahead of the meeting, the party’s two major factions – Team
Lacoste which is rallying behind Mnangagwa, and the Generation 40 (G40)
group which is rabidly opposed to the VP succeeding Mugabe – had huffed
and puffed in a desperate endeavour to win the nonagenarian’s public
But it all proved to be in vain, with Mugabe once again virtually
affirming the stubbornly persistent national suspicion that his is a
presidency for life – a reality that many leading lights in both Team
Lacoste and the G40 have resignedly admitted to in previous private
briefings with the Daily News on Sunday.
Instead, Mugabe slyly blew a gasket at the Masvingo gathering, savaging
his brawling lieutenants, while cunningly moving to finger some of his top
aides in alleged plots to hound him out of power – as the ruling party’s
tribal, factional and succession wars continue to burn hot.
He made a thinly-disguised dig at Team Lacoste, saying the party’s
leadership was not won through plotting the arrest of opponents, but
This was after the G40 had over the past few months alleged that the
Mnangagwa camp was abusing key State institutions, including lapdog State
media, to irregularly grab power in the former liberation movement.
“Hukuru muparty hunouya nekusarudzwa…hahuuye nokuti tosunga uyu
tipindewo isusu (the leadership of the party comes through elections and
not through plotting the arrest of fellow members,” Mugabe thundered.
In October this year, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc)
torched a political storm in Zanu PF after it swooped on Higher Education
minister Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Godfrey Gandawa during a
hotly-contested graft probe.
Moyo, who party insiders say is a key member of the G40, not only accused
Team Lacoste and key players at Zacc of waging a factionally-driven war
against him and other alleged G40 kingpins, he also threatened to sue
Mnangagwa and many other senior government officials.
But, in typical Mugabe style, the nonagenarian also moved to attack the
G40 at the meeting for their alleged indiscipline, and for abusing social
media to attack fellow party officials.
“To the party leadership, we do not run matters of the party through
Twitter or Facebook,” he said, as he sought to balance his criticism and
in the process consolidate his own position.
Political analysts who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday then said it
would have been “atypical” if Mugabe had chosen one faction over the
“The current situation where there are factions fighting each other below
him means that there isn’t a faction fighting him directly, so the
fighting serves him well,” said former civic leader, McDonald Lewanika.
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said Mugabe had repeatedly displayed “tendencies
that are consistent with someone who doesn’t want a successor”.
“He is officially the Zanu PF candidate for 2018 and that suits the G40
faction which he heads, but in the final analysis all that is happening is
that he wants to die in office,” he said.
But Mugabe – the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country
gained its independence from Britain in April 1980 – is facing the biggest
challenge to his 36-year rule.
The increasingly frail nonagenarian and Zanu PF are battling growing
unrest among the country’s restive populace, which blames his government
for presiding over the country’s dying economy and the deepening rot in
the former regional breadbasket.