via Mugabe’s 2018 plan greeted with scorn – DailyNews Live 21 August 2014 by Gift Phiri
HARARE – The ruling Zanu PF’s plans to field President Robert Mugabe as its presidential candidate in 2018 elections has been greeted with widespread disbelief and scorn by his foes.
The Zanu PF Women’s League’s sixth congress that ended last weekend agreed to rally around the candidacy of Mugabe, who will be 94 at the next polls.
This was after the women also pledged that they would fully support him to retain the first secretary’s post over the next five years. Mugabe’s candidacy is expected to be officially announced after a party congress scheduled for December in Harare.
Mugabe accepted the nomination last Friday in a keynote address. The 90-year-old Mugabe spoke confidently for about an hour before a crowd of cheering loyalists, who occasionally interrupted him to shout and applaud, at one point raising their fists and chanting: “Pamberi naGushungo!”
“Ndinoda kukutendai zvikuru neresolution yamapasisa (I want to thank you for this resolution), the resolution whereby you state that I should be the sole candidate wenyu (for you) for the presidency,” he said.
Mugabe, who defeated the opposition MDC in a controversial vote last year that has been described as “rigged”, is hugely popular among Zanu PF voters, and also has a loyal following among elder voters, an increasingly influential demographic group in Zimbabwe.
But Mugabe’s domestic foes were yesterday scornful and dismissive of the plan.
The resolution was sledged by the opposition as yet another attempt by the Zanu PF regime to cling to power and does nothing to advance the Zimbabwean people’s goal of a political transition.
Describing the resolution as being detached from reality, Alex Magaisa, a law professor and former aide of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, said the decision was made because Zanu PF could not deal with its succession conundrum.
“This is a period of potentially career-threatening injuries and everyone is hedging their bets,” Magaisa told the Daily News yesterday.
“Nominating Mugabe means they are not agreed and cannot agree on who should succeed him. This means a section of the party has no confidence in the Vice President Joice Mujuru and she has a big fight on her hands if she is to succeed Mugabe.”
Publisher and academic Ibbo Mandaza said the resolution showed that Mugabe wanted to die in office and was part of an attempt to eliminate Mujuru from the succession race.
The resolution was made after the Women’s League had handpicked Mugabe’s wife Grace to be its new head in a move analysts say was a masterstroke aimed at diluting the power of Mujuru, a party “moderate”, who until now was widely seen as the heir apparent and hot favourite in the race to succeed Mugabe.
Magaisa said those contesting Mujuru’s potential leadership do not have the guts to put forward their names and back their intentions.
“So they are cowardly hiding behind the nonagenarian, abusing him in the process,” he told the Daily News.
“No one takes Zimbabwe seriously right now and no one will in four years time with Zanu PF putting forward an elderly gentleman as their candidate.
“It doesn’t do the country any good. They are not serious and it makes no sense even to fools in the street. One can only imagine that it is being done to frustrate Joice Mujuru and satisfy president Mugabe’s desire to spend the rest of his years in office.”
Besides undermining Mujuru, the move would only allow the Zanu PF regime to further perpetuate its oppression of the Zimbabwean people, opposition officials said.
“It’s infantile behaviour and collective senility because this constant adoration of an individual who is clearly negotiating with his ancestors for a safe place to rest does not take the nation anywhere,” Jacob Mafume, spokesperson of the MDC renewal team, said.
“The issue of Mugabe’s successor has become an issue of national security. It is the duty of Zanu PF to be able to retire Mugabe in a manner that will not humiliate him. What they are doing is now exposing him to ridicule bordering on the offence of denigrating the Office of the President.
“If they want, the whole nation is available to retire this man with some shred of dignity. For a party that claims to be visionary, their inability to see beyond one man is telling.”
Simba Makoni’s opposition Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn maintained their position that Mugabe has to step aside and allow for political transition.
“It shows that Zanu PF yapererwa (has run out of ideas), they have no direction, they don’t think about the future,” Evans Sagomba, MKD spokesperson said.
“Mugabe has no role to play in the future of Zimbabwe. They should allow the old man to go and rest. People in their right senses won’t endorse something like that.
“Mugabe will be 94 in 2018 and what can a 94-year-old man do? What new ideas can he bring on the table? What new things can he introduce now that he has failed to implement in the last 34 years?
“Zanu PF is holding Zimbabweans at ransom and history will judge them harshly.”
Mugabe, a teacher with an impressive string of degrees, has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.
Madock Chivasa, spokesperson for the opposition National Constitutional Assembly said: “They got a mandate to govern and instead of focusing on improving people’s livelihoods, they just think of elections. It’s the highest level of emptiness from a party in government.”