From the archive April 2012: Mnangagwa dismisses succession claims

via Mnangagwa dismisses succession claims 20 April 2012

DEFENCE Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has denied reaching a secret “gentlemen’s agreement” with President Robert Mugabe to take over power.

Mnangagwa dismissed the claims Thursday while presenting a public lecture at the Midlands State University in Gweru insisting: “I was as surprised as you to learn that there was a pact between the President and myself to take over office. I also read about it in the Press. This is a strategy by our enemies.”

The UK-based Telegragh newspaper recently claimed that Mugabe – 88 this year and in power for more than three decades – would contest elections one last time, possibly this year, before handing over to his feared lieutenant.

Mugabe reportedly made the offer after losing to Tsvangirai in the first round of the 2008 Presidential ballot and assured Mnangagwa he would take over if the Defence Minister helped engineer a second round victory.

But Mnagwagwa said the reports were the work of enemies bent on causing havoc within Zanu PF.

“There is no such thing and these are the efforts of detractors bent on causing alarm and chaos among the authorities, both in Zanu PF and the government,” he said.

“It is only a subject that exists in the minds of those who do not wish us well as a nation. There is really nothing to it. It’s just wishful thinking from our enemies The fortunate thing is that we are so mature to be distracted by such mentally-deranged people. I, therefore, rest my case.”

Mnangagwa – who has long been rumoured to be Mugabe’s choice as successor – is said to lead on of the two major factions within Zanu PF with the other understood to be backing Vice President Joice Mujuru.

However, in yet another indication that he faces a tough fight from within the party, secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa insisted that Mnangagwa was far from being a shoe-in for the top job.

“We have a hierarchy that we follow as a party; Mai Mujuru is better placed (to succeed Mugabe) as well as (co-vice-president) John Nkomo and even Simon Khaya Moyo (party chairman),” Mutasa said.

“These are the people who can take over today. Whoever is funding this succession agenda has a wrong motive and should not be allowed to continue doing so.”

Internecine fights within Zanu PF have worsened lately amid increasing concern over Mugabe’s health and advanced age. The Zanu PF leader insists he is in robust physical condition.

Still, critics say the party is trying to force elections this year worried that the ageing leader would struggle to cope with a rigorous campaign if the ballot is delayed further.

The MDC formations which partner Zanu PF in the coalition government argue that new elections cannot be held until political reforms that include work on a new constitution are completed.