Who could be Zimbabwe’s next president?

Source: Who could be Zimbabwe’s next president? – CNN  Sep 13, 2016

(CNN) —At 92, Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for longer than most Zimbabweans have been alive, taking office in 1980 after a brutal war and negotiated peace deal.

In his early years in power, Mugabe was hailed as a visionary leader who reconciled with former colonial rulers and promoted one of the most impressive education systems on the continent.

But he has since presided over an economic meltdown, violent suppression of dissent, and a regime frequently accused of corruption, and suppressing human rights.

In recent months, rumors of Mugabe’s health have swirled unabated. It has become a parlor game for Zimbabwean’s on social media to track his presidential plane in case he is spirited out of the country. Rumors of his death have surfaced — more than once.

On his return from a recent trip, Mugabe dealt with those rumors head-on. “Yes, I was dead, it’s true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real,” he told assembled reporters.

But the president is 92 and, inevitably, someone will eventually take his place in power. Here is a short list, by no means comprehensive, of some people you should be watching.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Emmerson Mnangagwa is Zimbabwe’s co-Vice President, justice minister, and one of the most powerful figures in the country.

Nicknamed “The Crocodile” for his political cunning and also, perhaps, for the name of the guerrilla group he helped lead during the fight for independence, Mnangagwa is a feared figure in Zimbabwe — not only for his closeness to Robert Mugabe, but also for his hold on the state security apparatus.

Mnangagwa was the country’s spy chief in the 1980s when a campaign of terror was unleashed by the North Korean-trained fifth brigade against political opponents and civilians in Matabeleland known as the Gukurahundi.

The killings are still an open sore in Zimbabwe, but Mnangagwa has denied involvement and reportedly blamed the army.

Many feel that Mnangagwa is biding his time. Constitutionally, he would become president of Mugabe leaves the stage.

Joice Mujuru

For most of Joice Mujuru’s political life, she was considered the ultimate insider in Zimbabwe power politics. She became Vice President until she was purged by Robert Mugabe in 2014 for allegedly plotting against the longtime ruler.

Mujuru has impeccable liberation struggle credentials. As a teenager she joined the war of independence and took the name Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood). She claimed to have downed a military helicopter with a machine gun, and has held government and political posts since independence in 1980.

Mujuru and her then-husband Solomon Mujuru — a liberation stalwart himself — were accused of benefiting from the so-called farm invasions, by taking at least one formerly white-owned farm. Mujuru’s business interests in mining have also faced scrutiny.

Solomon Mujuru, Zimbabwe’s first post-independence military general, died in a suspicious fire in 2011.

Joice Mujuru was long seen as a potential successor to Mugabe, but faced increasing criticism — particularly from first lady Grace Mugabe — and was expelled in late 2014 from the Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

She formed the Zimbabwe People First Party earlier this year, which could be a major contender in the 2018 elections.

Grace Mugabe

Grace Mugabe began an affair with the much older Robert Mugabe while working as a secretary in State House in the 1980s.

But over the years, Mugabe’s second wife has garnered significant power and influence and has frequently been talked about as a potential successor to the President.

While Grace Mugabe doesn’t share the struggle credentials of other potential successors, her proximity to the long-time president has been a powerful tool.

Known as a blunt speaker, she helped push Joice Mujuru from her position of power by claiming she was power hungry and untrustworthy.

Grace Mugabe has expansive business interests in Zimbabwe and, like her husband, is on an EU and US targeted sanctions list.

She is praised for her extensive philanthropic work, particularly for orphans, but her lavish shopping sprees gave her the nickname “Gucci Grace.”

And many Zimbabweans both inside and outside the political elite appear resentful of her influence in government.

Morgan Tsvangirai

A longtime opposition leader and trade union activist, Morgan Tsvangirai has been a staunch critic of Robert Mugabe since the late 1990s.

A former member of the ruling Zanu-PF, Tsvangarai formed the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that helped defeat a 2000 referendum on constitutional referendum that would have extended Mugabe’s rule and sanctioned the expropriation of white-owned land.

After a strong showing in parliamentary elections, Tsvangarai faced a series of treason charges and lengthy trials, but was acquitted.

In 2007, Tsvangirai and other MDC activists were brutally beaten by police after being arrested on his way to a government protest rally.

Tsvangirai lost to Mugabe in a presidential election runoff in 2008. The ballot was marred by widespread accusations of intimidation and violence by the ruling party.

The disputed vote led to a power-sharing agreement between Mugabe, Tsvangarai and Arthur Mutambara, leaving Tsvangarai as Prime Minister.

Tsvangarai lost his position when the agreement folded after another disputed election in 2013, where he lost handily to Mugabe. He alleged widespread fraud but withdrew his court challenge.

Many in Zimbabwe we have spoken to feel that the years of political fighting, infighting and personal tragedy (Tsvangarai lost his wife in 2009 to a car crash) could have taken a toll.


  • comment-avatar
    TJINGABABILI 6 years ago


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    william mills 6 years ago

    Seriously, there is no one on the horizon who would not nearly be a clone of him , which means that most likely there will be chaos , and even the possibility of civil war no matter who the successor is. Of course he could name a successor while he still can which would start the process of letting the people get to know and accept someone. But I doubt he will do it because in spite of his considerable collection of honorary degrees he has not established a record of wise or clever accomplishments. He is most notable for clinging to power at least 2-decades longer than he should have, not to mention the institutionalization of corruption which he characterizes as ‘patronage opportunities’. Lets hope for a good transition in any case. I would be delighted to be wrong in my assessment.

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      Gustav Meyrink 6 years ago

      Like most dictators Mugabe has a well-established record of paranoia though.
      From the moment he would name a successor he would live in constant fear that this very person may have him killed anytime.

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    mandevu 6 years ago

    none of those mentioned are suitable candidates. We need fresh faces, fresh thinking, someone who is more worldly

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      Fallenz 6 years ago

      “Worldly”??? How about anyone with any amount of integrity, civility, and reason. Those are the voids in Zim leadership. He doesn’t even need to know law or business… he can appoint reputable, capable ministers to advise him on such matters. With the proper values in leadership, the nation can be rescued from the cesspool into which Mugabe and ZANU-PF have dragged Zim. They have collectively taken it so far that it’s holding on by only two fingers, but if the leadership cares about the nation and the people, rather than concentrating only on their own power and wealth, it might be saved from the depths of despair and ruin brought by those who have stripped an outstanding country of pride and productivity and resources.

      To think that anything better than those currently in power is good enough, is in error. Leadership that simply steals less or is somewhat less corrupt is not going to help return Zim to its rank among nations. Good governance isn’t a matter of being less bad… it will come only from a complete turn… a change compatible to “night vs day”… visible, recognizable change. Any with the “ZANU-PF state of mind” will only complete the destruction that began in 1980.

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    Bright Spark 6 years ago

    Our next President is Strive Masiyiwa. A real hardworking and clean Zimbabwean. If there is anyone who will clean up the corruption, ineptitude and total mess that Mugabe has left behind, it is Strive. He will be our own Mugufuli. Viva Strive Viva…

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    Reverend 6 years ago

    I call people to consider a man of integrity, love for his fellow man, and wisdom and gentleness that are from the God he worships. He is a man of energy ad determination and he is Jacob Ngaravhume who is the founder of PNZ (Prayer Network of Zimbabwe) and President of the party “Transform Zimbabwe”. I know this man personally and I am praying that this mighty man of God will be His choice to lead this country to the nation we are looking to achieve. Watch this man!

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    Cypriano 6 years ago

    This article lacked conclusion and this is below par journalism.The name Tsvangirai was not correctly spelt(Tsvangarai).Don’t write articles when your are dosing.

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    nelson moyo 6 years ago

    One of Dr Joseph Made or Comrade Joseph Chinotimba could take over the Presidency of Zimbabwe

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    Viringe 6 years ago

    All the mentioned politicians or people will not succeed Mugabe. Someone out there a dark horse will succeed Mugabe. All the mentioned people vari kusakurira vamwe handivo vachakohwa.

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    some khey dont want to vote for mugabe,but myself i conteneously vote for no confidence.thousands scadals of mugabe killings are recoded especially ndebele kilings and abandoning of Tonga tribe along Zambezi.if mugabe’s daughter (mnangangwa)become a president,i wont hasitate to assasenate myself.mna/mnangangwa z a good and energetic killer.Eventhough you have no confidence to MUJURU,i will,shall and am going to vote for her.KUNEMBO ABANTU.

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    Honest people with no personal agend but to serve Zimbabwean citizens. Men like Ibbo Mandaza and Tony Reeler .