via Mugabe hangs on to power by John Nyashanu for NewsDay October 22, 2013
Mugabe is set to maintain his stranglehold on power following indications that the contentious succession issue will not be on the agenda of Zanu PF’s conference scheduled for December this year in Chinhoyi.
Mugabe has successfully shrugged off calls by some factions with his party to turn the forthcoming conference into a mini-congress to elect members of the Presidium which include the Vice-Presidency that fell vacant following the death of John Nkomo early this year.
Developments over the weekend indicate serious stampeding by factions eyeing his position to catapult their allies to become Zanu PF provincial chairpersons ahead of next year’s elective congress. The provincial chairpersons constitute Zanu PF’s Electoral College which chooses the Presidium, comprising the President, his two deputies and the national chairman. Over the weekend media reports said that the debate on who would succeed President Mugabe would not feature in the conference’s deliberations.
“Succession is not on the agenda. We have just come out of an election that gave us a huge mandate to deliver on promises made to voters,” said an official who was not identified. Speaking after casting his vote on July 31, Mugabe vowed to stay in office for another five years, to complete his seventh presidential term at age 95.
“I am going to serve the whole term. Why should I put myself as a candidate if I were to resign?” he said. It also emerged yesterday that in all the 10 provinces, two factions, one reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and the other by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, were leaving no stone unturned to ensure their lieutenants were in prime positions.
The two have repeatedly denied harbouring presidential ambitions.
In Masvingo two former soldiers — Retired Brigadier General Killian Gwanetsa — who is believed to be a Mujuru ally — and Retired Major General Gibson Mashingaidze, a suspected Mnangagwa sympathiser, have set sights on the position of provincial chairman. Both aspirants recently confirmed their interest to NewsDay.
Sources also told NewsDay that in Manicaland, incumbent chairperson John Mvundura, who, is believed to be a Mujuru ally was tipped to retain his position. He is pitted against former Public Service deputy minister Monica Mutsvangwa, suspected to be from the Mnangagwa camp.
In Mashonaland West front runners were said to include Nimrod Chiminya who is said to be backed by his cousin, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, flamboyant businessman Phillip Chiyangwa and incumbent chairman John Mafa, who is believed to back Mnangagwa.
Legislator Temba Mliswa, also suspected to belong to the Justice minister’s camp, is again said to be vying for the top post.
Similar jostling is also said to be underway in Midlands where incumbent chair Jason Machaya, reportedly aligned to Mujuru, and his deputy, Larry Mavhima, suspected to be from the opposite faction, are said to be vying for the chairmanship.
Mavhima yesterday confirmed his interest in the province’s top job saying: “I was approached by leaders in the party who felt that I could provide vision and leadership in the province, new blood and new ideas and as a party cadre invited to serve I greatly obliged.”
Also eyeing a position in party structures is Mnangagwa’s son Emmerson Jnr, who submitted his CV for the position of Midlands Zanu PF youth assembly representative as he seeks to open his political life. Contacted for comment on Sunday, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa refused to shed light on whether this was a party position cast in stone or the central committee member was merely expressing his/her own position.
“I am not commenting on any issue today. This is a Sunday and I do not entertain newspapers on Sundays,” said Mutasa before switching off his phone. Further efforts to engage him yesterday were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was not reachable.
Zanu PF deputy director of information Psychology Maziwisa referred NewsDay to party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo who could also not be reached for comment.