Grace, VP factions bank on conference

via Grace, VP factions bank on conference – DailyNews Live 13 November 2015

HARARE – The two major post-congress Zanu PF factions battling for supremacy in the party’s deadly race to succeed President Robert Mugabe, 91, are both banking on next month’s annual conference in Victoria Falls becoming elective to advance their respective interests.

While the faction linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa wants to use the conference to nudge Mugabe to announce his retirement and anoint a successor now, the rival group of ambitious Young Turks, the Generation 40 (G40), wants Mugabe endorsed as life president, with controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe taking over from the Midlands godfather as one of the party’s two vice-presidents.

Interestingly too, Zanu PF insiders say both factions want to take advantage of a clause in the party’s new constitution that allows for the annual conference to become an elective one.

“Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa’s faction) wants to rally provinces to endorse him as the party’s candidate for 2018, while the G40 want to use the structures that Kasukuwere is establishing throughout the country at the elective conference to further assert their position.

“Cunningly, they also want President Mugabe to be declared life president, thereby thwarting Ngwena (Mnangagwa)” a senior Zanu PF official told the Daily News last night.

Asked to comment on how the party’s December conference could be used to elect a new party leadership, Kasukuwere confirmed the existence of such a clause in the Zanu PF constitution, but insisted that there was “neither a vacancy in the party nor an emergency to warrant an extra-ordinary congress”.

“Even if we were to do that (turning the conference into an elective one), what would be the need when we had our congress in December last year and elected President Robert Mugabe who is there and is president for life? There is no vacancy, cadit quaestio! (the question falls away),” Kasukuwere said.

He described party officials wishing Mugabe away as “detractors bent on causing unnecessary confusion in the party” and challenged them to publicly declare their interests.

But with Mugabe looking increasingly frail due to advanced age and failing health, Mnangagwa’s allies are said to be sensing that they have weathered the political storm that has surrounded the embattled VP over the past few months, and that they now need to move with speed to press home their advantage.

This comes as the warring ruling party is awash with talk about the possibility of Mugabe relinquishing power before the end of his current term, which ends in 2018 — amid a counter push by the G40 and other Grace supporters that the first lady should take over in that unlikely event.