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succession race far from over
The Standard (Zimbabwe)
December 01, 2013
contested provincial elections reached a denouement yesterday with
a faction linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru poised to sweep
most of the polls.
The elections marred
by allegations of vote buying and rigging, have left the party heavily
divided as different factions openly fought to position their members
for powerful positions ahead of next year’s elective congress.
Analysts said Mujuru’s
victory in the provincial polls has given her an unassailable edge
in the race to succeed 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe. But
others are of the view that it is not automatic that she will take
over the party leadership. Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa, are the leading contenders in the race to succeed Mugabe.
Both deny harbouring any ambitions.
Shakespear Hamauswa said while winning provincial elections was
crucial in the succession matrix, it was just but one step among
several others. He said there were some important constituencies
within Zanu-PF, as well as outside the party whose support was indispensable,
such as the youth wing and the women’s assembly.
“Without the support
of these, winning the succession battle only with provincial chairpersons
is not guaranteed,” he said. He said the security sector;
especially the army and the intelligence, were also among the kingmakers
in Zimbabwean politics.
Hamauswa said a win on
the political front without the support of such important constituencies
was like building without a foundation.
“In fact, it will
be a giant with clay feet,” he said. “Above all, if
the hand over takeover is to take place within Mugabe’s lifetime,
then the old man remains the master key who can untie all the golden
knots standing in the way of his preferred successor. This old man
is good at surprises. He can hand-pick someone whom we never thought
The political scientist
said Mujuru and Mnangagwa have in the past been assigned to various
tasks by Mugabe. He said in so doing, their aptitude, reaction to
crises and complex situations and their treatment of issues of national
cause have been tested.
the reports in his file and he knows who is a graduate between the
two,” he said. “It really seems Mnangagwa had passed
some of the tests with flying colours for it is believed he played
an important role toward the establishment of the GNU,
the end of civil war in Mozambique, among many other achievements.”
Hamauswa said it was
best that Mujuru and Mnangagwa concealed their intentions not only
by denying media allegations but by acting as if they did not know
of the “animal” called succession.
the two need to take control of their supporters. They should also
have their views on national interests straight,” he said.
Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure said
people should not rush to conclude that Mujuru was now certain to
take over as the party congress was still a year away.
He said politics by its
very nature was highly dynamic.
as the weather,” said Masunungure. “A year in politics
is a very long time. Lots of interventions can happen to upset one’s
He said Mugabe thrived
on infights and conflicts in the Zanu-PF party and had now developed
an art of delicately balancing the interests of the different factions
in the party.
Masunungure said Mugabe
did not want someone too close to helm, hence Mujuru’s success
in the provincial elections could prove to be her undoing. “She
is more strategically positioned courtesy of elections but this
may point to a downward trend in her fortunes. With Mugabe, when
one appears to be reaching the summit, all of a sudden you can be
a target for demotion.”
‘Mujuru looks poised
to grab the Zanu-PF throne’
Political analyst, Gift
Mambipiri said Mujuru looks poised to grab the Zanu-PF throne ahead
of Mnangagwa and any other factional leader who may emerge within
the next 12 months.
“Mai Mujuru has
outfoxed and outrun her challengers, and she also has a better appeal
to the electorate than other factional leaders that are rumoured
to have an interest,” he said. “It must be clear to
everyone that Mugabe will only be succeeded by his anointed successor.
If you carefully look at the developments and characters that have
run the party since the Zanu-PF primary elections, the cabinet appointments,
recent politburo pronouncements and the results that came so far
from provincial elections, then you can’t miss the open truth
that Mujuru seems to be the annointed one.”
Another political analyst,
Alois Masepe, was also of the opinion that the battle to succeed
Mugabe was being fought in provinces. “The provinces are the
kingmakers as they are the electorate at the next congress. Whoever
wins at provincial level is almost guaranteed to get the top post,”
Masepe said using Zanu-PF’s
hierarchical system; Mujuru had all but sealed her ascendancy.
“Anyone who leapfrogs
Mujuru will have to use other means. All she has to do is protect
her territory, entrench her position and maintain her popularity,”
Masepe said there were
two movements in Zanu-PF, one which is pro-hierarchy and the other
that is anti-hierarchy. He said the anti-hierarchy movement was
trying to disturb the status quo and cause the emergence of a new
“If those on the
hierarchy sit on their laurels and say we are there, they will be
shocked,” he said, adding it was only through manipulation
and machination that Mujuru can be upstaged.
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