VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has subtly positioned himself as President Robert Mugabe’s sole successor, citing his long working relationship with the 91-year-old veteran Zanu PF politician, but warned that it was not automatic.
Yesterday political analysts warned that Zanu PF’s unresolved succession question was driving away potential investors as they were unsure of the security of their investments.
In an interview with London-based New African magazine last week, Mnangagwa also insinuated that
the country’s current crop of military leaders were not eligible because they were juniors during the armed struggle.
“I don’t think the next generation will be able to produce a personlike him. I don’t think we can get a person even in our generation who can fill his shoes to the extent that he has been able to remain an intellectual giant in leading our people and charting a course for the African people of this region, perhaps even continentally,” Mnangagwa added.
“But having worked with him for all this time, there are so many cadres who are now solid. But they are not of the same vision, character and intellectual mettle of Mugabe. We shall miss him dearly. He is an outstanding leader and human being.”
In the same interview Mnangagwa, who served as Mugabe’s personal assistant during the liberation war, spoke glowingly of his relationship with Mugabe.
Zanu PF is currently embroiled in a nasty succession fight where several names have been thrown into the ring in preparation for the post-Mugabe era. The list includes some serving securocrats whom Mnangagwa described as “junior officers” during the liberation struggle.
Mnangagwa implied during the interview that he had learnt a lot from Mugabe since they started working together at the formation of Zanu in 1963.
“But I can say that most of us who have worked together in the last 40 years – in government I can count them on my fingers – the majority were in the army. The current army commanders were very young at the time, and I can guarantee you that there is nobody in the army who is of our generation,” the VP said.
“Those who are heading the military were junior officers during the struggle because all their commanders have either died or retired. But the young people who are now in the leadership follow the footsteps of the President. They admire him and are committed to him both in terms of loyalty and perseverance, and they will uphold what we call the revolutionary correct line.”
The former Chirumanzu-Zibagwe, however, indicated that it would not be easy for him to take over from Mugabe even though he was now in the Presidium.
Recently, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo torched a storm after he told a BBC journalist that Mnangagwa was not an “automatic heir”.
Zanu PF fired former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and many other senior officials including former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo for allegedly plotting a post-Mugabe power transfer.
Mujuru’s camp has denied the allegations but rather questioned why they were being purged for openly bringing debate on Mugabe’s succession.
Analyst Alexander Rusero said Mnangagwa was being diplomatic and only trying to manage Zanu PF politics that punishes anyone ambitious.
“It is about him distancing himself and repeating Moyo’s statements during that BBC interview. That’s a survival tactic in Zanu PF politically. It is tricky to be seen to be outshining the master because the same thing that happened to Mujuru can happen to anyone. He is playing his cards well but we know that you don’t just become a Vice-President to remain Vice-President. In any field, you aspire to occupy the highest rank.”
He said distancing himself from the succession matrix would not solve the mess in the ruling party as it was clear that Mugabe has to be succeeded.
Another analyst Ibbo Mandaza said Mnangagwa’s statement showed that he was just “scared”.
“He is just scared, they are always scared,” Mandaza said.
Analyst Gladys Hlatywayo last week, said there was need for the succession issue to be addressed in the party and country since at 91, Mugabe was uninspiring.
“A 91-year-old President who has been in power for 35 years does not also inspire confidence both domestically and internationally,” she said.
Analyst Blessing Vava also said Zanu PF should admit failure and work with others to address a myriad of challenges the country was facing.
“The situation we have just doesn’t bring confidence to those who want to do business, worse of the age of the president is very much worrying, Zanu PF has to deal with its succession because every step to progress is underpinned by the succession question,” he said.
MDC Renewal spokesperson Jacob Mafume said: “Mugabe must be succeeded as matter of national security either within Zanu PF itself and/or from outside. This idea that a 90 something year old will rescue this economy from the sewer he put it in is fast turning from a joke into a badly written horror story.”-NEWSDAY