PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s latest rant about Zanu PF factionalism confirms that Vice-President Emmerson Mangangwa will not be his automatic successor, a prominent political analyst said yesterday.
Mugabe on Saturday told Zanu PF youths the ruling party was now divided into factions backing Mnangagwa and Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko.
The 91-year-old leader said those supporting Mnangagwa and Mphoko’s camps were like ousted Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s supporters.
“If you are choosing between my two Vice-Presidents, you are beginning your own Gamatox,” Mugabe said.
“They occupy equal sphere. If you say you want this one to succeed, you are already bringing division within the people and this soon after our election.”
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said for Mugabe, the succession debate appeared to be off limits.
“He looks like he doesn’t want any talk about succession. To him, that is taboo,” Mandaza said.
“That’s the import of what he is saying and it’s more or less what (Tsholotsho North MP) Jonathan Moyo said in the BBC interview on Mnangagwa not being the automatic heir.
“It is again that argument on him being a one centre of power and insisting that succession is not on the agenda, it is weird.”
Moyo in May told the BBC that Mnangagwa was appointed to assist Mugabe not succeed him, a remark that angered the VP’s backers.
Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF six months ago on allegations of leading a faction that was plotting to topple Mugabe. She has strongly denied the charges and challenged Zanu PF to prove them in court.
Meanwhile, a Mnangagwa ally yesterday said Mugabe’s statements were mainly directed at Mphoko who has allegedly been working hard to build a political base.
“Mphoko thinks about succession now and there are some members already in the party who are ganging up against one VP (Mnangagwa) in a bid to soil his name,” the Mnangagwa ally said.
“They are doing everything possible to ensure he does not get to the top.”
He said Mphoko was being used by Zanu PF top officials who had an axe to grind with Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa has long been touted as a Mugabe successor and after the expulsion of Mujuru in December last year, he appeared to be a clear favourite to land the top post as Mphoko did not have political clout.
Mphoko has publicly challenged the notion that he is junior to Mnangagwa.
“The VPs are at the same level. All along, Mphoko has been taken as the second VP, but he is standing his ground that he is equal to Mnangagwa. It seems he is slowly trying to demystify that issue,” the Mnangagwa ally added.
“However, it should be noted that the two VPs have different backgrounds. Mnangagwa has been there and has been a politburo member for long, has been minister of several ministries as well as being Speaker of Parliament, while the same cannot be said of Mphoko.
“He is also trying to build his power base. Therefore, this (fighting) is not going to end any time soon,” the source added.
“We have our preferences, but at the moment, we are waiting to see how things will work out. We don’t need to rush into their fights.”
Mugabe’s failure to set the record straight on his retirement plans has fuelled intense infighting in Zanu PF.-Newsday