HARARE – The dramatic dismissal of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the presidium may have been prompted by President Mugabe’s mounting health issues amid unconfirmed reports he has two months to live.
President Mugabe on Monday fired his deputy and expelled him from his party as the battle to succeed him intensified with his wife Grace looking more likely the automatic choice for Vice President.
A source within the President’s inner circle last night revealed a Malaysian urologist has told the first family that the longstanding despote not live more than a month now due to the advance stage of his prostate cancer.
This was also corroborated by sources by senior sources in President Mugabe’s close security who said the move to sack VP Mnangagwa was prompted by President Mugabe’s rapidly deteriorating health.
“The president’s Malaysian urologist and Chinese doctors have informed the First Lady that the president is unlikely to live for more than a month due to mounting complications from his long standing prostate cancer,” reads the details leaked.
“The cocktail of medications that have been administered to Mugabe over a long period of time and they are now having less and less effect and causing side effects of the cancer such as fluid retention and decreased lung capacity. This is believed to likley causes “organs failure” within weeks if not days.
Mugabe has prostate cancer and was told by doctors in 2008 that the disease could rapidly turn for the worst, leaked US diplomatic cables reveals.
Mr Mugabe’s battle with the disease was revealed to James McGee, the former US Ambassador to Harare, by Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, during a private meeting in June 2008.
It is believed that before his rally at Bulawayo’s White City Stadium on Saturday, Mugabe’s medical team were concerned that the dosage of medication required to put the president on his feet might prove fatal. On Sunday Mugabe failed to attend the Church star rally hosted by his wife and sources said doctors where attending him at home.
Mugabe said to have urged his wife Grace to seize the moment and make the long-awaited strike against Mnangagwa before the VP had time to do the same to her and the children.”The president is said to fear a situation in which he dies with Mnangagwa in a de facto position to take the presidency. He is believed to have advised the first lady to “kill” Mnangagwa “before he kills us”. He also instructed the first lady that the head of the Defence Forces, Constantine Chiwenga, was “a long standing coward who will salute anybody who will win”, so the key element was to “ensure that he salutes you first and not Mnangagwa” reads the details.
At 93, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is the oldest head of state in the world. But he’s not letting age slow him down. He is running again in next year’s elections. But his wife, Grace, 52, is positioning herself to succeed him in the event of his death.
Mugabe has run the country since it won independence from Great Britain in 1980. Before that, he led a long and bloody guerrilla war against the country’s white settler regime.
“He is a very astute politician,” says Andrew Meldrum, assistant Africa editor for the Associated Press. “He is a wily politician. He has out-maneuvered everybody within Zimbabwe, and around Africa, and even internationally.”
He has held onto power with a degree of ruthlessness. Enemies have been jailed or killed. Even allies aren’t allowed to build up any power. Meldrum himself was jailed and expelled from the country after reporting on torture.
“There have been vice presidents, but it’s a very perilous position to be in,” says Meldrum. “So the vice presidents are either elbowed aside or a trapdoor opens and they disappear.”
The latest example is Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled into exile this week after being denounced by the Mugabes. Mnangagwa had been in the cabinet since independence, and was known for being extremely loyal. He says he now fears for his life.
Grace Mugabe is more than 40 years younger than her husband. She was a receptionist when they met and began an affair. They had children together, before Mugabe’s first wife died.
In the last few years, Grace Mugabe has developed political ambitions, and started honing her political skills. She’s taken over the Women’s League of the ruling ZANU-PF party. She’s held rallies across the country, but “she is not widely popular,” according to Meldrum’s analysis. “She was originally known as ‘Gucci Grace’ among some people for her shopping trips overseas.”
“She has taken on a more political role,” he adds, “and she does distribute charity donations of clothes and food in rural areas. So she knows what needs to be done to gain popularity.”
Grace Mugabe has also weathered scandals, including separate assault charges in South Africa and Hong Kong. She was able to avoid prosecution by asserting diplomatic immunity.
She has spoken openly of her ability to become vice president and succeed her husband, in the event of his death.
When asked about creating a dynasty, she says, “Why not?”