In a shocking development to President Robert Mugabe’s succession political plate tectonics, the veteran nonagenarian is reportedly set to name his wife, First lady Grace, as his successor some time next year, as the country desecends into a Mugabe dynasty, Spotlight Zimbabwe reported.
The publication claims to have gathered this information from some senior ruling party officials.
The hard to swallow disclosures, come at a time when the ruling Zanu PF succession wars are now at a zenith, following vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s poisoning scare last week, which saw his health condition virtually becoming an emergency military operation, after he was flown to South Africa for urgent treatment and examination from Manyame Airbase. Harare was plunged into disbelief and panic mode as many feared for Mnangagwa’s life, with his top ally, Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, making the swift intervention to have Mnangagwa rushed to Johannesburg.
As first revealed by Spotlight Zimbabwe last year in March, it is however more likely for Mnangagwa to become the next president, while Chiwenga, is set to become Vice President of Zimbabwe, thus becoming the first highest ranking military chief in the country’s history, to assume the second most powerful office in the land, after his predecessor, the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, came within a whisker of taking up the same office in 2004 following the death of VP Simon Muzenda, in a thrilling grand political plan that has been brewing since 2008, reportedly mooted and involving former Ethiopian leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam now exiled in Zimbabwe after receiving asylum in 1991, who is said to be the brainchild of the scheme, as a hired national security consultant of the military.
Mugabe, the party officials say, intends to hand over the reins of power to Grace soon after securing a fresh five year term, if he wins the watershed 2018 presidential elections, as the Zanu PF strongman is said to be convinced that a military putsch is still possible, and could be executed in a “bloodless manner”. Mugabe came out, with his guns blazing against the military last month, accusing them of interfering in politics and that their involvement was tantamount to “a coup”.
“The military has no right you know, to be interfering with the political processes,” Mugabe told a meeting of his party’s Women’s League.
Government sources with intimate knowledge about the new developments also said Mugabe, almost came within a whisker of firing his top generals by not extending their expired contracts, which he has recently mysteriously only extended for a short span. The veteran leader in early 2016 made it no secret his security chiefs, including Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Prisons Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi, were now serving at his mercy after their original contracts expired.
“The non renewal of their (security bosses) contracts, was going to ease them out of their very powerful positions,” a senior army officer who preferred anonymity said this week. “Their incumbency is seen as a stumbling block to the First Lady’s elevation to higher office. There was a time we almost thought the current security brass would go, following the bombing attempt on Gushungo Dairy, an incident which infuriated the president’s wife and she wanted the leadership to be brought to account, because of fears of a potential coup.”
It is also coming to light for the first time, that the mention of defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, as a possible hier apparent to the State House throne, was just but a designed illusion and diversionary tactic by the first lady’s strategists inside the G40 faction, now openly battling it out with Team Lacoste said to be canvassing for Mnangagwa’s presidency at all costs.
Sekeramayi’s candidacy to replace Mugabe had gained currency in recent months, yet as we now learn, it is all wool being pulled over the eyes of the first lady’s foes in Zanu PF, especially the Mnangagwa camp.
This publication has also been told that the current impasse between Mugabe and his security chiefs, could have been as a result of the security bosses catching wind of the “Grace power grab plot”, thus igniting suspicions of a coup by Mugabe, who has already been reportedly warned by the intelligence machinery that, a Grace succession will be resisted and likely cause political violence and instability in the country.
“The plot to have the first lady become president, was schemed as far back as early 2014,” the senior ruling party officials said. “President Mugabe felt betrayed by former vice president, Joice Mujuru, who was accused of working with the U.S and opposition behind the scenes to bring a new Zimbabwe order. Obviously many people failed to read deeper into those ‘Meet The People’ countrywide rallies for Amai (Grace). It was not about just ousting and decampaigning Mujuru, but laying the ground for her own campaign to lead this country. As matters stand, the president is a heartbeat away from naming the first lady as her successor, and that is likely to be next year after he wins the 2018 elections. The first lady has already said the president’s word on his chosen successor is going to be final, so you just have to do your homewok and it’s not hard to tell what she meant by that.”
Last month Grace told a ruling party Women’s gathering that there is no succession that can take place without Mugabe’s input, urging him to follow the path of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, who named Thabo Mbeki, then his deputy to succeed him.
“There is no succession that takes place without the involvement of Mugabe; there is none!” said Grace. “He has a say as a citizen of this country. I know the President has always said ‘no, no, no, I don’t want to impose any candidate’. But I have always argued with him that ‘you have a role, you have the right to be part of that process’, to say who will take over when you leave President because we respect him. So, his word will be final. Mark my words, his word will be final. I am asking him now in front of you. How come in some country, people like (late South African President Nelson) Mandela left (former President Thabo) Mbeki and in other countries, we hear their presidents leave so and so. President, don’t be afraid. Just tell who you want us to support.”
Mugabe’s spokesman and press secretary, George Charamba, was not reachable on his mobile phone yesterday for comment.
Zanu PF youth leader, Kudzai Chipanga, has given a hint on Grace’s planned succession and presidency, telling a private daily in the capital that the youths have no problem in supporting a woman for the position of president.
“It is not secret that the youth league and the women’s league work closely together, hence we will have no problem with supporting a woman to any position in the party, including the presidency, as long as it is done according to the dictates of the Zanu PF constitution — and like I have said, that person must carry the name Mugabe. By the way, it (Zanu PF’s constitution) does not bar women from contesting. Our point is that we prefer to go into any election riding on the back of the Mugabe brand. It does us good to have the name Mugabe on the ballot paper,” Chipanga is quoted saying.