VICE-PRESIDENT Joseph Msika has dismissed reports that he will retire at the forthcoming Zanu PF congress scheduled for the first week of December.
In a new twist to the ruling party’s dramatic succession race, Msika said the reports were baseless because “it depends on what the people say”.
“I don’t elect myself, I’m elected by the people. I don’t put myself in there,” he said.
“Nxa umuntu engasafuni umsebenzi uyazikhulumela yena, kakhulunyelwa njengenkomo yo-mdaka (If someone no longer wants a job, he speaks for himself).”
There has been strong speculation that Msika could retire to pave way for Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo in the scramble to succeed President Robert Mugabe. Nkomo is widely seen as one of the candidates likely to move up in any changes at the apex of power.
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira, who has dubbed the coming congress a “watershed”, suggested in April Nkomo and secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa were frontrunners in the Mugabe succession race.
Shamuyarira also hinted that Mugabe could clarify his future at the congress. He said if Mugabe left immediately, Msika would automatically step in, whereas if he were to leave after an advance announcement, Nkomo or Mnangagwa could take over.
Nkomo defeated Mnangagwa for the position of national chairman at the 1999 congress. Mugabe, who claimed some of his lieutenants were hunting for lucky charms to enhance their chances, has said he will retire in 2008 when his current term of office expires. But most observers have said he is likely to go earlier.
Sources said the agenda for the Zanu PF congress has already been compiled and it includes the usual themes of land, the economy, corruption, international relations and elections. However, the meeting could be largely dominated by behind-the-scenes manoeuvres for power.
Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption minister Didymus Mutasa, also involved in the escalating succession battle, said yesterday he is still strongly in the running for the vacant post of Zanu PF vice-president despite current allegations of violence levelled against him.
Mutasa, also Makoni North MP, said he would contest for the position.
“I’m still very interested. I haven’t changed my mind at all. I want to run for the position,” Mutasa said.
“I believe people in my province will support me. I may not have the support of certain individuals but I have the support of the people who matter.”
Mutasa, the ruling party’s external affairs secretary, said his prospects of becoming vice-president would not be sabotaged by “false reports” of violence.
“People in Zanu PF are more mature than those elements with dirty hands planting stories about me in the Sunday Mail. The smear campaign against me will fail. After all, in politics any publicity is good publicity!”