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Tekere roped!into succession battle

Dumisani Muleya

MANICALAND political heavyweights have roped in former Zanu PF secretary-general and political firebrand Edgar Tekere to beef up their bid for President Robert Mugabe’s p

ost ahead of the party’s Masvingo conference in December.

Manicaland’s provincial executive committee has been working flat out to recruit Tekere to bolster its efforts to provide an heir to Mugabe from the region. Their focus is on both the presidency and vice-presidency. Although Tekere is not himself expected to stand, his experience and pulling power could prove crucial.

Former Finance minister Simba Makoni, Zanu PF secretary for ex-ternal affairs Didymus Mutasa, andprovincial governor Oppah Muchi-nguri are all being touted as Ma-nicaland’s candidates for high office.

Makoni is earmarked for presi-dent, while both Mutasa and Mu-chinguri have set their eyes on the vice-presidency if Makoni fails.

They have the support of regional bigwigs like Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa and MPs Kenneth Manyonda and Saviour Kasukuwere, who is close to Tekere.

Efforts to recruit Tekere have been underway for some time. A delegation led by provincial party chair Mark Madiro, which included Victoria Chitepo, Munacho Mutezo, Shadreck Chipanga, Freddy Kanzama, and Robert Gumbo, met Tekere in Mutare on May 30 to officially invite him back.

Follow-up meetings have been held since.

It is understood Zanu PF heavyweights like Nathan Shamuyarira were initially opposed to Tekere’s return arguing he was a renegade. But they later changed their minds after being reminded that there were a number of one-time defectors in the party.

Tekere told the Zimbabwe Independent this week he was keen to bounce back into Zanu PF which he described as “my party”. Although Mutasa last week announced Tekere had been readmitted, the volatile maverick said it was not yet official.

“I want to go back to my party. I say my party because I was one of the founder members of Zanu PF. The party was formed in Gweru where other nationalists and I had created a solid powerbase. Its first congress was held in Munhumutapa Hall in Gweru and I eventually became its chairman in the area,” Tekere said.

“Zanu PF flows in my blood and it’s my natural home.”

On the Masvingo conference that could provide fireworks over the Mugabe succession, Tekere said he was waiting for the opportune moment to start ceing ac1ively involved.j

“After consulting, being properly briefed, reorienting or, if you like, rehabilitating myself, I will plunge headlong into those issuus,” he said. “T`ese are$matters I would like to!participate in at meetings, behind the scenes and everywhere.”

Zanu PF cliques are meanwhile busy consolidating their positions aheadwof the ruling party’s Mesvingo aonference to caeapult their chosen candidates to power. Zanu PF chair John Nkomo, secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Defence minister(Sydney Gekeramayi are said to be workinc with select co6eries of followers ahead of the conference.

Members of the recently disbanded succession committee are also said to be working on the issug, althoegh less-openly. While tye succession issue may be successfully suppressed on the official agenda its looming presence will be seen in stances taken and resolutions adopted.

Jormer army comm`nder General So&omon Mujuru, retired Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai and politburo heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa are said to be working together. The three want to block M~angagwaqs rise to powern Mnangafwa is considered Mugabe#s anointed successor.

Reports of intensifying power struggles in Zanu PF come as South African President Thabo Mbeki’s office maintained ther- would “e a solution todthe current Zimrabwe crisis by June next year, the deadline set by Mbeki.

Mbeki’s spokesman Bheki Khumalo said this week: “We don’t see any reason why the$June decdline c!nnot be met.”

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