Mugabe using senate vote to extend patronage

By Cris Chinaka

Harare – Zimbabwe’s ruling party has nominated veteran politicians as candidates for a controversial senate poll to try to contain a power struggle over President Robert Mugabe’s likely successor, analysts say.

Mugabe ‘s Zanu PF has nurs

ed a simmering feud since last November, when he bulldozed the party into endorsing his choice to fill the vacant post of second vice-president both in the party and in government, a stepping stone to the presidency.

Analysts say Mugabe has tried to manage anger over his imposition of Joyce Mujuru by giving jobs to those who were opposed to his move, and is also using the elections for a new senate to bring opponents in from the cold.

Zanu PF provincial councils have nominated dozens of veteran politicians, including Dzikamai Mavhaire, a senior official once suspended from the party after calling on Mugabe to retire.

“These nominations show Mugabe wants as many of the old guard by his side so he can watch them, and try to manage any wrangles over the succession question,” said Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei of the University of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe shocked the party last year when he appointed Mujuru, a woman from his own ethnic group, as co-vice president instead of Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, a Zanu PF heavyweight long seen as president-in-waiting. Analysts say he ditched Mnangagwa, from the Karanga tribe, because he did not believe anyone outside his Zezuru ethnic group would protect him from possible prosecution for human rights abuses when he steps down, which should be in 2008.

Meanwhile, maize exports from South Africa nearly tripled last week to over 60,000 tonnes due to heavy shipments to Zimbabwe, data showed on Tuesday.

Maize exports totalled 60,498 tonnes for the week to October 14, compared to 21,377 tonnes the previous week, according to the South African Grain Information Service. The bulk of the exports, 45,048 tonnes of white maize, went to Zimbabwe, which is suffering from food shortages along with several other southern African nations.

Earlier this month, the Zimbabwe government said it would have to import 222,000 tonnes of maize to feed around 2.2 million needy people. Aid agencies say around four million people, a third of the population, will need food handouts until the next harvest comes in around next April.

Smaller amounts of white maize went to eight other African countries, with Angola buying 4,817 tonnes and Botswana 4,364 tonnes. Exports of yellow maize, mostly used for animal feed, were little changed at 2,600 tonnes to four neighbouring countries. – Reuter

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