No vacancy for president, Mujuru told

A PEEVED President Robert Mugabe sent a senior politburo member to “advise” Vice-President Joice Mujuru that there is no vacancy for the Zanu PF presidency as the succession race intensifies ahead of Zanu PF’s December congress, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

Elias Mambo/Herbert Moyo

Highly-placed Zanu PF officials said Mugabe took the pre-emptive action because he was exasperated by Mujuru who is said to be eyeing the top post in the event that Mugabe resigns or is incapacitated.

“The President (Mugabe) sent a confidant to tell Mujuru that he is still in charge and she should not campaign for the presidency because he (Mugabe) has no intention of relinquishing the presidency at congress,” said one party official, adding: “She was advised that there is no vacancy for the top post and therefore she should campaign for the vice-presidency or any other post.”
The sources further claimed that although Mujuru appeared to heed the message, she went on to tell members of her faction to go ahead with their campaign plans.

The succession debate is threatening to rip Zanu PF apart with Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said to be leading factions angling to succeed Mugabe, who, at 90, is battling eye and knee problems, and other undisclosed ailments. Mnangagwa and Mujuru have strenuously denied harbouring presidential ambitions or leading factions, insisting they are loyal to Mugabe.

Recently, Mugabe said the people would decide his successor when the time comes.

While addressing members of the Gushungo clan at Murombedzi Growth point in Zvimba, Mugabe said: “Izvi tirikutaura nekuti kumaprovince akawanda kwanga kune nyaya iyoyo yekudhivhaidhana kuti vamwe varikunzi ndevaMai Mujuru pane zvesuccession, vamwe ndevaminister Mnangagwa vachinzi ndovaviri varikuda kuzotora chigaro chaPresident kana varitaya (Mnangagwa and Mujuru are not the only candidates to succeed me; in many provinces we hear of divisions along factional lines under these two).

“Vanhu vanosarudza vavanoda. Handi vaviri ivava chete. (People are free to choose any other person they think is the best candidate besides these two).”

The sources said the subsequent endorsement of Mugabe by his home district of Zvimba was also part of the strategy to pre-empt any subsequent attempts to challenge his position.

Last month, Zanu PF’s Zvimba district comprising legislators Ignatius Chombo, Walter Chidhakwa, Ziyambi Ziyambi as well as chiefs endorsed Mugabe in a move meant to set the tone for other districts and provinces to follow suit.

“The thunderous victory in last year’s harmonised elections was testimony that the people enjoyed President Mugabe’s leadership on a variety of issues,” Chombo is reported to have said at the Zvimba meeting.

“He deserves to rule the country for more years. Since he was elected President of Zimbabwe, we cannot have another person to lead Zanu PF.

“Mugabe must continue to head both the party and government.”