THE international community wants President Robert Mugabe’s successor to bring prolonged stability to Zimbabwe, renowned author and academic Stephen Chan has said.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
The country is mired in a deepening economic crisis characterised by policy inconsistency and worsening poverty. The problems have been exacerbated by factional fights in Zanu PF between a group associated with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the G40 camp which has coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Southern African Political Economy Series dialogue meeting in Harare last week, Chan — a professor of international relations at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies — said stability is the most important requirement by both China and the West.
“The West is so anxious for stability here and so are the Chinese,” Chan said.
“If you ask the Chinese what is the one big thing that should happen in Zimbabwe, they will say they need stability. Anyone who brings stability, whether it is Mnangagwa or someone else, and has the support to ensure that there is stability going forward, that person will be welcomed by both the West and the East.”
On the succession matrix in Zanu PF, Chan said a senior figure in Zanu PF was likely to take over from Mugabe.
“It has got to be somebody who can command the loyalty of the majority in Zanu PF and be able to give sufficient political favours to those who do not like the candidate,” Chan said. “It cannot be a junior person who does not have a trading position.”
He said Mnangagwa appears to be the most viable candidate to succeed Mugabe because of the failure by G40 to find a candidate to contest him. Chan added that this was the reason why the British have spent so much time thinking of Mnangagwa as the potential successor.
“This is why the poor British ambassador (to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing) was accused of favouring Mnangagwa. She wasn’t (supporting Mnangagwa), it was just that she had no other name to report to Whitehall,” Chan said.
The renowned author and academic said should Mugabe retire or be incapacitated “tomorrow” Mnangagwa was likely to take over in the interim. However, said it was difficult to determine who will lead over the long term.
On the prospect of Grace taking over from Mugabe, Chan said there is concern over her lack of leadership experience.
“What we worry about is her lack of experience in terms of running governmental office,” Chan said. “She has never held a ministerial portfolio. What she does not know is that you just cannot command something; the country does not jump to command it has to be run in a very scientific way. (United States President) Donald Trump is learning the hard way in America. If she is elected, she has to learn fast. She may not be fast enough to master the difficulties of running the country.”
On the mooted coalition by opposition parties to contest against Zanu PF in next year’s harmonised election, Chan said their ability to campaign together would determine whether they would appeal to the electorate. He said Britain’s exit from the European Union would result in reduced aid for Zimbabwe as the country provided a significant chunk to the aid money provided by Europe.