HARARE – United Kingdom-based politics expert, Stephen Chan, says Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is steaming ahead in the nasty Zanu PF race to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The respected professor of international relations at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa was charging ahead because the Zanu PF group which is rabidly opposed to him succeeding Mugabe, the Generation 40 (G40) faction, had no candidate within its ranks to rival him.
The G40, and Mnangagwa allies, Team Lacoste, have been fighting hammer and tongs over the past two years, over who will succeed Mugabe, who turns a mature 93 next month.
Chan said because Mnangagwa was in pole position at the moment, he was attracting significant international attention as the most likely candidate to succeed Mugabe.
“As long as those who oppose Mnangagwa cannot identify and rally around a candidate, he will be the one who attracts international attention.
“All major players, from the Europeans to the Chinese, have dossiers on Mnangagwa, and outline strategies on how to approach dealing with him.
“This is impossible when it comes to the opposing faction (G40). In international terms, therefore, Mnangagwa is ahead by default,” Chan told the Daily News.
Mnangagwa has been under the cosh in recent days for hosting sacked Zanu PF officials at his rural home during the festive season, with his party foes alleging that this was in fact a meeting organised to plot the ouster of Mugabe from power.
Since the images of him holding a coffee mug inscribed with the words “I Am the Boss” emerged in the public domain, Mnangagwa’s foes have also gone to town about the issue, interpreting it as his open statement that he has unbridled presidential ambitions.
But Chan said he saw nothing wrong with Mnangagwa drinking from such a cup.
“This was stupid (the furore over the coffee mug). I myself had a coffee mug with the same words on it. It’s just a personal joke to drink out of such a mug first thing in the morning when the world looks impossible.
“If people are quarrelling about this, it makes policy outlooks even more remote. If the mug had the words, ‘I will print money’ on it, then there would at least have been a debate on fiscal policy,” he quipped.
Since the “Cupgate” saga, Mnangagwa’s allies, particularly a large cross-section of war veterans, have escalated their loud calls for Mugabe to retire and pave the way for his long time aide to take over the reins at both party and government levels.
Expelled former Mashonaland Central youth chairperson, Godfrey Tsenengamu, recently joined this growing chorus by Team Lacoste to have Mnangagwa succeed Mugabe.
Former Cabinet minister and war veterans’ leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, together with his executive, have also stepped up their efforts to force Mugabe to step down, accusing the increasingly frail nonagenarian of being at the centre of the country’s rot.
Businessman-cum-politician, and an avowed Mnangagwa loyalist, Energy Mutodi, has also vented along similar lines, imploring Zanu PF to hold an extraordinary congress to choose Mugabe’s successor.
He claimed that Mugabe had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that “99 percent” of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way that the nonagenarian could win elections against popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
And like Tsenengamu, Mutodi and Mutsvangwa, former Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland West province, Temba Mliswa, has also recently suggested that Mugabe should hand over power to Mnangagwa, as the ruling party’s deadly tribal, factional and succession wars burn ever hotter.
Mugabe has studiously refused to name a successor, arguing that his party should rather follow what he sees as a more democratic process, to manage his succession via a congress.