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Party sources who spoke to The Zimbabwean said word had filtered down from the politburo that party structures were free to discuss President Robert Mugabe’s succession.
“What we heard is that the subject of succession was mentioned at a recent politburo meeting after the president asked why people were quiet about it and indicated that he would be happy to hear the party discuss it.
“I am told that when he set up the issue following some talk on the ongoing disciplinary action against the (Joice) Mujuru camp, no-one dared make contributions. However, word is swelling that the succession can be discussed even though this is not yet formal,” said a senior central committee member.
The central committee is Zanu-PF’s highest decision making body comprising members from all the provinces, but the politburo can come up with positions on its behalf. Since late last year, Zanu-PF has expelled scores of powerful members from its ranks while others have been suspended for supporting Joice Mujuru, Mugabe’s former deputy who was removed at congress.
“Many people think it’s a trap, so they have vowed not to openly discuss the president’s succession. In any case, it doesn’t make sense to do so because it seems the old man is bent on ruling until he dies,” said the central committee member.
Last year, the central committee made a resolution to ensure that there was one centre of power in the party following allegations of the plot to unseat the 91-year-old president.
“It is not as though people are happy with the president continuing as the party and national leader. In fact, there is a growing feeling that he must give way to fresh blood, but nobody will discuss it. It’s suicidal,” added the source.
Another senior member said the suggestion by Mugabe that his succession should be debated openly could be designed to flush out remaining Mujuru sympathisers. “It is very easy to be labelled Gamatox if you bring up the subject of succession. History shows that those that dared do so did not last,” said the second source. “I don’t see anyone in the party structures having the guts to discuss the hot topic even if adverts were to be flighted.”
“Gamatox” is a derisive term used to describe people who sympathise with Mujuru, among them former party administration secretary, Didymus Mutasa, ex-information secretary, Rugare Gumbo and numerous others who have been shown the door.
Mugabe’s two deputies, Mnangagwa and Phekezela Mphoko, are reported to also be mum about the succession issue.
At the 2006 Zanu-PF conference in Goromonzi just outside Harare, the central committee resolved that there must be open debate on Mugabe’s successor. Feeble attempts were made to discuss it openly but there was an order to stop it, with politburo members pointing out that it was causing divisions in the party.
Top Zanu-PF members who have in the past openly called on Mugabe to go have been persecuted by the party. These include the late Eddison Zvobgo, Edgar Tekere, Dzikamai Mavhaire and Margaret Dongo.
Other frustrated senior members like Dumiso Dabengwa and Simba Makoni broke away in 2008, but their political formations have failed to make much impact.
Mugabe has been at the helm of the party since the late 1970s when he led the then Zanu’s guerilla war campaign against apartheid Rhodesia led by Ian Smith. His long stay has been sustained by a complex intelligence web that advises him on threats to his power.
A young cabal of Zanu-PF heavies calling itself G40 (Generation 40) and reportedly fronted by information minister, Jonathan Moyo, and Saviour Kasukuwere is said to be gunning for the ouster of the old clique.
Mugabe is still likely to stand as the party’s presidential candidate in 2018 even though reports indicate remote chances that he could hand over the baton to Mnangagwa. Source: zimbabwean