Succession: Zim VP Mnangagwa 'playing his cards well'

2015-08-31 13:55
Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AFP)

Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AFP)

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Harare – Zimbabwe's vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa could be "subtly" positioning himself as the sole successor to President Robert Mugabe, analysts say, following an interview he held with the London-based New African magazine.

Mnangagwa, who spoke broadly about his past, the liberation struggle and the long years he has spent with Mugabe, seemed to suggest that none of the current leaders of the ruling Zanu-PF party could fill the veteran leader's shoes.

The interview was published in the state-owned Herald newspaper.

"I don't think the next generation will be able to produce a person like him [Mugabe]. I don't think we can get a person even in our generation who can fill his shoes to the extent that he has been able to remain an intellectual giant in leading our people and charting a course for the African people of this region, perhaps even continentally," Mnangagwa said during the interview.

Same vision and intellectual mettle

"But having worked with him for all this time, there are so many cadres who are now solid. But they are not of the same vision, character and intellectual mettle of Mugabe. We shall miss him dearly. He is an outstanding leader and human being."

Mnangagwa said he had benefitted from Mugabe's "clarity of vision" ever since he started working with him in the 1960s.

"But I can say that most of us who have worked together in the last 40 years – in government I can count them on my fingers – the majority were in the army. The current army commanders were very young at the time, and I can guarantee you that there is nobody in the army who is of our generation," the VP said.

Mnangagwa, however, quickly said being a vice president was "not a stepping stone" to becoming president.

He said there was no guarantee he would become the next president.

Following the interview, the minister of higher and tertiary education, Jonathan Moyo, took to social media to challenge Mnangagwa's remarks, saying it was "premature" for the vice president to say Zimbabweans would "miss" Mugabe.

Moyo posted on Twitter:

Moyo went on to say:

Zimbabwean political analysts said Mnangagwa's utterances indicated the vice president harboured presidential ambitions.

According to News Day, analyst Alexander Rusere said Mnangagwa was trying to be diplomatic enough not to state his ambition outright.

"...He [Mnangagwa] is playing his cards well but we know that you don’t just become a vice president to remain vice president. In any field, you aspire to occupy the highest rank."

Analyst and academic Ibbo Mandaza said Mnangagwa was "scared" to show he had presidential interests.

"He is just scared, they are always scared," Mandaza was quoted as saying.

This comes as the issue of succession hits up in Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, with many positioning themselves to take over from the nonagenarian when he finally leaves office.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. Zanu-PF has already endorsed him to stand in the 2018 presidential elections, when he will be 94.

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  jonathan moyo  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  joice mujuru  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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