Harare — PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is likely to hold onto power if he wins the presidential election contrary to belief that he would retire, while for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the polls would be a do-or-die affair as he is likely to be nudged off the helm of MDC-T if he loses again, analysts say.
There has been speculation that Mugabe (89) wants to secure victory for Zanu PF and retire, leaving his party in power while others believe he may take a back seat and assume a ceremonial role with his preferred successor exercising the main executive functions.
Effie Ncube, a political analyst and chairperson of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango), said Mugabe was most probably eyeing the life presidency.
“The most likely scenario is that Mugabe would prefer to die in office,” said Ncube. “He is unlikely to leave power in the hands of any of his subordinates such as (Vice-President Joice) Mujuru or (Defence minister Emmerson) Mnangagwa because he does not trust anyone.
“As long as he is physically able to function, we won’t see him relinquishing power unless he becomes incapacitated. He would probably want to use his term to salvage some of his legacy by introducing some democratic reforms and so on.”
Professor Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, also believes Mugabe would exercise his full executive functions for his whole term, barring incapacitation or death.
“He may be compelled by his fragile health and age to retreat from State House to his private residence, but he would not pass on the baton to anyone,” said Masunungure.
“His health may force him to shed some of his executive functions but, even then, he would retain the position of executive president and pull strings on strategic policy matters. He would want to complete his term unless some dramatic circumstances occur to stop him from achieving that goal.”
Masunungure said dating back to the days of the liberation struggle, Mugabe has learnt to be wary of those around him. “Right now because of internal power politics in Zanu PF, he cannot trust the political gladiators around him. For that reason he will not resign,” he said.