HARARE – Zimbabwe’s strongman, and one of the world’s oldest leaders, President Robert Mugabe is finally ready to call it a day in politics, amid reports that he has indicated his own willingness to vacate from office, to his hardline military chiefs.
Although Mugabe has been putting up a brave face in public and International television interviews, claiming to still be able to pack a 90-tonne punch against his opponents, increasing health woes and “serious” family matters have forced him to reveal his departure date.
The serious family issue, we gather has to do with a prophesy about the death of his wife, Grace Mugabe, which was first published by this publication in January. Officials at the President’s Office appear to have stomached enough courage to relay the message to the Mugabes, as witnessed by numerous calls in the past week, enquiring about the matter to a representative of the Zimbabwean minister who made the prophesy in Germany, called Pastor Thomas Ackah-Quarm. The Pastor told The Telescope News, that: “I have received many calls from Harare about the matter. Some are calling from South Africa and Britain. People might have thought it to be a joke at first, but they can see for themselves that the first lady is losing weight. Something is not right.”
A Zanu-PF politburo member, who also sits on the Joint Operations Command (JOC), confirmed Mugabe’s departure date as August 2015, and that the ailing leader prefers a transfer of power to a successor of his choice. Mugabe is said to have already named three possible candidates, but the army is insisting on elevating former defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with whom they have a close relationship with. The military bigwigs want Mugabe’s chosen candidate to “deputise” Mnangagwa instead.
“The succession story has been very mysterious and confusing,” said the senior party official. “However, I can confirm to you that Mugabe is leaving in August next year. The President has held two meetings with the security services bosses, one in January and the other, just early this month. The January meeting was when he (Mugabe) issued a timeline for his departure as no later than December 2015, but his health is failing, especially cataract complications with his right eye. This has prompted him to give a definitive date, and he did so this month.”
“An exit plan has been completed, and off course the first family’s business interests, will be protected. Details of his golden handshake are not so important, what the military wants is continuity of the status quo under a capable and hawkish leader. Mugabe has named Gideon Gono and Sydney Sekeramayi as potential leaders, alongside Simba Makoni, and that is if he is re-admitted into the party and publicly apologises for rebelling.”
The Telescope News claims it gathers that VP Joice Mujuru’s faction is also attempting to bring Makoni back, and that he might be re-admitted during the party’s December congress. The Mujuru faction, is also reportedly pushing for Gono to be railroaded into Senate, and subsequently earn a cabinet post, as minister of finance, but her rivals from the Mnangagwa camp are casting concrete on all her plans.
This publication has reported about Mujuru being dislodged by Mnangagwa, in the race to succeed Mugabe, in what her faction views as a “coup” and rebelling against Zanu-PF’s constitution, which places her in line to replace Mugabe. Although some sections of the local press, have seen our reporting, as “sensational”, disclosures by the Mujuru faction about people planning a coup, to force themselves into taking over from Mugabe confirm our succession stories, as largely not being off the mark.
“Those who don’t acknowledge the existing party structure are sell-outs,” Mujuru recently said without mentioning names, while addressing a Zanu-PF Women’s meeting in Mutare’s Marymount. “Don’t lie to people that it is a faction. Please come out in the open that you have rebelled. Please give us reference of what you are saying in the party’s constitution. President Mugabe is still in charge. Ko iwe unoda kukwira pamusoro ko pauri wambogona here? (Why do you want a top post, and have you succeeded in your current office?) What are you going to do with the current leader? Please let the people decide?”.
Presidential affairs minister, Didymus Mutasa, who is believed to be a close Mujuru ally, backed Mujuru as he was also in attendance, describing those opposed to Mujuru’s ascendency as “mischievous party members”.
Mugabe’s returning spin-doctor, Jonathan Moyo, has dismissed reports that Mugabe’s health is failing, saying he could even read without his glasses, thus confirming he did not have eye problems. Mugabe himself is always saying he is “fit as a fiddle”, and still has strength to go on as head of state.
Gono’s chances of replacing Mugabe are very remote, said our sources. They have attributed his political misfortunes, to an alleged fall-out with the army generals, who had initially supported him during his tenure, as central bank chief, but the relationship allegedly deteriorated after Gono’s former advisor, Munyaradzi Kereke, started spilling beans about financial secrets and activity on Gono, which could hurt the security services strongmen interests. Mugabe has tried to bring Gono back in the fold, and has toured his chicken farm in Norton, as symbolic support for his personal banker, but all appears to be in vain, as Zanu-PF hardliners are closing the doors on Gono.
Makoni is also not in a better position. “Mugabe really was about to pave way for Makoni at one time, but Makoni was impatient,” an intelligence source said. “He was supposed to wait, and perservere, but he was enticed into making bad political decisions. The whole coalition government was his idea, but he did not get any post in that government. Imagine if he had called on for a unity government from within Zanu-PF, he could have become a deputy prime minister in place of MDC-T’s Khupe. Manje akairasa (He lost the plot).”
Mugabe tore into Makoni during his birthday interview in February, describing his MKD party as “foolish”, and ill-advised. “Did the people admire him?” Mugabe said sarcastically on tape. “He thought he could stand there and make the whole population of Zimbabwe as his party. They would vote for him to win, then select the people he wants to work with from other parties. That was his strategy. It doesn’t work here.”
Many Zanu-PF officials who spoke to The Telescope News this week, said they believe, the country is likely to descend into chaos should the first lady pass away ahead of Robert Nehanda Kaguvi Mugabe.
“Let me not pretend, that most of us in Zanu-PF are not talking about this shock prophesy. If this happens, we are back to square one, because it will force Gushungo (Mugabe’s totem) to step down even this year kana zvikaitika (if the first lady is to die). We need prayer in this country,” said one of the officials based at the party headquarters in the capital.
Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba’s mobile phone went unanswered last night, when we sought a comment.