ZIMBABWE – Harare – The oldest members of the ruling Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe reportedly want President Robert Mugabe, 91, to remain in office because they fear being sidelined by the younger generation if he leaves.
This is despite the fact that Mugabe continues to make blunders which the opposition says is a sign the veteran leader is “too old” to continue leading Zimbabwe.
Mugabe made headlines recently after he read the wrong speech at the opening of Parliament without realising he had delivered the same address a few weeks earlier.
According to a Bloomberg report, Zanu-PF’s old guard would rather continue to have the nonagenarian leading the country than risk losing control to the younger generation.
The report said three members of the decision-making body of the ruling party admitted that they would rather not have the veteran leader ousted, even as Zimbabwe’s economy collapses.
“While frustrated by his resistance to changes needed to rescue the economy, they’re concerned that if pushed out of office he would place allies, including his wife and younger politicians, at the head of government, sidelining them,” the report said.
This comes as succession battles continue to rock Mugabe’s party, with a number of individuals positioning themselves to succeed the
“Mugabe is heading a faction within Zanu-PF that is pushing for Grace to take over, but facing strong resistance from several other factions,” senior southern African researcher at Human Rights Watch Dewa Mavhinga was quoted as saying.
The report said Grace was currently seen as the torchbearer of the ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 faction, which comprises, among others, Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao and Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
The group is engaged in a bitter fight with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp, the report said.
But Bloomberg said for Grace to take over and become the next leader, she must win over the military, a task complicated by the fact that she has no struggle credentials.
Grace entered into mainstream politics last year after she was confirmed as the women’s league boss.
The first lady’s rapid ascent to the head of Zanu-PF Women’s League and her promotion to the party’s politburo fuelled speculation that she was aiming high.
Last October she told supporters at a rally in southern Zimbabwe that she was “seeing a higher post” and that she had been quietly mentored by her husband over the years.
But, in an interview with the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper in August, she said she was not interested in politics and that she did not have an ambition to run for presidency.