Makoni roped into Zim succession race

Retired general Solomon Mujuru, believed to be the brains behind the meteoric rise of his spouse Joice to the office of vice-president, has reportedly lined up former finance minister Simba Makoni as a possible successor to President Robert Mugabe.

Zanu-PF insiders said the move followed the realisation by Mujuru and members of his faction that Joice Mujuru had failed to present herself as a political heavyweight capable of stamping her authority on the deeply divided Zanu-PF party.

Sources said Makoni would be presented as an alternative candidate in the event that Emmerson Mnangagwa, another leading contender, emerged as the favourite in the race to succeed Mugabe.

A Harare-based member of the ruling party’s supreme organ, the politburo said: “Since her elevation to the position of vice-president, the state media was instructed to keep the spotlight on Joice to portray her as a rising star but her handlers now fear she lacks the charisma and intellect to lead an organisation like Zanu-PF.”

“Joice has regularly officiated at functions to open fowl runs of all things and in the eyes of the very patriarchal ruling party stalwarts, that is not being ‘serious’,” said the politburo member, who preferred to remain anonymous.

As a result, Mujuru’s faction is now courting Makoni as an alternative candidate, said the sources.

“In Makoni, the general’s faction now sees a lot of advantages including the fact that he obviously has more intellectual stamina than Joice and that in addition to having more connections internationally, he can bring a face of sanity to Zanu-PF,” added the politburo member.

In a recent commentary on the economic and political situation in all African countries, Standard Bank International quoted an extract of the report of the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), which reads: “There’s been a new development in the struggle to succeed Robert Mugabe, with reports that powerful retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru has ditched his wife, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, as his ideal successor and is now opting for former finance minister Simba Makoni.”

Makoni, who has been media-friendly in the past was surprisingly hostile when asked by the Standard to comment on reports on the latest succession developments, saying “I have no response to your questions”.

When asked if he had presidential ambitions he said: “Ndati handina mhinduro [I have no response].”

A source said although Mugabe had encouraged aspirants to openly debate the succession, many were terrified to do so.

“Emmerson Mnangagwa and Thenjiwe Lesabe who aspired to be vice-presidents learnt the hard way in 2004 after they publicly declared their intentions and were subsequently elbowed out of the race although they had more support among the grassroots.”

According to Zanu-PF senior officials, the Mujuru faction is still wary of the challenge posed by Mnangagwa and is pushing for the postponement of the presidential elections while they put their house in order.
‒ The Standard

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