Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's succession maze has reached a crescendo, with his nephew revealing that "swords are now out" for the nonagenarian’s deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who allegedly wants to take over from the veteran leader.
Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, who also doubled as the southern African country’s youth and indigenisation minister, charged that the vice president’s allies were misleading the nation that Mnangagwa was going to be Mugabe’s successor.
Zhuwao, who reportedly belonged to a faction of the ruling Zanu-PF party calling itself "Generation 40" and made up of Young Turks that were loyal to First Lady Grace Mugabe, told a local weekly newspaper, The Standard, that Grace’s recent outbursts were meant to stop Mnangagwa from taking over from Mugabe.
Mnangagwa was linked to another faction calling itself "Team Lacoste".
'It's a total fabrication'
"I think this (sentiments among Mnangagwa’s supporters that the deputy president was now certain to be Zimbabwe’s next head of state) has come about as a result of a rather unfortunate whisper campaign that has been waged by Team Lacoste where they go about lying that the president has indicated that he wants to leave his throne to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which is not true," the report quoted Zhuwao as saying.
"That is false and it has become very difficult for any ordinary person to ask the president if the information being peddled regarding his successor is true."
Zhuwao said Zanu-PF politicians, in apparent reference to Mnangagwa should stop abusing Mugabe's name "lying that you are the preferred candidate".
"The unfortunate part is that a narrative that has been pushed by Team Lacoste is that, the president wants VP Mnangagwa when it's a total fabrication. Let us stop lying using the president that he wants so and so, no! ….We are heading to a situation where we are now eliminating command lies. We are heading for a situation where we must now focus on ensuring that we preserve that legacy of the liberation struggle," added Zhuwao.
'Hanging by a thread'
Mnangagwa has over the years publicly denied that he was harbouring presidential ambitions. However, Zanu-PF insiders said Generation 40 was plotting to use Mugabe’s next youth rally in Gwanda to hit the final nail on Team Lacoste. This, they said, was meant to ensure that when Mugabe finished his nationwide rallies in the next few months, Mnangagwa’s presidential aspirations would be hanging by a thread.
Mugabe’s wife upped the tempo at a rally held last week in Chinhoyi, about 100km west of the capital Harare, when she told ruling party supporters that both the country's two deputy presidents were serving at her husband's will and could be replaced if they did not perform to his expectations.
Grace had earlier called on Mugabe to anoint a successor adding that the nonagenarian should also consider appointing a woman as his deputy – fuelling speculation that Grace herself was planning to succeed her ageing husband.
For his part, Mugabe, who has been denouncing factionalism within his party at all his campaign rallies, said he was not going anywhere anytime soon.