Mu­gabe says party will choose suc­ces­sor

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - AFRICA - MACDON­ALD DZIRUTWE

CHIN­HOYI, Zim­babwe: Zim­babwe’s 89- year- old Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe said mem­bers of his party would choose his even­tual re­place­ment but gave no time­line, de­spite a mount­ing suc­ces­sion bat­tle trig­gered by long­de­nied re­ports he has can­cer.

Mu­gabe, in power since the for­mer white- ruled Rhode­sia’s in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1980, was re-elected in a July 31 vote that was re­jected by his ri­vals as fraud­u­lent but largely en­dorsed by African ob­servers as free and cred­i­ble.

Ad­dress­ing a Zanu-PF cen­tral com­mit­tee meet­ing yes­ter­day be­fore the party’s an­nual con­fer­ence, Africa’s old­est leader de­nounced the in­creased jock­ey­ing be­tween party fac­tions to suc­ceed him.

With­out nam­ing any of the heads of the fac­tions, Mu­gabe said the party’s lead­er­ship would be de­ter­mined by or­di­nary mem­bers at a congress.

“So, let us hear our peo­ple. They, af­ter all, will in the end de­cide on who will be needed and who will not. Ev­ery one of them mat­ters,” he said.

“We can­not build a united party when we di­vide peo­ple into camps of those who be­long to soand-so and those who be­long to so- and- so. They be­long to the party,” he added.

Crit­ics say Mu­gabe has ma­noeu­vred him­self into a po­si­tion of vir­tual life pres­i­dent by play­ing fac­tions against each other. There are fears Zanu-PF could im­plode in a vi­o­lent strug­gle if his of­fice be­comes va­cant be­fore the suc­ces­sion ques­tion is re­solved.

An­a­lysts say Mu­gabe’s deputy Joice Mu­juru se­cured an edge in the race for his post af­ter her sup­port­ers won most of the pro­vin­cial elec­tions in the last few months.

Her main ri­val is widely seen as Jus­tice Min­is­ter Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, known as Ng­wena (the croc­o­dile).

De­fence Min­is­ter Syd­ney Sek­era­mayi is also reg­u­larly listed among the con­tenders.

Mu­gabe has de­nied re­ports in the lo­cal me­dia he has been re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for prostate can­cer in Sin­ga­pore over the past few years.

In his 90- minute ad­dress yes­ter­day, Mu­gabe said the party’s fu­ture would de­pend on ful­fill­ing its elec­toral prom­ises to re­build the econ­omy.

Zim­babwe is strug­gling to right its econ­omy, which shrank by 45 per­cent dur­ing a decade­long eco­nomic cri­sis up to 2009.

It is ex­pected to grow 3.4 per­cent this year, a sig­nif­i­cant slow­down from the near dou­ble-digit ex­pan­sion it en­joyed af­ter the gov­ern­ment scrapped the worth­less Zim­babwe dol­lar in 2009.

The coun­try des­per­ately needs for­eign in­vest­ment and aid to cre­ate jobs and re­vamp in­fra­struc­ture but sanc­tions im­posed on Mu­gabe and other top of­fi­cials have put off many donors.

Yes­ter­day, Mu­gabe said Zim­babwe would grow its econ­omy through Zanu-PF’s black em­pow­er­ment pro­gramme, which forces for­eign-owned com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing mines, to sell ma­jor­ity stakes to lo­cals.

“We should not make any apol­ogy over this pol­icy be­cause th­ese are our re­sources.” – Reuters

PIC­TURE: AP

GET­TING ON: Zimbabwean Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe in­spects the guard of hon­our dur­ing the open­ing of the first ses­sion of the eighth par­lia­ment of Zim­babwe in Harare in Septem­ber.

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