Robert Mugabe’s wife ‘heir apparent’ after reshuffle
President of Zimbabwe vows to rule until he is 100 as supporters clash over successor
At 93 and having been in power for almost four decades, Robert Mugabe is already one of the longest-serving, not mention oldest, heads of state in the world.
Yet the former freedom fighter turned President of Zimbabwe shows no sign he is ready to throw in the towel.
He has long boasted of his intention to live, and rule, until he is 100 and true to his word has offered himself as the candidate to lead his governing Zanu-PF party in elections next year.
There is little doubt he will win another term as president but given he will be 99 by the time of the next election, “behind the public scenes of loyalty and adulation” an intense power struggle is taking place among his supporters, with different factions, driven by the military and veterans, looking for his endorsement in the battle over his succession, says The Guardian.
The problem, says Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya, is that: “Mugabe wants to die in office and is not interested in seeing his successor.”
The lack of an obvious heir has led to the elevation of Mugabe’s own wife Grace as one of the favourites to succeed him.
Following years out of the limelight, since 2014 Grace Mugabe, 52, has slowly begun to consolidate power and build her own support base. She is secretary of Zanu-PF’s Women’s League and has the active support of the Youth League.
A faction called Generation 40 (G40), a grouping of younger leaders that deliberately draws a distinction with the party’s old guard, has formed around Grace Mugabe.
On Monday, in the latest sign the President is throwing his support behind his wife, he sacked former vice-president and potential leadership challenger Emmerson Mnangagwa as justice minister, in a cabinet reshuffle seen as significantly strengthening Grace Mugabe’s position.
The Guardian says that “with the support of her husband and the power of the state, [she] could easily win the succession battle”.