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Monday, July 27, 2009

Mugabe’s endorsement as supreme leader closes succession debate

Zimbabwe’s leader, Robert Mugabe has been endorsed by his party Zanu PF as the Supreme leader in a move that has dashed hope of him retiring soon. The declaration puts him at par with Iranian’s Ayatollah Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Zanu-PF Midlands Province Coordinating Committee made the shocking resolution at the weekend.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu-PF Secretary for Legal Affairs said as a province they agreed that they are satisfied and committed to the leadership of Mugabe who is also the Party’s First Secretary. Mnangagwa has for long been rumoured to be harboring presidential hopes.

In May Zanu PF politburo, the party’s highest decision-making organ, set up a committee to look into the emotive issue of choosing new leaders and that was seen as the clearest sign yet that the party could finally open debate on the election of a successor for the 85-year-old leader. But the weekend statements seem to have closed the succession debate.

The issue of selecting Mugabe’s successor has threatened to split Zimbabwe’s former ruling party amid behind-the-scenes jostling by party heavyweights for the top post.

The infighting worsened following Zanu PF’s dismal performance in last year’s elections where it lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence to the Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe also lost the first round of the presidential elections to his then rival Morgan Tsvangirai, a setback that forced him into a coalition government.

The 85 year-old has said he would not step down until he is convinced that his departure will not lead to the collapse of Zanu PF. The issue of succession has been talked of in Zanu PF before without much progress being made on the ground.

A political commentator Arnold Murowanani said, "Zanu PF faces the real possibility of complete demise if it mishandles its succession issue (...) At the centre of this succession is the need for a credible and visionary leadership to rise within the party. A leadership that can lead with brains and vision and not violence and patronage as we have seen in the past."

"There is nothing wrong with Zanu PF advancing its nationalist ideology, as long as this is done persuasively and in the interest of the country”.

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