By Tonderai Kwenda
President Robert Mugabe has all but secured his candidature as the Zanu PF candidate meaning it is all but confirmed that he is going to be the party’s life president.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa yesterday extinguished ambitious attempts by elements within the party’s factions to come together and turn their conference set for next week into an extra-ordinary congress to try and push out Mugabe.
Mugabe’s candidature has put paid to an interview Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa gave to Namibian newspapers about three months ago when he said Zanu PF has no credible candidate other than Mugabe.
The party’s officials, who by day bootlick Mugabe and were exposed by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks, as regime change merchants for working with foreigners to push out the 87-year-old president, are said to be still hopeful of a Mugabe ouster.
With indications that the earliest Zimbabwe can hold elections is 2013, it means that Zanu PF will present the frail Mugabe at 89 as its presidential candidate. Mutasa, told the Daily News there will not be any succession debates at the Bulawayo meeting ruling out any chance of surprises.
“Who is succeeding who, there is nothing like that,” said Mutasa responding to questions on whether the party will discuss any succession plans for Mugabe. We have said again and again but you journalists just won’t listen. New leaders are elected at congress and this is not a congress.”
Instead, Mutasa said the party will discuss indigenisation, agriculture, the society, schools and other issues. Asked if the WikiLeaks issue will be on the table Mutasa said, “We are not in a hurry about it.”
It was Mugabe himself who had announced that the conference might be turned into a congress but the party made a U-turn on realising that the Zanu PF factions were converging and plotting to oust the octogenarian leader.
But despite these telling signs of a tired body due to advanced age, six out of 10 provinces have so far lined up to endorse him as the former ruling party’s presidential candidate for any future election. Mugabe has been to the Far East on several occasions this year on suspected medical-related trips.
With elections likely to be delayed until 2013 considering the timetable of democratic reforms that have to be carried out before an election can be called, Mugabe could find the going tough.
Zimbabwean elections are usually characterised by punishing schedules and any delay in the polls will work against him. At 89 in 2013, Zanu PF will find him to be a hard sell as he will be pitted against youthful candidates in the form of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Simba Makoni, Arthur Mutambara, Welshman Ncube, Dumiso Dabengwa and Job Sikhala.
But party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has in the past said “wisdom comes with age,” when he dismissed talk of putting up the issue of the presidential candidate up for a vote at the Bulawayo conference.
So far the script of the previous years has largely been reproduced with Matabeleland South, Midlands, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Harare having already publicly backed Mugabe with an endorsement after their provincial conferences.
“We have one candidate only. That is the president,” said Andrew Langa, the Zanu PF Matabeleland South chairman.
Excitable Zanu PF chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo has also brought a new dimension to the whole debate telling party supporters that the congress will not do anything out of the extraordinary except to reaffirm the decisions of the party’s last congress which was held in Mutare.
“Provinces can only reaffirm the decision of the congress. Our party constitution provides that whoever is elected presidential candidate becomes the party’s presidential candidate for any election until our next congress,” said Moyo in an interview with the state-owned media recently.
The party’s provinces have been endorsing Mugabe in quick succession and at the current rate, they are all likely to do so before the start of the conference. Midlands province, the home province of Zanu PF legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa has also endorsed the dear leader.
The defence minister, who is believed to be leading one of the factions fighting to succeed Mugabe personally delivered the message endorsing Mugabe at a provincial meeting held in Gweru.
He said: “We, as the Midlands, endorse President Robert Gabriel Mugabe as the party’s candidate in the forthcoming election,” he said adding that he is a leader “with a clear vision. He knows all our concerns and has the solution to solve them.”
Zanu PF Harare province is the latest in what has become a predictable path every year endorsing Mugabe after a provincial meeting. The province’s chairmen Amos Midzi said Mugabe’s candidature is a foregone conclusion saying the ailing leader was “the best candidate” to represent Zanu PF. Daily News
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