3 September 2012

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Succession Causes Headaches

ZANU PF'S divisive succession puzzle continues to cause headaches in the faction-riddled party as its decision-making organ, politburo, was recently forced to reject a provision in the controversial Copac draft constitution on running mates fearing this would further destabilise the organisation ahead of its conference in December and elections next year.

President Robert Mugabe's leadership succession is one of the biggest political questions facing Zimbabwe, as it is intertwined with the fate of Zanu PF and the nation.

Politburo insiders told Zimbabwe Independent this week all senior party members who spoke at recent 50-hour politburo meetings strongly opposed the clause.

The provision, over which Zanu PF is unwilling to compromise, forces the party to deal with its complex succession issue as it corners Mugabe into anointing his successor, something which he has always refused to do.

Indications are that Zanu PF is looking at the post-Mugabe era, considering the way it has framed the issue of vice-presidents.

Its proposal says in the event that the president is incapacitated, resigns or dies, one of the two appointed vice-presidents from the party of the former president shall take over within 48 hours for the remainder of the running tenure.

The Copac draft proposes that an elected vice-president or the first running mate must come in. Critics described it as a "hierarchy of deaths" provision, showing it was also looking beyond Mugabe.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo this week said: "During the outreach programme the people said they wanted the president to be assisted by two vice-presidents whom he appoints; the issue of presidential running mates is alien to Zimbabwe and against the wishes of the people and should therefore not find its way into the new constitution."

If Zanu PF uses the party hierarchy Mugabe, already battling with issues of old age and ill-health, would run with Vice-Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo who is suffering from cancer, something which could cause problems.

Zanu PF has revised the Copac draft mainly to restore Mugabe's imperial executive powers trimmed in the document. The party says it wants a strong president with sweeping powers like in the current constitution apparently to win the next elections and manage succession.

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