5 September 2014

Zimbabwe: Succession Hurting Economy - Analysts

ZIMBABWE needs to urgently sort out President Robert Mugabe's succession problem as waves of attendant uncertainty and instability are exacerbating the country's political risk hindering foreign direct investment, Professor Stephen Chan of the School of African and Asian Studies at the University of London said last night.

Contributing to debate on succession at the Southern African Political Economic Series (Sapes), Chan -- who has written incise works on Zimbabwe -- said the uncertainty created by failure to have a clear succession plan was hampering investment in the same manner the indigenisation programme was.

Chan, who made it clear he had nothing against indigenisation other than the approach, said the country needed to have clear indigenisation laws, citing Nigeria as an example. He said Southern Arica Development Community (Sadc) and African Union (AU) leaders, by deciding to give him the Sadc chair after which he will also chair the AU, probably wanted "the old man goes out in glory".

Chan said Zimbabwe needs to follow the examples of influential countries such as Britain, the US and China, which have leaders who are between 40 and 60 who are in able to deal with modern and technical challenges facing their countries and the world.

"In China, it is not acceptable for a leader to go far beyond the sixties," he said.

China now has once-in-a-decade leadership change approach. The current leader, Xi Jinping, whom Mugabe (90) met last week in Beijing, came into office last year and is 61.

Chan said although he did not expect the succession issue to be resolved at Zanu PF's December congress, "some kind of process will now have to start."

MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the succession debate should become a national issue as it was invariably linked to the fate of the nation, while it was also a key issue during the constitution-making process.

She said although Mugabe would not relinquish power, he had most likely made a choice of whom he wanted to groom for the presidency, before revealing he would sometimes let Vice-President Joice Mujuru chair cabinet meetings during the inclusive government era, although he seems to have fallen out with her now over his wife Grace's political ambition.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said from her association with members of the Mnangagwa faction, there is a feeling Mugabe was likely to sabotage the Mujuru faction in the similar manner he did the Mnangagwa camp in the run-up to 2004 congress given his wife's involvement.

"The one thing that Mugabe is clear about is that he is loyal to a position. If he has taken a position he finds it difficult to move. The moment he has made up his mind he sticks to his position unless something drastic has happened, and I don't think that has happened," she said.

She said if Mugabe wanted to sink Mujuru he would have influenced nullification of Zanu PF's provincial elections and the Youth League conference.

Dr Ibbo Mandaza, who chaired the debate, said Mugabe simply wanted to die in office. "The Women's League nominated him the sole Zanu PF candidate in the 2018 presidential elections and he thanked them. It's clear he wants to die in office," said Mandaza.

Zanu PF, however, says the Women's League did not talk about 2018, but said he is the sole candidate to be re-elected as party leader in December, which all the same means he will be the candidate for 2018 unless that is changed through an extraordinary congress.

Research and Advocacy Unit senior researcher, Derek Matyszak, outlined the loopholes in the country's and Zanu PF's constitutions with regards to succession.

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