By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
21 February 2014
President Robert Mugabe has admonished factional leaders in ZANU PF, insinuating the rivalry between Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has divided the party.
Speaking to the ZBC on the eve of his 90th birthday on Thursday Mugabe, without mentioning names, castigated ‘selfish people’ who were only interested in the party leadership for personal interests.
‘This is … and that’s why some of us never campaigned for that leadership or for any position at all. We left it to the party to decide.
‘It’s terrible even to have your name mentioned as leader of a faction. It’s shameful. You must go beyond that and say you belong to the people as a whole,’ Mugabe said.
His comments have been seen as a direct attack on Mujuru and Mnangagwa, the two party stalwarts who have been involved in a bitter and divisive battle to succeed Mugabe when he steps down.
Other sections of the media believe that Mugabe’s remarks spell the end of Mujuru and Mnangagwa’s political ambitions of becoming leader of ZANU PF and eventually president of Zimbabwe.
But political analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga told SW Radio Africa’s that Mugabe’s comments on the succession battle do not in any way shut the door on the two leading contenders.
Mhlanga emphasized that the ageing president was simply dousing the firestorms triggered by the factional infighting.
‘Mugabe knows the debate has become highly emotional and charged up, so he was telling the groups to approach the leadership debate with tact and strategy and not engage in open warfare that leaves the party in tatters,’ Mhlanga said.
The political analyst said he doubts Mugabe has the capacity or the means to shut the door on both Mujuru and Mnangagwa, individuals who have invested heavily and each have a legion of strong supporters.
In the same interview Mugabe made it very clear how he feels about any discussion on succession while he is alive: “But why should it (succession) be discussed when it is not due? Is it due?” he queried. “The leadership still exists that runs the country. In other words, I am still there.”