The party’s Midlands Province Coordinating Committee made the resolution over the weekend, apparently ending the ZANU PF succession debate that observers have said threatened to divide the party.

In May the ZANU PF politburo set up a committee to look into the issue of choosing new leaders for the party, a move that was seen as a sign the party was finally looking for a Mugabe successor.

But Emmerson Mnangagwa, ZANU PF Secretary for Legal Affairs, who was also rumoured to be harboring his own presidential hopes, said this weekend the ZANU PF Midlands grouping had agreed they are satisfied and committed to Mugabe’s leadership of the party.

Political analyst Professor John Makumbe explained on Tuesday that the move is little more than an attempt by the provincial ZANU PF branch to impress Mugabe, saying Mnangagwa in particular has been vying for a top leadership seat for many years.

Professor Makumbe said the succession debate in ZANU PF will rage on, regardless of the title Mugabe has been given, arguing the title is ‘unconstitutional’.

“ZANU PF’s own constitution has no room for such things, and its quite simple: the succession debate will only be over when it is over,” Professor Makumbe said. “The fight will intensify and all these attempts to impress Mugabe are part of the fight.”

ZANU PF infighting has reportedly been growing steadily worse since the party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since independence, to the MDC last year.

Mugabe meanwhile has said he would not step down until he is convinced that his departure will not lead to the collapse of ZANU PF. But what does the declaration mean for Zimbabwe? Professor Makumbe argued that it means ‘nothing’, saying nothing at all is going to change the current situation.

“ZANU PF has not changed even if the party is in disarray,” the Professor explained.

The declaration of Mugabe as ‘Supreme leader’ puts him on a level with Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an ironic similarity that puts the two countries even closer on a par than they’ve been before. Iranians too have suffered enormous human rights violations under Khamenei’s ‘supreme’ leadership, including strict media restrictions. Mugabe meanwhile has in the past defended Iran, saying in 2006 that he and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were like-minded ‘revolutionaries’.

Professor Makumbe explained he is not surprised by ZANU PF’s willingness to place itself in line with a country like Iran, saying the party respects the regime type that is dictatorial and oppressive.

“They may as well put the party in line with the Taliban,” Professor Makumbe said. SW Radio Africa